Can Intuitive Eating Really Help You Lose Weight?

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If I asked why you struggle to lose weight and keep it off, what would you say? The answers I commonly get to this question have to do with portion control, extra snacking, feeling too restricted and hungry, and simply losing motivation. This is no surprise, since most weight loss programs give you a one-size-fits-all plan, which is a problem because, well, one size does not fit all. Typical methods of losing weight are often too restrictive (to deliver faster results) and lack flexibility, so they don’t easily fit into your schedule and everyday life.

If you don't tune into your body, maintaining your weight will always be a struggle.

The truth about managing your weight is that you can have all the advice and tools at your fingertips, but if it’s not genuinely what works for you, it will be a daily struggle to be consistent and stay motivated. Most programs emphasize calories, macros, exercise plans, restriction, or fasting, but they fail to help you learn what your body actually needs and how to support it throughout the day. Weight loss advice is like giving you a bunch of puzzle pieces and then leaving you to figure out how to fit them together and which ones belong to the puzzle at all.

So what's the answer to long-term weight management? Intuitive eating is one tool that can help you connect with your body and find out what's working for you—and what's not. Instead of focusing on things like calories or restricting carbohydrates, intuitive eating helps you focus on your needs and specific preferences. You can set your own pace, find a balance of macronutrients you’re comfortable with, and ultimately create a lifestyle that supports a healthy weight for life.

When you figure out what foods work with your body, it becomes second nature to eat them.

Intuitive eating is also a great way to naturally change your habits and turn toward healthier meals. This is because you'll pay close attention to your eating habits and how certain foods make you feel, physically and mentally. Then, you can improve your food choices based on what makes you feel best, naturally phasing out the foods that leave you feeling sluggish or bloated—or foods that often trigger overeating. The truth is that preferences change frequently and intuitive eating helps you adapt to those changes. Some days you might feel hungrier than others or crave certain foods and nutrients. If your weight loss approach isn’t flexible, it will be a struggle to stay on track, and it will leave you feeling burned out.

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How to tune into your body and strengthen your intuition about food.

You’ve probably noticed that voice in your head or feeling you get when you’re eating too much or eating when you’re not hungry. This is your intuition telling you what feels right and what doesn’t. Strengthening this voice and listening to it is not only empowering but can also help you find lasting success. It takes a little time to train but like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Below are ways you can strengthen your intuition:

1. Sit down and always eat mindfully.

Mindful eating is a key to healthy weight loss and strengthening your intuition about food. And don't worry; it's not complicated; it's all about being present while eating and feeling connected to your food. You can start by asking yourself—before eating or taking a second helping—if you’re actually hungry, if your next move is in your best interest, and if you’ll regret it later. You can also eat slower, chew more, use smaller portions, and notice the flavors and textures in the food you eat. Mindful eating will give you a newfound appreciation for food and help you really tune into your body.

2. Carve out time for yourself.

Life is busy. You might feel pulled in many directions and have little time, but even in these circumstances, you can improve your eating habits. Making time to clear your head and be present throughout the day helps you make healthier choices, appreciate your progress, celebrate small wins, and adjust your goals as needed.

People often snack when they’re bored or stressed. Instead of eating, use this time to self-indulge in other ways. It’s helpful to find a more restorative or meaningful replacement—things like going for a walk outside, taking a warm bath, treating yourself to a spa treatment, getting your nails done, reading, doing something crafty or creative, or chatting with a supportive friend can all do the trick and help you tune into what you're really craving. Is it food—or just a little more self-care?

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3. Learn to trust your instinct, no matter what.

It’s easy to override your intuition. Unhealthy habits can be part of our social life, and it can be challenging to go against the grain. The people you surround yourself with, the stores where you shop, the restaurants you choose, the shows you watch, and the blogs and social media accounts you follow can all influence your decisions and ability to connect with your own unique body.

You can’t eliminate all distractions in life, but you can greatly reduce them! Start by identifying and limiting your exposure to things that contradict your intuition and the lifestyle you want, then find ways to support the healthier choices you want to make. This can be as easy as taking a few minutes away from social media and the internet to ask yourself what feels right to you.

Once you strengthen your intuition to know what your body needs and what works best, you have to be consistent to achieve lasting results, which can be a challenge in everyday life. This guide will help you learn more ways to strengthen your intuition and be consistent with healthier habits, so you can lose weight for good. And remember: Allow yourself time and be patient—the end results will be worth it.

Here's why intuitive eating is the best thing you can do for your waistline (even if it means eating three slices of pizza).

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