Your Student Life: The New Best Diet
July 31, 2022
Chocolate = bad
Salad = good
Pizza = bad
Vegetables = good
Isn’t it tiring having all of these “good” and “bad” labels racing through your head, controlling your thoughts, as you decide on what to eat? Now, imagine if you stopped categorizing food as “good” and “bad” and listened to what your body craved instead.
The new best diet is having no diet: it is listening to your body and eating intuitively. Intuitive eating is the concept of listening to your hunger cues and what your body is craving and allowing yourself to have it, no matter what it may be.
This concept may be hard to digest at first. When I first came across the idea of intuitive eating, I did not believe in it at all. In fact, I thought it was ridiculous. I didn’t understand how eating whatever I wanted could do any good for my physical health, mental health, or my appearance. I thought that if I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, I would never stop binging and eating the foods that I thought were “bad” for me.
When you restrict your body of what it needs, it can lead to extreme hunger and uncontrollable cravings. This can then trigger your body to go into binge mode, where you feel out of control with your eating. After binge eating however, you feel guilty, so you start to restrict again. Only, restriction doesn’t work for long, because you eventually end up going through the cycle again. This is known as the binge-restrict cycle, and it can have negative physical and emotional effects on you.
After focusing on intuitively eating for over a year now, I can say that it has tremendously helped to heal my relationship with food by eliminating the binge-restrict cycle from my life. Some days I want a burger with fries, so I will eat a burger with fries. Other days, I want a salad, so I will eat a salad. Allowing my body to listen to its cravings has tremendously helped me with overcoming binge eating. Not only is intuitive eating something that has worked for me personally, but many studies about intuitive eating have been conducted, and they all show very positive results.
Starting to focus on intuitive eating can seem very daunting at first, and it is totally okay if it does not initially come naturally. It is so hard to break the repetitive patterns of dieting that society has ingrained into our heads. Even as someone who whole-heartedly advocates for intuitive eating, I still struggle every once in a while to do it myself.
You can start practicing intuitive eating by asking yourself, “Am I hungry right now?” If you answer yes to that question, you can then ask, “What am I craving?” After choosing what you would like to eat and allowing yourself to have it, be in tune with how your stomach and body is feeling. If you are full before finishing all of your food, there is no pressure to force yourself to finish it. If you finish your food and still feel hungry, go for some more! There are no strict rules with intuitive eating: just principles to help guide you and your body to a healthier relationship with food.
Overall, intuitive eating has allowed me to have the best relationship with food that I have had in many years. Allowing your body to have freedom with food frees up so much of your time and energy. Instead of spending unnecessary time thinking about what foods you can and cannot have, you can spend time doing activities that will enhance and fulfill your life instead. I highly encourage you to give intuitive eating a try and start to better your relationship with food. Intuitive eating has changed my relationship with food for the better, and I hope it will have a positive impact on yours as well.
Body Project Student Assistant
Student Wellness Center
Office of Student Life