In my last article (http://www NULL.julia-dinardo NULL.php/site/article/dieting_the_worst_way_to_lose_weight/), I explained why diets don’t work, and how they can actually do more harm than good (from causing weight gain to contributing to the development of eating disorders).  But if diets don’t work, and you really want to lose a few pounds, what will?

The answer is lies in looking at the ingredient missing in most diets: your relationship with food. In order for your weight to change, so do your thoughts, feelings and actions around food.  Intuitive eating, an approach developed by Eveyln Tribole and Elyse Resch, helps you do just that.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches people how to become more attuned to their bodies’ hunger signals, rather than keeping track of calories.  The process focuses on developing a healthy relationship with food, mind and body.

The basic premise is that we all contain an inner wisdom that knows exactly what we want to eat, and how much to eat at any given moment.  Skeptical?  Think of how a baby or small toddler eats: when they’re hungry, they know it (and so do you!), and no amount of pushing and prodding can get them to eat when they aren’t.  However, somewhere along the way many of us lose touch with our body’s hunger and fullness signals. Food rules learned at home or at school (“finish your plate!”), or being given food as a treat or a comfort, can eventually distort our natural relationship with food.

Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach that can help reverse this distortion.  It is also sometimes referred to as conscious or mindful eating.  However, it is also much more than that.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

In order to embrace this way of thinking and eating, there are 10 principles you can follow.  While it can be helpful to work through each one by one, remember that Intuitive Eating is a process, and it takes time to fully transition and heal your relationship with food.  (For a full description of these principles, buy the book (http://astore or go to the official Intuitive Eating (http://www NULL.intuitiveeating NULL.php) website.)

1. Reject the diet mentality: by letting go of the hope that there is a diet out there somewhere that will “save” you, you can find new hope in this approach.

2. Honour your hunger: eat when you’re hungry, so you don’t go into starvation mode and trigger “primal hunger.”

3. Make peace with food: give yourself unconditional permission to eat – food is always more attractive when it’s forbidden.

4. Challenge the food police: stop listening to that critical voice that judges you for every little thing you put in your mouth.

5. Respect your fullness: learn to know how much is enough, and stop overeating for good.

6. Discover the satisfaction factor: enjoying your food means less is more!

7. Honour your feelings without using food: by learning how to cope with the ups and downs of life (whether through therapy or on your own) you won’t need food to fix your feelings.

8. Respect your body: it’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are overly critical about your body.

9. Exercise – Feel the difference: who knew focusing on the feeling of movement could be so gratifying?

10. Honour your health – Gentle nutrition: choose foods that please both your health and your tastebuds.

The Benefits of Intuitive Eating

There are many reasons you should embrace Intuitive Eating:

* It can help you lose weight slowly but permanently while eating the foods that you love

* It stops the destructive cycle of restriction, overeating and guilt that results from dieting

* It can help restore your self-esteem and self-confidence

* It teaches you to trust your body

* It helps you discover your love of movement

* It improves your health, including cholesterol and triglyceride levels

If this approach sounds like an appealing alternative to traditional weight loss methods (dieting, excessive exercise, or more invasive strategies like “magic” pills or surgery), then I encourage you to learn more about it.  It will truly revolutionize the way you think, eat and feel!