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It’s easy to experience negative emotions after eating food labeled as “fattening” or “bad,” but those feelings can also weaken our body image. To help make peace with food, try adopting the intuitive eating approach. Intuitive eating strives to create a healthy relationship between your food, mind and body.

Registered Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch published their book, Intuitive Eating in 2003 to promote healthy relationships with food in a restrictive “diet mentality” world. Since their book was published, the 10 principles of intuitive eating have been used worldwide by health programs and individuals who struggle with food issues and disordered eating. Using intuitive eating principles, you can teach yourself to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings.

Intuitive Eating Principles

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Get rid of diet books and articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. These just create roadblocks to developing your sense of intuitive eating.
  2. Honor Your Hunger. Keep your body biologically fed with healthy foods to avoid triggering a primal drive to overeat when excessive hunger hits.
  3. Make Peace with Food. Give yourself permission to eat. Identifying some foods as “off-limits can lead to feelings of deprivation, uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing.
  4. Challenge the Food Police. Just say no to thoughts that you’re “good” for eating under 1000 calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. Don’t allow diet claims and unreasonable rules from the dieting world create a sense of guilt or hopelessness.
  5. Respect Your Fullness. Learn to listen for body cues that you’re longer hungry. Stop periodically during meals to appreciate your food and assess your current level of fullness.
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. The pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience can be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied. By doing so, you’ll find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough.”
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues (such as anxiety, loneliness, boredom, or anger). Participate in an alternate activity: writing in a journal, calling a friend or going for a walk.
  8. Respect Your Body. Accept your genetics; it’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
  9. Exercise – Feel the Difference. Enjoy activity, focusing on how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. (Get fit in the comfort of your home with these 5 pieces of equipment to start your home gym.)
  10. Honor Your Health. Make food choices that taste good and respect your health. Keep in mind that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet, but do emphasize those foods that make you feel good: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.

Take the first step and reject diet mentality and embrace body positivity with intuitive eating.

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