What is intuitive eating?
Can you successfully lose weight while 'intuitively eating'?
Based off this definition, we can agree that intuitive eating relies heavily on gut feeling. It most likely relies more on intuition than it does science or evidence-based choices as well. This all depends on the individual however, and how much they will take external information into account.
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating further supports this. Many of its messages advocate a holistic and mindful approach to the way you eat:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honour Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Respect Your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Honour Your Health
By following these guidelines, is it possible to still experience weight loss or fat loss? While not impossible, our coaches believe that an open-ended approach such as intuitive eating may leave many things up for interpretation.
How can you accurately measure progress if you do not measure the food you consume. There is no implementation of markers for measurement such as a caloric target or macronutrient targets. Are we measuring other factors such as sleep, mood and stress levels? What can we pinpoint our weight loss, or stalled weight loss to?
This is why we would advocate intuitive eating for those who are looking to maintain their weight, rather than lose weight. Weight maintenance over weight loss makes much more sense in line with the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating guidelines such as respecting your fullness - and gauging satiety.
As a recommendation, we also believe that the approach should take on a mindful approach, over an intuitive approach. Intuition relies heavily on emotional choice making. However mindfulness infers that other factors are taken into consideration before a decision is made. So while your intuition may tell you you're feeling hungry or deprived, you will mindfully make the decision to avoid bingeing or snacking. This is because you are aware that you have had less than average sleeps for a few consecutive days. You are also aware that sleep deprivation will affect the hormone that regulates your appetite and contributes to satiety. This is leptin, which is used to suppress appetite, and therefore is directly linked to weight loss. Loss of sleep will also increases the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for hunger and playing a role in meal initiation.¹
To mindfully eat, is to follow one's intuition while considering other factors that may directly impact your choice. This could mean mindfully eating a lighter breakfast or lunch, knowing that you have a large social dinner to come. This could also mean you are aware of the effects food has on your mood and energy, and can distinguish between real hunger or hunger cues such as cravings or boredom. Mindful eating is not a tool to lose weight. You do not necessarily require experience in tracking your macronutrients or flexible dieting to practise mindful eating, however, we believe a strong background in nutrition will help assist you further in making educated choices.
What is your experience with mindful eating? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.