To Live Your Best Life, Learn to Trust Your Gut

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Although almost any weight-loss plan can yield short-term benefits, over time the pounds creep back, and it’s not unusual to end up weighing more than you did before you started dieting. Sun Basket’s Director of Nutrition, Lindsey Kane explains how intuitive eating can help you get off the diet-go-round for good

1. Reject the diet mentality.

For years we’ve chased one diet to the next, letting the latest fad dictate what, how much, and when to eat. This rigid lifestyle of restriction and deprivation can lead to a toxic relationship with food. The first step of intuitive eating is to make a commitmentto trust your gut when it comes to food choices. 

2. Honor your hunger.

While most diets require you to resist a growling stomach, intuitive eating is about rebuilding faith in your body’s cues. You’ll learn to be more aware of your hunger and how to respond appropriately to it before you become ravenous. Try this at home:Before each meal, rate your level of hunger, jot down a few internal cues that you observed, and the time of day. Do this for a week and you’ll become more in tune with your appetite, as well as which foods deliver long-lasting energy, and those that are fast burning and deliver short-lived satiety. 

3. Make peace with food.

Intuitive eating asks that you abandon the idea of good and bad food. That approach fuels a dangerous ‘all or nothing’ mentality that can lead to cravings for ‘forbidden’ foods, followed by binging and a rush of self-loathing and shame. Intuitive eating promotes the idea that food should always be a life-enhancing experience.

4. Challenge the food police.

A thorough mental house-cleaning and reframing attitudes toward food are crucial. Take note of any food-police thoughts you may have, such as “I was bad today” or “I shouldn’t eat that.” Resist the notion that your food choices define you and the value you bring to this world. Look out for people who may be consciously or unconsciously manifesting a food-police mentality, then share your intuitive eating philosophy with them and ask them to support you by keeping their negative comments to themselves. 

5. Respect your fullness.

The flip side of honoring your hunger is to respect when you’re full. Because diets limit what, when, and how much you eat, it’s easy to become disconnected from the internal signs that signal satiety. When you practice intuitive eating you start a meal with a lower level of hunger and in a frame of mind that allows you to be more sensitive to cues that you’re full. Plus, you know that you can refuel whenever you’re hungry again, and you won’t feel pressured to clean your plate. Try this at home: Use a satiety scale during meals to train your mind to get in touch with cues of satiety. Jot down observations of how you feel and what you ate. This will help determine when to put your fork down and walk away from a meal feeling comfortably nourished and energized.

6. Discover the satisfaction factor.

Intuitive eating encourages you to identify foods that truly make you feel good—not just during a meal, but afterward, too. You’ll find yourself gravitating towards and returning to the foods that make you feel your best. In addition to savoring your meals and eating foods that taste good and make you feel good, you can engage all your senses: slow down, appreciate the way the food looks, respect how it arrived at your plate, breathe in all of the aromas, and eat in an environment that feels good—bring on the flowers and candles—and with people who light you up.