If you’re trying to get yourself on a healthy eating path, it’s easy to get confused by all the conflicting information that’s out there. There are so many different diet regimens all claiming to be the best way to eat to achieve and maintain a slim and healthy body. I personally feel most of these diets make things way too complicated for the average person to follow. Don’t eat before 11:00 am. Don’t eat after 8:00 pm. Eliminate carbohydrates. Load up on fats. Eat like a caveman… Most of the diets you’ll read about are full of rules and restrictions that definitely stack the odds against you when it comes to success.
Lately I’ve been hearing more about intuitive eating as an approach to eating and it makes a lot of sense to me. In fact, research has shown that intuitive eating is associated with lower body mass index (BMI), better psychological health and improved nutrition. The concept behind intuitive eating is simple. You eat when you’re hungry and you stop when you’re full. You don’t restrict any foods or categories of foods. You can eat any time of the day that you’re hungry.
Even though intuitive eating is so simple, it can be challenging for people who’ve lost touch with their body’s hunger and fullness cues. This can happen if you’ve been yo-yo dieting or fallen into a pattern of emotional eating to soothe feelings of sadness, boredom and anxiety.
The intuitive eating hunger scale is useful if you want to reconnect with your body’s hunger cues. The goal is to stay in the middle, or the green portion, of the scale—starting to eat at 3–4 and stopping at 5–6. The 1–2 region is where you’re more likely to overeat. And, frequently eating to the point of Thanksgiving stuffed will make it even harder for your body and your brain to make the hunger/fullness connection.
Here are some tips if you want to try intuitive eating for yourself:
- Before eating, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” Pause to think whether you are eating for hunger or for another reason, like sadness or stress. If your answer is yes, choose a matching number on the scale.
- Eat at a table, with family or friends whenever possible. Eliminate distractions like TVs or devices. This will help support more mindful eating.
- Slow down. It can take 20 minutes to feel full after eating. Start with small portions, eat slowly and pause before getting seconds.
- Keeping healthy snacks on hand to keep yourself from getting into the ravenous danger zone.
Intuitive Eating Scale provided by IDEAFit.