Trust your gut

By 2nd Lt. Riordan Dail, Madigan Dietetic InternFebruary 2, 2021

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MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – Few people would be surprised to hear that “start a diet” is a popular New Year’s resolution year after year. According to an Inc. Magazine survey of almost 275,000 Americans, it was in the top five most common resolutions for 2020. Forbes reported that the most popular diets ranged anywhere from eating fewer carbs to only eating un-cooked foods.

Problems with traditional, restrictive diets like these have continued to come to light over the years. They are often hard to abide by, and many cause more harm than good. Research shows that when a person diets more often, they increase their likelihood of gaining weight and having low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, and depression.

What many people do not realize is that the best diet is one their body already knows.

Intuitive eating (IE) is a non-diet approach. IE revolves around trusting your body and healing your relationship with food. It works by tuning into your own hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. The ten principles include rejecting diet culture, honoring your hunger, and eating foods you enjoy that make you feel your best.

IE has a wide variety of benefits including improved cholesterol, self-esteem, and body image. Research shows it may also lower total stress. Currently, more registered dietitian-nutritionists (RDNs) use IE approaches than the traditional, restrictive diet methods.

“As our society has evolved to view food as something to be controlled, it seems that we have forgotten our innate ability to manage our nutrition intake,” said Priscilla Rumph, a RDN at Madigan Army Medical Center’s Puyallup Community Medical Home. “IE provides us with a map back to a place where science and intuition work together to help us be both healthy and at peace with our eating habits and our bodies.”

Although the “just listen to your body” approach may seem too simple, it can be surprisingly difficult. Fortunately, there are endless tips and tricks that can help.

Use a scale to rate your hunger and fullness. This can help you understand when and how much to eat. The scale is measured from one to ten where one is extremely hungry and ten is extremely full. A good goal is to start eating at a level three and stop eating at a level seven.

Another beginner’s tip is to create a pro-IE environment. This includes turning off the TV or phone, eating slowly, and focusing on how the food looks, smells, feels, and tastes.

Setting small goals increases the likelihood of success. For example, decide to eat free of distractions at the table three times per week. This type of goal is a good way to start on a path to success and victory over diet culture.

While intuitive eating may be difficult to start, the benefits of eating the foods you like, losing the food guilt, and trusting your gut to pick the right foods are well worth the journey.

To learn more about IE, or to get help with your nutrition journey, the RDNs at Madigan Army Medical Center are here for you. To make an appointment, you can call the Nutrition Clinic at (253) 968-0547 and select Option 2.

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