Eating intuitively is based on the principles that we have hunger signals and food preferences and the best way to go about is to become aware of them.
The pioneers of the intuitive eating are Gwen Shamblin, author of The Weight Down Diet, and Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, authors of the book, Intuitive Eating. Although this approach has been used mainly for weight loss, it’s also a general philosophy for eating.
One of the primary reasons people have lost touch with what our bodies really need is because the standard American diet (trend –setters for rest of the World) is full of chemicals, processed foods, sugar and damaged fats. Proponents believe the following factors contribute:
1) Being caught up with diet fads.
The value of intuition in eating is lost in our knowledge and science-driven world. Animals instinctively know everything they need to live and they do it. We have the same instincts, but it gets lost in what we are told we should eat by friends, researchers, celebrities, magazines, talk show hosts and diet gurus.
2) Making weight loss your sole focus.
The weight loss industry in the United States is a billion dollar industry. It can harm your confidence, your wallet and importantly your metabolism. Many dieters develop ailments from being on the wrong diet, such as poor concentration, joint pain, headaches, dark circles under the eyes, depression, anxiety, weakness and fatigue. They can deprive your body of essential nutrients.
3) Chronic stress or illness.
Many people under chronic stress lose their taste for food. They view food as fuel or they lose sensitivity to hunger signals. In addition, prolonged stress can destabilize blood sugar levels causing mindless cravings and a constant urge to eat more. Plus, chronic stress maybe involved in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or cause bloating gas, and pain regardless of what you eat.
How to improve your intuitive ability
1) Begin by paying attention to how different foods make you feel.
• What foods make you bloated, uncomfortable, or cause pain?
• What foods make you edgy or anxious vs. content and calm?
• What foods make you tired or unable to concentrate?
• What foods give you energy?
• What foods leave you satisfied?
2) Reduce the amount of sugar and junk foods in your diet.
a. Use a herbal sweetener. The herbal sweetener Stevia can be used to add sweetness to any dish. Certain brands are better than others—if you try a brand that taste quite bitter, keep looking.
b. Healthier sweeteners. If you use sugar, try mixing unrefined blackstrap molasses with just enough honey to make the molasses taste less bitter. These natural sweeteners like honey and molasses are still forms of sugar, so don’t go overboard on these thinking they are okay.
c. Try spice with a sweet flavor. The spices cloves and cinnamon have a sweet taste, even though they don’t contain any sugar. Try making Chai, or adding cinnamon to desserts, sauces and drinks for a sweet flavor.
d. Substitute fruit and then gradually decrease. If you have a sweet tooth, try to slowly substitute the sugar in your diet with fruit. Fruit contains sugar but also has antioxidants, phyto-chemicals and fiber. Gradually taper the fruit until you are at a level that feels right to you.