HUK2014: Intuitive Eating

This page contains some introductory concepts on intuitive eating. Pages like this will have tutorials, updates and short but important sections from the new HUK e-book. You’ll have lifetime access to these pages.

I have many people reading HUK that have different goals (weight loss; weight gain; recomp; sports; pregnancy; metabolic recovery). Not every page will be relevant for you.  However, the new HUK e-book has in-depth material, and different chapters so you can skip to the precise topic you want, like ‘how to customize your diet according to your goals and health’. You will get the e-book soon.

Regardless of your specific goal…here is something you should know: 

Are all the conflicting diet/health messages out there driving you crazy? There are so many of them, with so many contradictory ideas that it gets confusing for a lot of people and tiresome for all.

If you’ve been reading what I write for awhile, you probably know that there are a lot of diet/food ideas and dogmas that can lead people astray from health and towards disordered dieting. Some can be harmful to you (low energy or gut issues, for example) both short- and long-term.

There’s a lot of evidence that a non-diet, non-restrictive approach to losing weight and improving health is actually more enjoyable AND more effective! I kid you not.

Remember, I went from veg to paleo to balanced omnivory and flexible dieting. Don’t get turned off by the term ‘dieting’ in this case. I’m talking about your diet, how and what you eat. Flexible dieting is a simple way to chill out with your diet and enjoy the process, rather than obsess over food.

A simple health goal for many people (in addition to learning how to cook) is to work towards ‘intuitive eating’. Intuitive or ‘mindful eating’ paired with moderation results in long-term weight loss and maintenance of healthy eating habits. The problem is that it’s not sexy or provocative enough to sell, so people are typically not interested in it.

These skills can be learned, even if you currently feel stuck in a bad relationship with food.

If you currently have health issues, there could be some complicating factors, but in most cases, these can be worked around. Some people have legitimate allergies or intolerances, and therefore need to avoid certain foods (i.e. celiacs need to avoid gluten).

However, what I’m proposing is that there are simpler and more helpful solutions to many of your health/GI issues than the super-restrictive and obsessive diets that are commonly promoted.

When you learn how to…

  • tune in to your hunger/satiety signals
  • mostly eat for physical hunger, energy and well being, rather than emotional reasons
  • eat what you want with no rigid rules or  lists of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods
  • self regulate without much concern for tracking or tweaking (CTFO)

…then you have an excellent chance of maintaining a lifelong pattern of eating that can keep you healthy and fit.

I will send you tips on mindfulness, meditation and restorative exercise. Keep this idea of intuitive eating as your chief goal.

PRO TIP: When you get better sleep, many of these ‘health’ or ‘weight loss’ results happen without much effort.

It takes some practice, but intuitive/mindful eating skills are within reach for most.

I eat intuitively most of the time. I take clients from wherever they are towards intuitive eating. Some of you may already have this down. That’s great, remember I said not every page will be relevant for everyone. Personally, I only track my calories only about 3 or 4 times per year to take a look at my mineral intake and total calories. The rest of the time, I follow the 80/20 rule and eat intuitively. More important than what I do though, is what will work for you. What works for you will take some experimentation. Keep a chilled-out approach with your experimentation and don’t get OCD with this stuff.

You can experiment with your diet in a few ways, and you don’t have to micromanage or get bogged down in lists of rules and fear-promoting rhetoric. You can track calories if you want to, if it helps you. You don’t have to track if you don’t want to. The goal of intuitive eating typically means you are good where you are. You don’t have a need to track calories.

Some of you will be able to auto-regulate your training as well. This is the good life.

Overall, people really need to learn to chill out with all of this diet stuff. Your beliefs about food can increase fear, anxiety and create unnecessary stress.

This recent article offers some good tips and talks about the current research on intuitive eating. Check it out:

Here are a few more supportive studies on the topic:

I mentioned above a term describing what I eat and encourage: omnivory. It basically means humans eating plants and animals, not going too extreme in either direction, but balanced in ways that work best for you.

The new Healthy Urban Kitchen will be chock full of tools and tips for getting away from diet dogma and cultivating a healthy, sane relationship with food, whether your goal is weight loss, improved health, better athletic performance, or any other goal you have.