Ever wondered how you could possibly lose weight and not have to force yourself through another torturous diet? Try the intuitive eating approach Anti-dieting has been popular since Oprah and more recently Dr Oz promoted the benefits of approaching weight loss without the constraints of traditional diet guidelines.
Intuitive eating , unlike traditional dieting, is a permissive, rather than restrictive approach to eating that takes the pain out of weight loss. Instead of having a long list of things you can’t eat, the anti-diet gives you full control over what you eat and when you eat it. As. Long. As. You’re. Hungry.
INTUITIVE EATING IS PSYCHOLOGICAL
Taking celebrity personalities like Oprah and Dr Oz out of the equation and focusing on the science and method rather than the hype, the anti-diet is really nothing more than learning to eat properly. Most people don’t eat when they’re not hungry. Most people don’t overeat. Most people don’t crave unhealthy, sugary, fatty foods all the time and sweat and squirm if there are cookies baking in the oven, worrying that when they’re done they will just eat them all.
While many people have reported success with ‘intuitive eating’ and ‘anti-dieting’ plans what they’re really doing is not following some new program or method, but just relearning how to eat for the purpose of eating – to satisfy hunger and to enjoy the taste of food.
ANTI-DIET PLANS ARE HEALTHY EATING PLANS
Nothing more or less. I’ve tried ‘intuitive eating’ not even knowing what it was. I read a book about the benefit of staying off fad diets by learning to listen to your body and respond to hunger cues rather than emotional cues. It wasn’t easy. If intuitive eating is the normal way you eat – that is, if you don’t regularly eat healthy portion sizes of healthy foods – you’re going to struggle.
I have lots of habits that I find really hard to break. I find it hard not to ‘clean my plate’ even if I’ve eaten enough. I find it hard not to eat dessert even if I’m full from my main meal. I find it hard to eat a salad, even if that’s what I’m feeling like eating, when there’s a couple of pizzas just come through the door. And this is the way most people are going to respond to the anti-diet plan or program or whatever somebody calls it, particularly at first.
INTUITIVE EATING: IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES
So what happens when someone hears about intuitive eating on TV? They end up treating intuitive eating as another diet. They force themselves to follow the ‘plan’ when in reality there really is no plan. My concern with the ‘intuitive eating/anti-diet, is that they will jump into it because of a sound-byte on Oprah or Dr Oz, rather than taking the time and effort to read about the principles of the intuitive eating philosophy thoroughly until they ‘get it’.
Of course that’s not really something everyone is going to manage to do. The very fact that they have a problem with overeating is something that is already a strike against the idea they will suddenly ‘get it’ just because Oprah said it’s great.
Like anything, moderation is the key to healthy eating. Learning to listen to your body’s hunger cues is a definite step forward to anyone who has a problem with food. Even if you can learn to recognize you’re really craving a nice healthy salad to top up some vitamins and nutrients or replenish hydration – and you manage to do what your body is asking every other time – you’re better off.
I think that it’s not a great idea for a regular person like me to take hyped-up TV shows too seriously when they’re promoting something like anti-dieting or intuitive eating. It’s something that you have to remember is just ‘eating’. The ‘intuitive’ part is a great word to tack on if you’re trying to sell a book or market it in an already saturated industry. It sounds great. It sounds clean. It sounds intelligent. But that’s what eating in a healthy, normal way is. Without the book cover.
REAL PEOPLE HAVE REAL EATING PROBLEMS
I think that if you have a huge problem with chocolate chip cookies, keep them out of reach. The anti-diet would have you make sure you keep your cookie jar full in case your body tells you it wants one. It’s kind of like an alcoholic recovery program that says keep your bar stocked, but don’t drink unless you want to. It’s not good. The problem with the alcoholic is that they have an inappropriate relationship with alcohol, maybe even a disease.
An alcoholic will not avoid all social situations. But they will stay out of bars and keep alcohol out of their home. That’s the way I think I’ve found success approaching the anti-diet (not that I ever called it that or called it anything when I was working out my own way of learning to listen to my body and respond to my hunger not my emotional or psychological issues with food).
For example, I don’t buy chocolate. If I crave it, I take a few breaths and think of an alternative. I eat fruit, I eat cake, I eat ice-cream, I have some juice. Why? My body is craving something sweet, but… I have a problem with chocolate. I’ve eaten block after block and I don’t want to risk taking a bite and falling off the wagon. In doing this I’ve not only learned to listen to my body, I’ve learned to negotiate with my mind and also learned that there are lots of other good and not so good foods that I can enjoy without risking my body over a bit of chocolate.
LEARNING TO EAT HEALTHY FOOD CONSISTENTLY
For me, learning to eat ‘intuitively’ was just learning to eat healthy. I know ‘eating healthy’ isn’t a title that is going to sell me any books or get me a spot on Oprah (not that she has a show anymore). But learning to eat healthy is what people who are dieting and on weight loss programs are striving to do and have been striving to do for a long time. They will continue to strive to do it long after the anti-diet has been forgotten and a new catchword title replaces it.
Obesity and health problems associated with being overweight are serious and if you’re suffering from it then you need to forget Oprah or Dr Oz and do the best you can to eat the best you can, consistently. If a book about intuitive eating helps, great! Seriously. But remember what it is you’re really learning to do.