In recent years, “being skinny” has become synonymous with “the perfect body type”. or women especially, having a small waist, thigh gap, and thin arms have become focal points, and to maintain these “idealistic” body images, many different weight-loss diets have become popularized such as: the 90-day diet, low carb diet, Atkins, paleo, vegan, the Zone diet…and the list goes on.
Because society started placing so much importance on body image, “dieting” became an inevitable part of our culture. This meant restricting certain foods, skipping meals, forgoing diverse eating, and neglecting the natural eating habits and needs of our body.
- What is intuitive eating?
- Intuitive eating and mental health
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating (IE) is a specific approach to eating that helps individuals recover from their negative dieting experiences. It facilitates “listening to our body’s messages,” so that we can make more conscious choices about what and when to eat and remove ourselves from self-judgment. 
Intuitive eating and mental health
Living in a culture that is so fast-paced and always on the go, we are trained to ignore signals from our body. However, listening to the cues the body gives you such as feeling hungry, full, or craving certain foods is really important, especially when trying to find the underlying causes of illness or disease.
There are 10 principles of intuitive eating. Each of these has a strong impact on our mental wellbeing and our relationship with food. 
Reject the diet mentality
Letting go of the belief that every diet is good as long as it makes you lose weight can reduce frustration of failed dieting, the yo-yo effect, and harsh expectations from yourself. As a result, intuitive eaters are associated with a lower risk of developing eating disorders compared to those who diet. 
Honor your hunger
Hunger is a signal to the body that it needs food.
Several studies have looked into the effect of hunger on mental health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, hunger can be a leading factor responsible for increased risk of depression, anxiety, and PTSD in later stages of the child’s life. 
Make peace with food
Letting go of the idea to avoid “forbidden foods” may help individuals to prevent cravings, binge eating, and accidental overeating. This helps to further reduce stress and anxiety around eating when intuitively eating. 
Challenge the food police
Social media targets us with endless dietary advice about ditching high-calorie foods, negatively influencing our body image and relationship with food. 
Intuitive eating approaches support individuals to restore a positive relationship with food and let go of the guilt that surrounds them when consuming their favorite foods.
Discover the satisfaction factor
Eating stimulates the release of endorphins (pleasure hormones) in the brain, particularly  when we eat our favorite foods! For that reason, intuitive eaters are rate higher in happiness and satisfaction, compared to people who are on a specific diet.
Feel your fullness
Just like hunger, fullness is a body signal. Not feeling obliged to finish your meal if you are not hungry can help you stop overeating and reduce the anxiety and guilt related to this state.
Cope with your emotions with kindness
Many people try to become more resilient to negative emotions with the “help” of food. Nonetheless, such “emotional hunger” is often related to eating disorders, short-term satisfaction, and long-term guilt. 
Respect your body
Every person is unique and has a different body type. Therefore we all have different bodies. Considering this, body shaming has a significant impact on one’s confidence and anxiety and can be the root cause for is also related to different mental social anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders. 
Learning how to respect our bodies promotes self-love, appreciation, and meaning in life.
Movement: feel the difference
Focusing on exercises that you actually like can support you to build a sustainable habit for working out. It doesn’t even need to be high intensity!
Physical health could significantly impact our mental wellbeing. Studies show that regular exercise can increase our satisfaction and confidence, and decrease stress and anxiety levels. 
Honor your health: gentle nutrition
Eating foods that makes us feel good from the inside and out is extremely important. Therefore, combining delicious and nutritious meals with foods that really “feed” our soul can support us in achieving a balanced and healthy long-term lifestyle.
Intuitive eating is literally “a diet from the diet culture:” restricting the factors that compromise our mental wellbeing while promoting self-love and support to develop resiliency and stronger intuition around the food choices we make.