The no-diet way of eating that can actually help weight loss

Turns out that trusting your gut can go a long way towards building healthy eating habits.

Instead of lurching from one fad diet to another, is it time to go back to basics and listen to what our bodies are telling us instead?

Intuitive eating is an anti-diet that’s rooted in the philosophy of becoming attuned to what your body needs and following your natural hunger cues.

It also doesn’t require having to follow a strict set of eating guidelines. Here’s all you need to know.

What is intuitive eating?

The term intuitive eating was coined by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, who formulated an eating framework guided by 10 principles. The intuitive way of eating essentially turns its back on dieting and its often overly strict approach.

“(Intuitive eating) is about breaking free from the dieting cycle, learning to eat with awareness and connection to our body’s hormonal cues of hunger and fullness, eating in a satisfying way, embracing all foods, and most importantly, eating without guilt,” says dietitian Monique Jephcote.

How does intuitive eating work?

Instead of the categorising food into “good” or “bad”, which is common with diet culture, intuitive eating gives you unconditional permission to eat what you like, and trust that your body will tell you what it needs.

It also recognises that everybody is different and as such, each person should eat to suit their own needs rather than adopt a one-size-fits-all dieting approach.

“Intuitive eating has more longevity than following a diet because it’s complete reconnection back to yourself. You’re no longer living with distrust and disconnect, which is what dieting guarantees,” says Monique, founder of The Intuitive Dietitian Clinic.

What are the benefits of intuitive eating?

More than 100 studies on intuitive eating have uncovered a range of benefits, including lower odds of extreme or unhealthy weight control behaviours, binge eating and body dissatisfaction.

Another review of studies into intuitive eating has also found a substantial connection between intuitive eating and lower BMI and better psychological health.

How to reject ‘diet culture’ and tune into intuitive eating

Dietitian and intuitive eating counsellor Nina Mills says while intuitive eating sounds simple it does require work, as it involves rejecting the diet mentality that has become ingrained in how we approach eating.

Nina, of Feel Good Eating, says turning your back on diet culture might involve:

  • Getting rid of your scales.
  • Deleting calorie counting apps off your phone.
  • Noticing when you are having diet-y thoughts.
  • Reminding yourself that “your body and food were never, ever the problem”.

One of the other key aspects of intuitive eating is being able to listen to what your body is telling you when it comes to what and how much you eat.

Nina says this ability can become eroded from a young age, for example if children are told they can’t leave the table until they finish their vegetables or are denied seconds because “you’ve had enough to eat”.

To become more attuned to your body, Nina says it is important to ensure you’re eating regularly and getting enough to eat, which typically looks like eating three meals and 2-3 snacks a day.

“This demonstrates to your body that it is safe, and that building the hormones and turning on the physical sensations that are involved in hunger and fullness is a worthwhile investment of its energy,” she says.

Written by Tania Gomez.