Intuitive eating is a term that is getting popular in health and fitness circles promoting the “listen to your body and you’ll know what to eat” theory. But is eating healthy and treating your body with respect that simple?
This is what comes up first when I Google the term: “Intuitive eating is about trusting your inner body wisdom to make choices around food that feel good in your body, without judgment and without influence from diet culture. We are all born with the skill to eat, to stop when we are full, to eat when we’re hungry and to eat satisfying foods.”
Does that mean that managing your diet by restricting your food intake – watching portions, calories, or food choices – will cause dissatisfaction? So basically you should just eat and drink whatever you want to, in any amount, regardless of what effects it has on your appearance and health?
Let’s say you want to eat a cake every day… Should you listen to your body?
“We should 100% listen to our bodies, they are our guides, but we need to listen to the right signals, at the right time, and what the signals actually mean” – says Ben Coomber, the founder of BTN Academy.
There is a stark difference between wanting a slice of cake because it’s Christmas and mom made an amazing dessert, compared to just craving cake because you got used to treating yourself daily when you’re done with a hard day, or you feel tired, or you are not in the best mood and cake seems to fix the problem. Or because the cake was on sale and you have to eat it all. Those signals sound wrong.
Even if you are not a manic calorie counter (you shouldn’t be), sometimes it is good to know how many calories you’re putting in your body. A 300 or 600 calorie slice of cake is a lot for someone who only needs 2000 calories a day to maintain his/her ideal body weight. 300 calories can be a snack but 600 calories is almost a third of that person’s daily caloric need. It is basically their lunch.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against cakes. I eat cake. But it is very important to be aware of when we really want that cake because it will make us happy or we’re just eating it because it’s there or we just have a bad habit.
Intuitive eating is great, but if you don’t understand food, if you don’t have a rough idea about how many calories each food item contains then it’s good to learn (read the labels on every food and drink, use calorie counter apps, such as MyFitness Pal, and read the “Start with the grocery shopping” article by clicking here), so you can eat intuitively but in an informed way.