A series of studies have attempted to determine how dieters and non-dieters differ when presented with food. In one experiment, both groups were asked to rate different foods. They told them they could try pastries, cookies and dried fruit; in the middle of the test, they were given a chocolate pudding.
At the start of the test, people who were on a diet ate less initially, but after taking a shake; the results were reversed. The subjects decided their diets were already ruined and ate more than the control group.
Although dieters are expected to behave in a certain way, their actions were counterintuitive. The desire to overeat was exacerbated by the perception that they had already broken the diet. Researchers refer to this process of breaking the diet, overeating and then resuming the diet as the “diablo effect.”
Studies of the “al diablo” effect inspired Evelyn Tribole, a Californian dietician, to propose intuitive eating as a healthy way to eat. This dietary approach, which establishes that the best thing is not to go on a diet, he has developed and disseminated through the book Intuitive Food: The Return to Natural Food Habits, which is now in its fourth edition.
What is Intuitive Eating?
According to some health professionals, dieting is bad advice; instead, people are better off learning to eat intuitively. Intuitive eating teaches people to eat what their body asks for. Unlike other diets, one of its fundamental principles is that you can eat anything without gaining weight.
The intuitive diet has no restrictions, but that doesn’t mean we can eat without any kind of awareness. In fact, it’s about reconnecting with our body to understand its true needs.
The eating habits of most of us are not based on our dietary needs, but are heavily influenced by customs, environment, advertising and increasingly by social media. Thus, the intuitive diet is a challenge because it involves unlearning and stopping listening to outside influences to figure out for ourselves what to eat. Added to this are other difficulties in eating intuitively, such as daily obligations, which leave us little time to listen to ourselves and our bodies.
Although it may seem like an unattainable challenge, if we look at babies and young children, they eat intuitively, that is, when they are hungry and stop when they are full. They also don’t eat what they don’t like, although this should be nuanced, since they themselves are not able to feed themselves, so if it is necessary to learn when we are small and to offer different foods, these are the most natural foods possible.
Typical phrases such as “if you eat everything, you’ll be fatter”, “don’t leave anything on the plate” or others that force us to eat certain types of food considered healthier, for example: “the banana is good because it has a lot of potassium, they have a lot of influence on our perception of food.
Although released with good intentions, these tips they make us pay more attention to what we are told from the outside while eating, than to what our body transmits to us. In the long run, this leads us to believe that certain unhealthy foods are good for us, even though our bodies are telling us otherwise.
It is increasingly common to go to different professionals to improve our diet or to do so through books or social networks. Unfortunately, many of these good intentions result in unnecessary diets based on certain dietary restrictions, fasting periods, and macro and calorie calculations.
This type of diet takes us even further away from the bodily signals that our body sends us. This is one of the main reasons why most of these diets have high rates of failure and relapse, as well as long-term weight gain. Likewise, it is important to note that any diet that imposes some type of restriction is likely to act as a trigger for an eating disorder.
The intuitive diet it assumes that the body naturally knows what it needs in terms of food and nutrition. By listening to hunger cues and interpreting them correctly, a person can automatically eat healthier, without thinking too much about it and feeling like they are on a diet.
How to apply intuitive eating to your lifestyle?
As we have seen, intuitive eating forces us to detach from a series of preconceived ideas about food and diets. Its main purpose is to teach us to pay more attention to our body’s responses to different foods, instead of applying a restrictive diet, counting calories or following trends.
There are a series of principles that serve as the pillars of intuitive eating. Concretely, ten, although its main promoter Evelyn Tribole clarifies that it is better not to apply them all at the same time and to go little by little on the way to learning to eat in an intuitive and healthy way.
1. Reject diets
While there are many different diets that are touted as healthy – when it comes to weight loss – it’s best to avoid any type of diet altogether. Plus, anyone who’s tried a fad diet will know why it’s not a viable long-term option. Ignoring our body’s needs in a strict and systematic way does not mean any benefit, in fact, the opposite usually happens: we end up giving up on the diet and more frustrated than when we started it. We must listen carefully to our body and understand the foods we ask for and the nutrients they provide.
