My Body Knows When: Weight Loss and Intuitive Eating Non-Diet Weight Management
If you have read about any weight loss diet, you have probably come across the phrase “mindful eating.” This approach to weight loss advocates listening to your body so you can be attuned to cues for hunger, fullness, and taste satisfaction cues. Some of the guidelines of Mindful Eating are as follows:
- Eat slowly
- Don”t eat while watching TV, working at the computer, or driving
- Use bodily sensations to assess fullness
- Choose food that is both nutritious and pleasing to the palate
- Use meditation to enhance control of eating choices
- Ask yourself WHY you are eating. The only time to eat is when you are hungry.
- Know your triggers. Do you eat to avoid feelings? Depression? Stress? Because your parents made you clean your plate? Once you are able to identify the non-hunger triggers for your eating, you can start to re-evaluate them and make deliberate choices to respond to them with something other than food.
One study from Indiana State University found that mindful eating greatly reduces binge eating and emotional eating. However, preliminary data indicates that mindful eating is only minimally successful in producing long-term weight loss. If you diet to lose weight, you need to change the way your think about eating.
Intuitive eating is a closely related weight loss management approach with a “knowing” paradigm. While traditional dieting includes specific directions such as “eat slowly” and “choose nutritious foods,” failure to stick to this regimen can lead to guilt and frustration… and ultimately, failure.
Instead, Intuitive eating suggests the following alternatives:
- Reject the notion of “bad” foods
- Eat whenever you are hungry
- Eat for physical, not emotional, reasons
Intuitive eating recognizes that Rrigid rules about forbidden foods may actually increase the enticing appeal of those foods. It further teaches that eating doesn”t “fix” things, and therefore the answer to life”s problems will not be found on the bottom of an ice cream container. When the idea of a “diet to lose weight” is discarded, all of those behaviors that involve restricting calories, fasting then overeating can be discarded as well. Intuitive eating does, however, necessitate re-learning what true physiological hunger feels like. This can take time and practice.
Research has shown that structured diets to lose weight do not work for long term weight loss. The February 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine cited a study that concluded diets to lose weight actually predicted weight gain. Similarly, researchers at UCLA studied the results of 31 long-term diet studies, and found that up to 67% of participants actually gained back MORE weight than they lost. Intuitive Eating was studied by a slots graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, who found that after 30 females diagnosed with bulimia underwent eight 90-minute sessions focused on intuitive eating, 81% no longer met the criteria for the disorder. Rejecting the idea of eating regimens seems to create a sense of control in regard to eating, rather than the lack of control associated with deprivation that results from strict adherence to a structured diet.
In spite of favorable data on intuitive eating, the weight loss mentality of the 68% of Americans who are overweight or obese continues to pose challenges. Rushed lifestyles can lead to fast food consumption, overeating and excessive snacking. Difficulty with becoming aware of feelings of hunger can also undermine an individual”s success when initially moving to an intuitive eating program. Some dietitians suggest that incorporating ideas of both mindful and intuitive eating could possibly lead to a highly effective way of achieving long term weight loss. These investigations are currently being conducted.
So what should people who are seeking weight loss do? A combination of mindful and intuitive eating can be combined to lead to maximum weight loss for long-term success. Learn more about these approaches and take what you can from both programs to create maximum benefits for you. Weight loss requires some form of self-control, no matter how you go about it. So tell yourself you will find a way, and remember this old adage: “The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people fail more.”