Switching a Diet Culture Mindset to an Intuitive Eating Mindset

Diet culture is pervasive. Ask anyone the best way to lose weight and get in shape, and they’ll likely recommend a type of diet from one of today’s most popular including juice fasting, the Keto diet, and Paleo. But the societal diet mindset is potentially harmful to younger generations who seek to look more like the influencers and celebrities they follow. The unrealistic expectations of what young women should look like have led to an eating disorder epidemic with conditions including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. 

Nutritionists alarmed with the current eating disorder trend are turning to an alternative to the traditional diet called intuitive eating. The intuitive eating mindset encourages people to listen to their bodies’ needs to eat what they desire (within reasonable constraints) instead of feeling deprived all the time. Bringing balance back to the habit of eating eliminates deprivation, which usually leads to the see-saw diet, or in more extreme cases, binge eating.

Let’s take a closer look at how intuitive eating works and why you should consider the practice instead of turning to harmful dieting for fast results. 

The Facts

A global obesity epidemic plagues the western world. The U.S. tops all countries when it comes to rates of obesity, but the United Kingdom isn’t too far behind. Two-thirds of adults in the U.K. are obese or overweight. The weight problem has far-reaching consequences. An overweight society puts a strain on the healthcare system due to the diseases associated with being overweight.

Obesity, in particular, leads to other health issues including heart disease, cancer, and type-2 diabetes. Nurses and healthcare practitioners must often treat patients for their obesity to reduce the likelihood of the diseases mentioned, but by the time a medical practitioner has to intervene, there may be few natural alternatives left. Obese patients may be prescribed weight-loss medication or have to undergo gastric bypass surgery.

Intuitive Eating is Only One Part of the Process

The principles of intuitive eating are simple: eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. But there are other nuances. Eating pizza and ice cream until you’re full isn’t the right choice. One should choose wholesome, nutritious foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and proteins such as poultry or fish. 

Changing up your eating habits by going back to basics may take time before you see results. But rest assured, making changes to how you see dieting and choosing to eat intuitively may be slow, but it’s sustainable. 

The concept sounds simple enough, but many people may find it challenging to stick to a healthful eating program. For example, the stressors of the coronavirus pandemic and the shelter at home measures have led many to cope with their stress by eating more. Besides intuitive eating, practices such as working out, mindfulness, and other life-extending activities should be included to maintain a healthy mindset and encourage weight loss.

The Link Between Mental Health and Intuitive Eating

As mentioned, everyday stressors may make eating reasonably more difficult. Many people binge eat when they’re stressed. Finding ways to relieve anxiety and stress, which may lead to bad eating habits, is critical. 

If you work in a hectic workplace, mindfulness while at work could help to keep you centered and balanced. To be more mindful, take short breaks of just a few minutes to check in with how you’re feeling. You may want to sit outside to take in some fresh air and mentally review your body to release any physical tensions you may feel. You can release stress by shaking out your arms or relaxing your clenched jaw.

Being more mindful about your stress levels when you’re working and taking measures to reduce it will support your new intuitive eating mindset. It’s also essential to be mindful of what you’re snacking on at work. It’s all too easy to eat the junk snacks clients or colleagues bring to work when you’re stressed. Avoid the candy and cakes and pack your own healthy options such as trail mix or chopped vegetables. 

Physical Activity for Weight Loss

To achieve greater results from your new commitment to intuitive eating, add a fitness routine to your new intuitive eating mindset. The physical fitness routine should involve more than just working out at the health club three times per week. You should increase your daily activity to help your body burn fat beyond the times you visit the gym. The concept is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT

To incorporate NEAT, take time throughout the day to walk instead of drive, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or do some push-ups or squats a few times per day. The goal is to increase your daily physical activity instead of waiting to give it your all on the days you go to the fitness center. 

New Mindset, New Life

Adopting a new mindset is never easy, but it could come with many rewards. It’s time for society as a whole to look at the damage they’re doing when they focus on fast results from dieting. Changing your mindset and recognizing that weight loss and health are lifelong processes can provide a better example for younger generations as well as improve the public’s health.

Indiana Lee

Indiana Lee lives in the Northwest and has a passion for the environment and wellness. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors on a regular basis. Indiana loves experiencing new things and sharing with others what she learns through her writing. You can chat with Indiana on twitter @IndianaLee3