In the non-diet world, there are several books that are the books to read. One of the most popular being Intuitive Eating [affiliate link] by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. These two dietitians developed their philosophy with 10 principles to help us find food freedom. The principles are as follows:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Feel your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Cope with Emotions without Using Food
- Respect your Body
- Exercise — Feel the Difference
- Honor your Health
I’m not going to dive into every principle today, but definitely expect to hear more about these principles in future posts. Today, we are tackling #10, honor your health also known as gentle nutrition.
I don’t know about you, but I would say almost nothing in today’s society surrounding our rigid food rules, militant exercise routines, and shaming certain foods comes off as gentle. I wish.
“Eating healthfully should feed good, both physically and psychologically, ultimately resulting in a satisfying experience. But we’ve lost sight of that feeling, due to the food and fat phobia that’s sweeping the country.” — Intuitive Eating
There’s a stereotype among dietitians. Many of us have perfectionist tendencies and often fit into the Type A category. There’s pros and cons to this personality, but one thing my education taught me is that there is no need to force that perfectionism on our eating habits.
A perfect diet does not equal perfect health.
Can our eating habits help prevent some conditions? Sure. But there are numerous factors that we cannot control — think genetics, age, gender, race, etc. We don’t develop nutrient deficiencies in a day.
Will having white bread instead of whole grain make me gain weight? No.
Will mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls give me diabetes? Absolutely not.
Will choosing this burger over the salad today give me a heart attack? Nope.
Gentle nutrition means you are making food choices that honor your health needs AND tastebuds. Are you guys tired of hearing about “moderation?” I kind of am too, but I’ll be real with you — it’s totally still applicable.
Note: If you have been instructed by a healthcare provider to follow certain nutritional guidelines for a specific medical condition, gentle nutrition does not mean ignoring that. Discuss this further with your own provider.
We make “healthy” eating way more complicated than it needs to be. With intuitive eating, this is no such thing as “falling off the bandwagon” because everything is on limits.
One day you may have pancakes with syrup for breakfast and the next you have a homemade veggie omelet. Awesome. You chose what sounded satisfying to you in those moments. Give yourself grace and permission to eat what you know both tastes good and makes you feel good.
What about quantity?
That’s where other intuitive eating principles come into play. Honor your hunger & fullness. Our body is amazing because it lets us know when we need fuel, and you don’t even need a phone app! 😉 We can discuss these principles in future posts as well!
Note: If you are a chronic dieter or have struggled disordered eating it’s possible that you may not feel your hunger cues as loudly. The good news is that they do return over time. If this is you — I strongly encourage you to reach out to a non-diet registered dietitian to work on healing that relationship with food.
Gentle nutrition considerations may include:
- Incorporate variety
- Eat enough fruits & veggies
- Drink enough fluid — mostly water
- Sugary beverages or those with calories are not off-limits because nothing is off limits — we are focusing on balance.
- Eat a variety of proteins
- Including fish, meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, & non-animal sources such as beans and legumes
- Include all food groups — including fat
- Fat keeps us satiated and makes foods satisfying
- Higher quality fat options include vegetable oils, olive oil, fatty fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds
- Consider whole grains
- Higher fiber content will help keep us fuller longer
But wait. I thought intuitive eating is about food freedom and having no rules?!
Absolutely. The above are not meant to be treated as rules, simply general concepts to consider. These aren’t rigid standards that control your every bite. Nourish your body out of self love, not hate.
Final note: If you are currently undergoing treatment for an eating disorder, it’s important to remember that even incorporating general nutrition concepts may not be appropriate for you yet. Exposure and embracing all types of food is a critical first step.
What intuitive eating principle do you want to hear about next?
Are you gentle with yourself when it comes to making food choices?
*Disclaimer: The following is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. Please discuss with your personal healthcare provider before making any dietary changes.