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Diet Culture & What is Intuitive Eating?

Updated: May 2

Pictured below brunch at 620 Jones in San Francisco!

What is diet culture? What is Intuitive Eating? Why does it matter?

At this point in the year, it seems that headlining every other lifestyle magazine is the "Summer Beach Body Cleanse" or "Drop 5 pounds in 5 Days". As we prepare for warmer weather and fewer clothes we also tend to prepare our bodies. While I do love setting goals around health and well-being, in our society, sadly, much of the time, "getting healthy" is confused with dieting, restricting, and overexercising. No one size fits health for all. The "shoulds" we think we need to do because we live in a society that tells us a specific thin body type is healthy is not what we should be doing. Instead, my definition of health is doing what's best for you and listening to your body. Remember that only YOU know what that is based on your life and current circumstances.

Ah, diet culture, our best dream and simultaneous nightmare. No matter how hard we try to avoid it, it seems as if every news outlet is writing about the latest fad, juice cleanse, or gluten, sugar, dairy-free diet. With weight loss, diet, and health trends so prevalent in today's world, it can be confusing and hard to determine what is right and wrong? 3 meals a day or 8 meals? Breakfast or intermittent fasting? Forcing yourself to follow a diet or method, restricting, and avoiding your body's natural hunger and fullness signals will only leave you to overeat, binge, or develop an unhealthy relationship with food in the end. One of the newer, most popular "trends", which we have been born practising, is the Intuitive Eating method. Eat when you're hungry and stop when you are full. Simple right?

While this may sound like a piece of cake, it is much harder than it appears. Intuitive eating can be defined as an eating style that promotes a healthy attitude towards food and body image. It responds to our body's wants, cravings, needs without judgment and the pressures or brainwashed food myths plaguing our mind. Though this should be an easy, intuitive process, for many people, it's not. Many factors are considered when it comes to intuitive eating, such as emotional hunger versus physical hunger. Another factor involved in intuitive eating is the satisfaction factor. It is essentially asking yourself, "how does it taste after the first bite?". Recognizing this factor can help your body determine the appropriate amounts and what you should be consuming. Realize what truly makes you feel good inside and out while satisfying your needs. Intuitive eating is something I am still working on and requires time, patience, and energy.

The 10 fundamental principles of Intuitive Eating:

1. Reject the diet mentality

2. Honor your hunger

3. Make peace with food

4. Respect your fullness

5. Challenge the food police

6. Discover the satisfaction factor

7. Honor your feelings without using food

8. Respect your body

9. Exercise — feel the difference

10. Honor your health — adequate and gentle nutrition

Experience Genuine Self-love and Authentic Beauty

Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!) offers hope and a gentle path to self-love. The book's message is rooted in the belief that people inherently possess the wisdom necessary to make healthy choices and live in balance. It emphasizes that self-love, acceptance of genetic diversity in body size, a celebration of the unique beauty of every individual, and intuitive self-care are fundamental to achieving good physical and emotional health. It emphasizes that self-love, acceptance of genetic diversity in body size, a celebration of the unique beauty of every individual, and intuitive self-care are fundamental to achieving good physical and emotional health.

(Learning To Love Your Unique Body (And Quiet That Critical Voice!) Paperback – June 1, 2014)

Quick Guide:

Allow all foods that you like – Give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy all foods that you want.

Cultivate joy – find what lights you up and DO THAT!

Remember that your body is an instrument that houses your soul and is the vehicle that allows you to move through the world.

Work towards variety – Try to keep a balanced plate of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre for the 3 main meals each day that are usually recommended for most people. This will help you feel your best and provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive.

Recognize and honour your hunger – Giving yourself adequate nutrition at regular intervals allows your body's metabolism to work the way it should! Restriction of food during the day has been shown to decrease metabolic rate.

Feel your fullness – This can be challenging! You may not recognize the need to stop eating until you are overly stuffed (this is very common). Begin with being present and try to feel how it feels to be "full" and not highly crowded.

Cope with emotions – Recognize when hunger is not biologically driven.

Encourage satisfaction – When you allow yourself to eat what you truly crave, you feel so much more content. Engage all of your senses and practice mindfulness and body awareness.

Move and connect with your body in a joyful, purposeful way – Practice yoga, do a self care task such as a bath or massage or take a walk!

Stay hydrated – When we are working to discern our hunger and fullness cues, we want to maintain appropriate hydration to clarify what our bodies are asking for.

What are the benefits of intuitive eating?

Not only is intuitive eating something we are born with, but there are also numerous science-backed benefits of intuitive eating, including higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels, lower triglyceride levels, lower body mass index, lower rates of disordered eating, and improved self-esteem. Most importantly, intuitive eaters spend less time consumed and worrying about food and eating, and they have a lot more mental space and energy for other things.

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Follow my journey on Instagram:): @begorgeousandglobal & @kennedywenz

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