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Thursday, 25 February 2021

What on earth is “intuitive eating?”

The no-diet diet: That’s one way to describe a food regimen that has been known for over two decades as “intuitive eating.” It’s when you basically forget about calorie counting, have no qualms about foods generally considered to be on the lower end of the healthy spectrum — and just eat without second thought.

PSA- Before we proceed any further, let’s just reiterate that we’re strictly not dieticians and that we are neither encouraging nor discouraging this food for thought (pun kind of intended).

Intuitive eating is essentially a diet where “good” and “bad” foods don’t exist. Or at least, their value is based on a broader range of factors, Amanda Mull says in this 2019 article for the Atlantic. As a concept, intuitive eating isn't that new. The first book on the topic was published in 1995 by dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. The Southern California-based clinicians were looking for a new approach other than the drawn-out way of looking at body weight as the first indicator of overall health. Since then, intuitive eating has grown in popularity.

Wait, isn’t eating what we want exactly why we get fat in the first place? According to its proponents, intuitive eating isn’t about glorifying pizza-binging couch potatoes, and is rather a doctrine to help people disconnect from the stress and guilt they might attach to not eating right all the time, say Tribole and therapist Molly Bahr.

You might overeat some of the “bad stuff,” but once you’ve had your fill of burgers and donuts, your body will really appreciate some broccoli. Or at least that’s what advocates of this lifestyle suggest: When you’ve overdone it in one direction, your body will intuitively (hey, there’s that word again) send signals for what it needs.

Much of the lifestyle is about mind over matter: Restriction creates a mental pathway that attaches food we enjoy with negative feelings like guilt, and can reinforce a “forbidden fruit tastes sweetest” mentality that pushes us further into the embrace of a vat of ice cream. So since you want what you can’t have, why create these “can’t-haves in the first place? And while we’re at it, ditch the scale and stop obsessing over the numbers. Instead, prioritize how your body and psyche feel, and work on developing a healthy attitude toward food without worrying too much about weight and set aside cultural biases toward certain foods and lifestyles, Mull explains.

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