2. Respect hunger cues
It is perfectly natural to be hungry. Hunger is the body’s way of telling us that we need energy. It is also important for our mental and physical health to have access to quality food at all times. If we allow ourselves to eat only a salad or fruit throughout the day – when we crave other foods – this can lead to unhealthy habits, such as excessive consumption of high-calorie foods. when we get home.
From this point of view, it is better eat when hungry and learn to stop when you feel full. Alternatively, we can use our common sense to determine when we have eaten enough.
3. There are no forbidden foods
Avoiding certain types of food can lead to a significant drop in happiness. Accept this fact and make peace with pizza, chocolate and soft drinks and incorporating these foods into our diet from time to time is the solution to stop obsessing over them. When someone tells you you don’t want something, it’s only natural that you want it more, even if it’s not what’s best for you.
By forbidding ourselves to eat certain foods, we increase our need for them, even though we did not want them before. Once you apply this principle, you will realize that you do not want to eat chocolate in the morning, at noon and in the evening, but only once in a while.
4. Challenge your food critic
Diets can teach us to judge certain foods as good or bad. When you make a list of all the ideas we have around food, we can discover the binding rules that we have imposed on ourselves over the years and that we have internalized. For example, some people avoid carbs at night, while others never eat dessert. Others focus on counting calories throughout the day.
Paying attention to these rules can make it harder to consciously focus on what we eat. The purpose of this exercise is to raise awareness of how rules and food control can interfere with intuitive eating.
5. Feeling full
By paying attention to the feeling of hunger, you can avoid eating too much or very little. There is a balance point between the feeling of hunger and satiety. When eating, it’s best to stop when you feel pleasantly full, but not full. The objective is to find an intermediate point. This always means maintaining an appetite that is not urgent, but also not achieving Feeling full
6. Enjoy food
Enjoying experiences is another way the body releases endorphins, including food. It’s more satisfying to eat a meal that we really want to eat and are going to enjoy rather than one that we reluctantly eat because we think it’s healthy.
Taking the time to eat is important fully appreciate the food and flavors. Distractions should not interfere with mealtime and we should concentrate on each bite.
7. Separate emotions from food
Eating intuitively requires understanding the difference between emotional hunger and true physical hunger. Eating out of sadness, loneliness, frustration, boredom or also as a reward is something common. This phenomenon is known as emotional hunger: food can produce feelings similar to affection. For example, eating sugar can make us happy in the short term because it releases dopamine. Sweets are often used as a quick fix for temporary anxiety. However, this way of dealing with emotions leads to long-term unmet needs, and after a while we feel worse than before we ate.
8. Respect our bodies
It’s important when it comes to food to appreciate the body we have, to recognize all of its abilities and strengths, and to assume that beauty standards are impossible to achieve. These are established by comparing someone’s appearance with something they cannot have. It is absurd to make judgments based on outward appearances; Likewise, no one should tell someone to wear a size that doesn’t fit their body. To connect with our intuition, first we must recognize and embrace our reality.
9. Move consciously
We often hear that sport and physical exercise are fundamental elements of healthy eating and living. However, just like forcing yourself to eat certain types of foods that aren’t right for you, exercising without pleasure won’t lead to lasting results.
It is important that the exercise we decide to do is fun and motivating. You shouldn’t start with high-intensity training or endless gym sessions. Instead, it’s better to try something that you like and can do regularly, like a bike ride or a long walk, it can also be the gym but gradually. Then, you can gradually increase the pace as you get used to it and find pleasure in it.
Other options that improve body awareness include yoga and tai chi. These psychophysical approaches involve movement, posture, breathing, calm and a positive attitude. And they encourage open communication between mind and body.
10. Health first
Practice intuitive eating this does not mean forgetting the basic principles of nutrition. Having a solid understanding of food and what it gives us will give us a significant advantage when it comes to trusting intuition. Some foods contain the nutrients our body needs, while others simply have a high palatability. With this knowledge, we can make informed decisions with a lot of leeway when we eat.