So what is the fuss with Intuitive Nutrition?

A few weeks ago, I attended a Intuitive Nutrition workshop run by Eat With Johanie in Lausanne. I had a fairly good idea as to what would be included in this workshop as I have been personally interested in nutrition for a few years now. I have attempted to follow so many various different diets and gone to some stupid extremes, thinking that I would magically loose a lot of body fat. But before we get into what I learnt from Johanie, you need to know a little about me and then I shall tell you more about Intuitive Nutrition.

(A little history about myself…)

At the age of 13/14 years old, I ended up gaining some weight which continued to increase for a few years (until after University). I was never a particularly bad eater and I was not completed sedentary either but I guess my energy output vs input was just too low. At 24, I joined my very first kettlebell course and our coach also provided us with nutrition guidelines ( I ended up loosing weight quickly but steadily without doing anything too crazy) and from this I started exploring the fitness and nutrition industry a lot more carefully (perhaps going too far at some points in my life…you live and learn right??)

Over the years, I have counted calories on and off in order to best monitor my goals ( muscle gain, fat loss, maintenance) as if you want to gain muscle, you need to consume more than your burn, you want to loose body fat, you need to be burning more than you are consuming. But counting calories is not very practical for everyone and does getting used to. If we think about the fundamentals of eating and food, we were not trained as babies to eat an X amount, we just knew when we were full or no longer wanted to eat.

OK so enough about me…

What is Intuitive Nutrition ??

The definition of intuitive nutrition is as follows:

“It is about becoming more attuned to your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals. It is learning how to distinguish between physical feelings (hunger pangs, nausea, headache, or difficulty concentrating) and emotional feelings (disappointed, anger, sadness and anxious)”1.

If you are interested in giving this a go then here are the basic rules I learnt about Intuitive Nutrition:

  1. STOP using the word DIET – you will have been told everything under the sun on how you can loose 7kg in 2 weeks or whatever… just stop listening to any of these fad diets!!
  2. Listen to your body as much as possible (eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full…) Easier said than done… I know !!!
  3. Allow yourself a daily treat. If  you absolute want that mars bar everyday then do it !  (stopping yourself from enjoying your favourite chocolate etc will only make you want it more anyway) You may realise after a few days that you just won’t want it anymore anyway.
  4. Keep your diet balanced as much as possible but don’t make yourself feel guilty for eating ice cream or give yourself a high 5 because all you had was one lettuce leaf all day (eye roll).
  5. Think about what is on your plate and try to avoid being distracted by your phone (yes, I know you are all laughing at me now) or the tv and focus on what is going into your mouth. The more you are aware, the easier it is to know when to stop.
  6. Start with a smaller plate of food and if after 15 mins you are still hungry, then help yourself to more.
  7. Don’t let emotions control your relationship with food – yes this is probably the hardest thing you can do. Try to find other ways of dealing with your emotions such as relaxation techniques, spending time with close friends, exercising, enjoying a tv show etc. Message me if you need to !
  8. Respect who you are –  do not try to be eating the same as your friend who is 30kg lighter and about 20 cm shorter than you. No two people are the same so you shouldn’t all be eating the same way either.
  9. Keep moving !!  you don’t need to be doing crazy amounts of exercise but just remember to get up and walk about. It will also help you mentally as well as physically if you can maintain an active lifestyle.
  10. Don’t be afraid…. you won’t gain weight from one week to the next, you won’t loose weight from one week to the next. Having ice cream everyday can fit into your daily meals if you want it too. A scoop a day won’t do you any harm.

My experience so far…

I have been spending the last few weeks or so trying to eat intuitively (which is quite hard when you are on holiday.) Even in the couple of weeks before I left to go on holiday, I was finding myself wondering if I was too paranoid about trying to differenciate between being hungry, thirsty, greedy ?! Some days, I was left with no energy for my crossfit session, other days I was bouncing off the walls with energy. I naturally eat a very balanced diet so I would not been someone who would naturally drift towards wanting to eat lots of fast food from one day to the next.

Whilst being away, I naturally relaxed my diet a little more (as I would on any holiday… Hello there you delicious G&Ts and restaurant meals…) I have also decreased my exercise sessions a lot because it is important to use the time to relax and recharge.  So not only had I been eating  and drinking what I felt like eating and drinking, but I had only been exercising when I felt like doing so too.

And do you want to know what happened…. I didn’t gain any weight. I may have gained a cm or so around my waist but I am so far from being bothered by that. I had a great 2 weeks (need to start planning my next trip…)

I am going to carry on this intuitive nutrition phase, I will resume eating as I had before I left (no crazy low carb, low fat, water only diets…) and I have measured and weighed myself at the start of it and will do so after another few weeks so that you can get a good idea of how (if at all) my body has physically changed (it probably won’t…)

 

Let me know if you are going to give this intuitive eating a go too in the comments below…

Please sign up to Johanie’s workshops as she will be able to go into more detail about this concept:

http://eatwithjoh.com

  1. http://www.med.umich.edu/docs/tip-2011/intuitiveeating-0811.pdf