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I’m An Anti-Diet Dietitian: Learn How to Intuitively Eat
By Rachel Link, RD, MS
June 15, 2020
It seems like a new diet craze pops up every other week, claiming to instantly boost weight loss and ramp up fat-burning with next to no effort required. Unfortunately, these diets can be ineffective, unsustainable and even downright dangerous.
With so much focus on counting calories, losing weight and decreasing your dress size, it can be hard to imagine that better health can be achieved without following a restrictive diet.
However, the anti-diet movement promises to do just that. Instead of offering quick fixes or short-term solutions, it implements practices like mindfulness and intuitive eating to help improve your overall health in the long-run.
Not only that, but it can also positively impact your relationship with your food, your body and yourself.
The anti-diet movement has started gaining quite a bit of traction within the past few years. It is focused on promoting overall health rather than achieving a certain weight, setting strict food rules or following unsustainable fad diets. It also involves ditching diet culture, which is a system of beliefs based on the idea that being thin equates to being healthy.
The anti-diet movement is based around fostering healthy behaviors like mindfulness, self-care and body positivity. Unlike other “diet” plans, there’s no need to count calories or carbs, track your weight loss or even avoid any foods altogether. Instead, it involves simply listening to your body and enjoying a variety of nutritious whole foods as part of a balanced diet.
Intuitive eating is another key component of the anti-diet movement. Based on a 1995 book written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, intuitive eating is a practice that involves rejecting the diet mentality, eliminating any guilt associated with certain foods and learning to recognize hunger and satiety cues to avoid overeating.
Intuitive eating has been associated with a wealth of potential benefits and can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health.
In particular, it can help improve self-esteem and even alleviate issues like depression and anxiety by promoting a positive body image and a healthier relationship with food. In fact, studies conducted on intuitive eating demonstrate that it can improve overall quality of life, reduce disordered eating and enhance several aspects of psychological health as well.
Because it doesn’t eliminate any ingredients and doesn’t require counting calories or tracking nutrients, intuitive eating is also much more sustainable than many other eating patterns.
In addition to building long-term healthy habits, it may also be beneficial for sustainable weight control and improving other aspects of health, like heart health and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Ready to start taking advantage of the many potential benefits of intuitive eating? Here are a few tips and tricks to help get you started.
Letting go of unsustainable eating patterns and fad diets is crucial when it comes to promoting healthy eating habits. Start rejecting the dreaded diet mentality by tossing out any products or programs that promise a quick fix for weight loss and focus on fostering long-term change instead.
Learn to listen to your body to slowly recognize when you feel hungry, satiated or full. Honoring your hunger cues can help prevent overeating and keep your cravings from building up.
Similarly, recognizing satiety signals can help you learn when it’s time to put down your plate and stop eating.
Eliminating certain foods from your diet can lead to feelings of deprivation, often causing increased cravings and overeating. Instead of labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, without the guilt.
Stop being overly critical of your body and start learning to love and respect your body. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on the things that you like about yourself and embrace the things that make you unique.
Practicing body positivity can make it much easier to focus on building better habits to support overall health in the long-run.
Many of us use food as a coping mechanism to deal with feelings of stress, boredom or anxiety. Not only can this increase the risk of binge eating, but it can also foster a negative relationship with food without actually addressing any negative emotions.
Find other ways to cope with these feelings instead, such as journaling, listening to music or calling a friend.
When it comes to intuitive eating, squeezing regular physical activity into your daily routine is just as important as listening to your body and making healthy choices. In fact, exercise can increase energy levels, boost your mood and keep you feeling your best.
However, adding more movement to your day doesn’t mean you have to hit the pavement or sweat it out in a cycling studio. Instead, find an activity that you enjoy and can feel excited about, like taking a walk, dancing or playing sports.
Although intuitive eating can be beneficial for most, following an anti-diet approach to eating may not be right for everyone. In fact, some dietary restrictions may still be necessary for those with certain health conditions.
If you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications, be sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian before making any changes to your diet. Working with a trusted healthcare provider can help you determine which principles of intuitive eating you can safely incorporate into your routine and whether or not other specific dietary restrictions may also be necessary.
The anti-diet movement is focused on rejecting diet culture and improving health through behavior and lifestyle changes rather than unsustainable fad diets.
Intuitive eating is a key component of the anti-diet movement, which involves listening to your body, making peace with food and respecting your body.
Other important aspects of intuitive eating include promoting body positivity, practicing regular physical activity, and finding other healthy coping mechanisms to deal with your emotions.
Rachael Link, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian based in New York City. She completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Central Missouri and later received her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Rachael is passionate about plant-based nutrition and enjoys providing easy-to-understand information to readers looking to support their health.