Terri K. Lankford, LPCS
Holistic Health: the Benefits of Intuitive Eating
If you’ve been following along with our Holistic Health blog post series, you’ll have learned about two aspects of holistic health: sleep and movement. You would have learned that:
Holistic health means looking at a person as a whole being, not just a part of a being.
Sleep is essential for both our physical and mental health.
Joyful movement can reduce our feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.
In the third part of this series, we’ll cover something everyone does: eating.
Eating can be complicated for some folx. You may be a chronic yo-yo dieter: that is, someone that tries a diet, loses a couple pounds, then gains it back plus some. The news is: restrictive diets don’t work for 95% of people. In fact, restrictive dieting is actually a cause for weight GAIN. Read that again: you’re cutting out your favorite foods just to GAIN weight. And note: there’s not a problem with weight gain, but this likely wasn’t the effect you were going for when you began restricting your food intake.
So, what’s the alternative? A diverse diet without restrictive, rigid food rules. Intuitive eating, or not assigning moral value to foods, has shown to decrease depressive symptoms, decrease body dissatisfaction, and even reduce BMI in the long run.
How does a diverse diet impact your holistic health, and how can you make sure you’re eating intuitively? We’re glad you asked!
The Impacts of Intuitive Eating on Physical Health:
Intuitive eating is an approach to eating that emphasizes listening to and honoring your body's natural hunger, fullness, and satisfaction cues, rather than following external rules or restrictions. This approach can have a positive impact on physical health in a number of ways. By eating when you are truly hungry and stopping when you are full, you may be better able to maintain a healthy weight and avoid the negative physical and psychological effects of chronic dieting. Intuitive eating can also help you develop a more positive relationship with food and your body, which can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Additionally, by choosing foods that truly satisfy you, rather than those that are simply deemed "healthy" by external sources, you may be more likely to consume a balanced and varied diet that provides the nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
The Impacts of Intuitive Eating on Mental Health:
Intuitive eating has the potential to positively impact mental health in a number of ways. By rejecting external rules and restrictions around food and instead tuning in to your body's internal signals of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction, you may experience a greater sense of control over your eating habits and a reduced risk of disordered eating. This can lead to improved body image, self-esteem, and overall psychological well-being. Intuitive eating may also help to reduce anxiety and depression related to food and body image, as well as improve emotional regulation and stress management skills. By fostering a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude towards oneself and one's body, intuitive eating can help individuals develop a more positive relationship with food and their bodies, which can have far-reaching benefits for mental health.
How to Incorporate Intuitive Eating:
Reject the diet mentality: Intuitive eating involves letting go of the idea that there is a "perfect" or "ideal" diet that you should be following. Instead, focus on listening to your body's internal cues and eating in a way that feels satisfying and nourishing.
Honor your hunger: Pay attention to your body's signals of hunger, and eat when you are truly hungry. This may involve keeping healthy snacks on hand, and avoiding prolonged periods of hunger that can lead to overeating later on.
Make peace with food: Give yourself permission to eat all types of food, without guilt or shame. This can help to break the cycle of restrictive eating and bingeing.
Challenge the food police: Reject external rules and restrictions around food, and tune in to your own internal signals of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction.
Respect your fullness: Pay attention to your body's signals of fullness, and stop eating when you feel comfortably satisfied. Avoid overeating, but also don't restrict yourself from enjoying the foods you love.
We hope this blog post helped inform you about holistic health, and just one element of it: intuitive eating! If you want more holistic help, look no further than Rise and Thrive Counseling. Our holistic counselors can help address all areas of life - including diet and thoughts around food. Reach out today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!