If you’re tired of the mental food police constantly assessing what you put in your mouth, and you don’t trust yourself to eat well without the constant judgement, intuitive eating may be a good option for you to finally make peace with food.
Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to a harmonious relationship with food and your body that ultimately leads to caring for yourself well with food.
It is based on the premise that we are all born with an understanding of when we are hungry, satisfied, and what we need to nourish ourselves, and this intuition can be reclaimed even after decades of All or Nothing dieting.
Women over 60 have specific nutritional needs related to bone health and chronic disease prevention or treatment that require sustained healthy eating.
Intuitive eating offers a gentle nutritional approach that allows for indulgences and pleasure while also helping you incorporate healthy foods that satisfy nutritional needs, as an alternative to the black and white rules of dieting.
Prevalence of eating disorders in older women is on the rise, some sources say at least 13% of women over 50 engage in disordered eating.
Studies of intuitive eating consistently find a reduction in disordered eating for people who eat intuitively. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, you can get support in the US at the National Eating Disorder Helpline. For Canada, support can be found from the National Eating Disorder Information Center. UK based individuals can find help with the Helplines at Beat Eating Disorders.
If you reside in a different country, you can google “eating disorder help [country]”.
One thing I consistently hear from my mature clients about dieting is this: “I didn’t think I’d still be doing this at my age.”
Intuitive eating offers an alternative to the mental turmoil of going on and off diets. It allows you to connect with your physical and emotional needs and meet those differently from restricting food.
The best way to get started with intuitive eating is to get curious about whether or not you are hungry when you eat, and what you might be hungry for.
Stay kind to yourself while you practice this non-judgement curiosity, and you may be surprised by what you find.
Since intuitive eating is a new way of relating to food, you may benefit from reading a book on the subject or working with a Registered Dietitian one-on-one.
In the meantime, the 10 principles of intuitive eating, originally created by Registered Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, can give you an idea of what is involved in creating this change:
The biggest concern I hear from women who are interested in implementing intuitive eating is that if they allow themselves to eat what they desire when they are hungry, they will end up eating large quantities of foods that aren’t very healthy.
Some amount of eating ice cream for dinner when you finally give up food rules is normal, and yet when you are tuned into how your body feels and what you desire, most people will start to notice a desire for more grounding and energizing foods after a few days of ice cream.
If you struggle with food cravings, it can help to develop trust with yourself before attempting intuitive eating, you’re welcome to download the free Cravings Busting Audio Guide to help you do so.
Intuitive eating is not a weight loss diet, although some people will lose weight as a result.
When you are eating in response to your body’s cues, you may find your weight naturally settles at your personal “ideal body weight,” based on your genetics and environmental factors.
Sleep disturbances, stress, medications that change metabolism or appetite and other factors can change your desire to eat, thereby effecting weight while practicing intuitive eating.
Working to optimize sleep, manage stress, and care for your emotions may be helpful if you need help managing weight.
Another common barrier is that All or Nothing Dieting can disconnect you from the sensations of hunger and fullness. It is possible to get acquainted with these sensations, and it may take some trial and error.
Some things that can help if you’re struggling with recognizing hunger and fullness is rating your sense of hunger before eating and after eating, and putting down your fork part way through a meal to check in with physical sensations in your body.
Intuitive eating is a great way to get reconnected with your body and desires, even while it may be challenging in early stages to implement because there is no strict plan to follow.
What questions do you have about intuitive eating? Have you tried it before? What has been your experience?