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Intuitive nutrition - how it works

No more counting calories and annoying diets: simply listen to your own body - that's the basic idea behind intuitive eating. What's behind it and how can it help you lose weight?

Table of contents:
  • Intuitive eating - what exactly does it mean and how does it work
  • Five rules for intuitive eating
  • How do I know if I'm hungry or full
  • ? Hunger and appetite: what's the difference?
  • Intuitive eating - what exactly does it mean and how does it work?
  • What are the benefits of intuitive eating
  • More mindfulness when eating

What foods are allowed when eating intuitively

There are no food rules when eating intuitively. You eat whatever your body feels like. A key aspect of intuitive eating is listening to the body's own hunger and satiety signals. This means that you only eat when you are really hungry and stop eating when you feel full. If you consciously pay attention to your body for a longer period of time, after a while it will be better able to distinguish between hunger and appetite. You also learn to pay more attention to your feeling of fullness.

Five rules for intuitive eating

  1. Intuitive eating is all about enjoyment. Any food is allowed. Therefore, choose foods that taste good and are good for you
  2. . Pay attention to your feelings of hunger and satiety. Only eat when you are hungry and stop when the feeling of hunger subsides.
  3. Listen to your stomach and not your head to distinguish between hunger and appetite.
  4. Exercise a lot. Incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine to boost your well-being.
  5. Intuitive eating is a process that can take a while. So be patient.

How do I know if I'm hungry or full?

Various processes take place in the body when you are hungry: The blood sugar level drops, the stomach as well as the pancreas produce the so-called "hunger hormone" ghrelin and the nerves send corresponding signals to the hunger center in the brain, the hypothalamus. Both hunger and satiety are regulated in the hypothalamus and the corresponding hormones are then released. Classic hunger signals are stomach rumbling, loss of concentration, restlessness and mood swings such as irritability and anger.

When you feel full after a meal, you will notice this as follows: The hunger signals mentioned above, appetite and taste sensation decrease and a feeling of fullness spreads. Biologically speaking, it takes around 20 minutes for satiety to set in.

Adults have often forgotten how to correctly recognize hunger and satiety signals due to external influences (the plate has to be eaten empty) and habits (daily lunch break at 12 noon). Therefore, pay conscious attention to your body. This is because we often eat more than our bodies actually need.

Therefore, ask yourself the following three questions after eating:

  1. How does my body feel after the meal?
  2. Am I full?
  3. Did it taste good?

Hunger and appetite: what's the difference?

Hunger is a physiological reflex that expresses the necessary need for food. The body needs energy so that all vital processes in the organism can take place. Meals with a high protein and fiber content are primarily suitable for this, as such foods keep you full for longer.

Appetite is a psychological craving that arises in the mind and wants to be satisfied. It arises in the limbic part of the brain, the part responsible for emotions. It is therefore no wonder that we like to reach for a chocolate bar when we are stressed, heartbroken or bored. You can find out how stress can affect your muscle building in our blog post.

We are therefore only really hungry for cake in the rarest of cases, it is usually just an appetite. We get our appetite from external influences such as tasty smells, the visual appearance or from advertising on television or social media.

Interesting fact: Our brain has difficulty distinguishing between hunger and thirst because both sensations occur in the same area. So if you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first and wait about 15 minutes. If you are still very hungry afterwards, then you should eat something.

Which foods are allowed when eating intuitively

Basically, all foods are allowed when eating intuitively. However, anyone who thinks that this is a reason to eat snacks all day long is mistaken. Various studies have shown that intuitive eating is by no means limited to unhealthy foods, but rather the opposite. The body learns when and to what extent food is good for it.

Cravings are a thing of the past. There is no craving for unhealthy food, as everything is allowed at any time. Losing weight happens by the way.

Nevertheless, you should of course make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet and avoid ready-made products as far as possible. It is also important to eat three main meals that keep you full for a long time. However, if you do get the urge to snack, reach for healthy snacks such as vegetable sticks, nuts or fruit.

What are the benefits of intuitive eating?

There are no prohibitions when eating intuitively, every food is allowed. This gives you a relaxed relationship with food.

By working with your own body, you learn to perceive your body better and interpret its needs more clearly. This increases the overall well-being of the body. In addition, studies show that people who are mindful when eating have a lower rate of eating disorders.

More mindfulness when eating
Physical signals must first be "relearned" so that they are interpreted correctly and hunger is not confused with appetite. Simply ask yourself the question more often: "Why do you really want to eat now?". After a while, you will get a feel for this and learn to be mindful of your food.

Take your time when eating and don't let anything else distract you. This includes eating in front of the TV, at work or with your phone to your ear. This encourages us to shovel everything into us and not listen to our satiety signals.

Tip: Mental training such as meditation is a good help here. The aim is to achieve more joie de vivre, healthy eating habits and a positive self-perception. Because if you are at peace with yourself, you are less prone to frustration or stress eating.

Resch E. and Tribole E. (2013) Lose weight intuitively. Back to natural eating behavior. Goldmann publishing house. Munich. Barraclough E. L. et al. (2019): Learning to eat intuitively: A qualitative exploration of the experience of mid-age women. Health Psychol Open.