The rise of non-dieting: What to know about intuitive eating

Every year, millions of Americans go on diets.

For many of them, long-term weight loss proves to be an elusive goal. Most people who lose weight eventually regain it.

While medical experts continue to study the potential upsides of dieting, some people are turning to non-diet approaches to eating to reshape their relationship with food.

This non-diet approach includes intuitive eating, a nutritional philosophy that encourages practitioners to eat mindfully and pay attention to their body’s internal hunger signals.

Instead of counting calories or categorizing foods as “good” versus “bad,” intuitive eaters try to “honor their hunger,” “honor their fullness,” and “reject the food mentality.”

Sources trusted in research suggest that intuitive eating may not be an effective weight loss strategy, but it does appear to have other physical and mental health benefits.

“Intuitive eating is associated with improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure and markers of inflammation,” says Don Clifford, a registered dietitian and associate professor of health sciences at Northern Arizona University.

“In terms of mental health, intuitive eating is associated with improved body image, lower levels of depression and self-esteem,” she adds.


Reconnect with the body
Anyone can potentially benefit from intuitive eating, Melissa Mazumder, a dietitian at the Brigham and Women’s Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery in Boston and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Healthline.

But it can be especially helpful for people who have trouble listening to their body’s internal signals, including people with a history of chronic dieting.

“I try to teach people to connect with their body and listen and feel the signals that are there,” she said, “that they’re ignoring because of other environmental factors or the way they’ve trained their body.

“I work in bariatric surgery and weight management,” he continued, “and I have patients who have dieted their whole lives and really struggled with their weight and don’t know when they’re hungry and full because they’re kind of emotional. squashed.

Majumdar uses intuitive eating techniques to help those individuals reconnect with their bodies.

He encourages them to pay attention to the effects of different foods and eating habits on appetite and fullness, energy levels and attention span, and mood.

She also encourages people to explore their food cravings, pausing and reflecting on what triggers their appetites before acting on them.

“I like to use something I call HALT. approach with people,” he said. “Find out whether you are happy, angry, lonely or tired, and why you have other emotions associated with these desires.”

Majumdar wants people to explore their passions.

“Sometimes that means, having an ice cream cone and that’s OK,” she said. “But sometimes we use food to replace some emotion or some feeling.”

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