Ditch the Diet Culture for Intuitive Eating

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Primary Blog/Ditch the Diet Culture for Intuitive Eating

Most of us have gone on a "diet" at some point. You can't scroll social media or stand in the checkout line without having the newest diet trend staring you in the face. We live in a society that either praises or criticizes people based on their size. No wonder we have become obsessed with diets and the next best thing that promises you to fit into your skinny jeans.

I'm not saying that being fit, healthy, and perhaps working towards a specific size are bad things. Nor is it wrong to be mindful and selective about what you eat. On the contrary, those are essential aspects of living your healthiest life.

Traditional dieting focuses on calorie reduction, often the elimination of an essential nutrient (i.e., low-carb or keto). This form of dieting may seem to work at first, but most of the weight you lose is from water or running your body in a severe caloric deficit. This type of diet is not only miserable for you and everyone around you, but it can cause havoc to your health in the long run. Not to mention that when you fail to fuel yourself properly, the first thing to go after water weight is muscle. You lose muscle mass, which results in lower body weight, but a higher body fat percentage slows your metabolism down, making it harder to achieve your desired body composition. This cycle is what causes the yo-yo effect of dieting.

It's time to ditch the diet mentality and embrace intuitive eating. For some, this may sound scary, like you'll suddenly eat the whole carton of ice cream or the entire bag of chips if you're not on a strict diet. Hear me out; ditching the diet mentality is not permitting yourself to eat whatever you want whenever you want to. Intuitive eating is about slowing down before, during, and after you eat, noting how hungry you are, and listening to your body and its response to the food.

By slowing down before you eat, you will notice the emotions that cause you to think of food. Are you sad or stressed? Or perhaps you're happy or relieved! Or maybe you're just plain hungry because you forgot to eat. Learning to listen to your body, the emotions you feel when you want to eat, and your hunger quotient* before taking that first bite will help you become more aware of your eating habits. This practice will allow you to choose healthier food rather than mindless eating.

The same goes for tuning into your body after you have eaten. How do you feel? Do you feel energized and focused or bloated and sluggish? Your body will give you all the signs you need to know what food fuels you and drains you; when you start noticing how different foods make you feel, you'll be more likely to grab a piece of fruit than a cookie for your afternoon snack.

Intuitive eating can be freedom from the diet culture when done mindfully. It's simply paying attention to your body's intuition. Your body will reward you for slowing down and listening to it, nourishing it properly, and moving it frequently. Everyone's body has a happy place where homeostasis comes to rest, and you feel the healthiest and most vibrant.

Here are a few tips on getting started.

Start a food journal. Nothing complicated, only noting your hunger quotient, the mood before eating, and what you ate.

Load up on fresh fruit and veggies. Some pack more of a nutrient punch than others. I.e., berries, dark leafy greens, and vibrantly colored veggies, to name a few. You will never become unhealthy from eating too many fruits or veggies. But stay mindful of the starches such as potatoes. Try swapping out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.

For protein, choose clean and lean. Choosing lean proteins will help you fuel properly without adding unnecessary fat to your diet. You want your protein to be as free of additives and hormones as possible. Always select organic, grass-fed, whenever possible.

Keep your fats healthy! Avocados, nuts, omega 3s from fish, chia and hemp seeds, and olive oil are excellent sources of healthy fats. Steer clear of trans fats and hydrogenated oils. These are the "bad fats" that will clog up your arteries.

Limit processed foods as much as possible. Processed foods often have hidden ingredients you should avoid, and they are also higher in calories and lower in nutrients. Choosing whole foods whenever possible will help you stay on track.

Treats are ok when you choose them consciously. Conscious indulgences allow you to enjoy the things you love without feeling guilty. Remember, the whole point of intuitive eating is about being mindful of what you eat, not eating out of habit, restriction, or emotions. Allowing yourself the occasional treat will help you stay on track in the long run.

Last but not least, hydrate! Water, water, water. Many times, we will mistake hunger for thirst. Aim to drink a minimum of 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water daily. If water doesn't interest you, try carbonated water or infuse it with fruit such as berries, lemon, limes, or cucumber. Stay away from soda and other sugary drinks. Those will only give you a sugar high and then crash.

*Hunger quotient.
Your hunger quotient is on a scale from 1-10. One is you have never been more hungry and could eat the entire contents of the fridge, and ten is you are so full you never want to eat again. The goal is to stay somewhere in between. Start eating around a four and stop eating around a 6. In other words, when you feel slightly hungry, it's time to eat; when you feel somewhat satisfied, be done. Using your hunger quotient regularly will help you make smarter, healthier food choices and avoid overeating.

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Hi, I Am Jaime Duggan

CEO Of Empowered Health

Your dedicated healthy lifestyle coach and certified personal trainer. I'm here to guide you through a transformative journey of wellness, offering personalized strategies for proper nourishment, effective exercise, and quality rest. Beyond the scale, we'll focus on holistic well-being, emphasizing sustainable, empowering habits for a happier life. I cherish family time, wholesome cooking, joyful physical activities, and reading, which fuel my own health journey. Ready to become your best self? Let's embrace this wellness journey together!

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