How to Handle Gentle Nutrition without Restricting

The final step in intuitive eating and the 10th principle in the Intuitive Eating book by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole is gentle nutrition. This is the focus after you have gone through the previous steps of eating without judgment or restrictions, honoring your hunger, listening to your body, and learning your hunger and fullness cues.

How to Handle Gentle Nutrition without Restricting article cover image

How to Handle Gentle Nutrition without Restricting

Once you get to this step, it can feel like the hardest one of all, from a combination of fear overusing it to restrict your food, to know what to eat. Here are some tips for adding gentle nutrition into your life without limiting your food.

Make Your Peace with Food

For gentle nutrition, you are starting to make peace with food and keep it neutral. This means you are neutralizing all the food you eat, and no longer looking at it as bad, something to feel guilty about, or a craving you are avoiding. No food or ingredient is bad for you. If it is tasty and what you currently feel like eating, you can enjoy every bite without any shame or regret.

Gentle Nutrition is Different for Everyone

Keep in mind that gentle nutrition looks different for everyone, so try not to compare yourself to other people and what they are eating. Just because someone else is eating a salad for lunch, and you are eating a sandwich, means absolutely nothing. It is just-food. Your friend wanted a salad today, and maybe they will eat a big juicy steak or piece of pizza for dinner. It is all food, and it is up to you to decide what you want to eat, and what sounds good to you.

Have a Loose Structure Around Eating

Eating no longer has to be a certain amount, a type of food during certain times of the day, or follow any structure. While there are some exceptions, like having a scheduled lunch hour at work, the rest of the time, you don’t need to follow these arbitrary rules. Want cereal for dinner? Go for it! Does your Chinese chicken salad sound appetizing in the morning? Enjoy it! Try to take all those food rules out of the equation and focus on your body and what you believe is going to make you feel satisfied.

Focus on Balance and What Makes You Feel Good

Life is all about having a healthy balance, and the same goes for food when you want to focus on your nutrition. You will start learning what your body reacts to, from ingredients to eating at certain times of the day. Without rules, you are able to focus on how you feel. Maybe you prefer eating your sweets at night because sugar in the morning causes a crash of energy after a couple of hours. Or you might be someone who needs carbs for breakfast because you like your late morning workouts.

Work with your schedule, your tastes, and your body to figure out what nutrient balance is going to work best for YOU.

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Does Intuitive Eating Work?

Does Intuitive Eating Work? People are often under this misconception that intuitive eating is just perpetuating obesity and unhealthy lifestyles, and just causing people to eat nothing but Oreo cookies and McDonald’s. While it is true that many people eat foods they previously thought of as off-limits, they also eat a lot of nourishing food as well.

Why Intuitive Eating Works

Intuitive eating is not a free-for-all where you eat whatever you want, in whatever quantity, regardless of how it makes you feel. It is all about honoring your hunger, trusting your body, and eating to fuel and nourish your body.

Here are some ways that intuitive eating works and can help you be the healthiest you have ever been.

It Relieves Stress About Food and Diets

To start with, you can relieve a lot of stress and frustration in your life when you begin intuitive eating. Think about how much time you spend thinking about food, researching diets, trying to plan your life around healthy meals, and the stress that comes from fear of hunger, binge and restrict cycles and an obsession with how you look.

SO much of this is alleviated when you begin eating intuitively. All you have to do is follow your body’s cues, whether it means you are craving a juicy steak, or you are feeling like eating a big salad.

Does Intuitive Eating Work? stop obsessing about food with a sandwich

You Stop Obsessing About Food

You will also have a lot more free time when you aren’t thinking about food. Intuitive eating helps you stop obsessing about every single thing you consume. Food just becomes food. It becomes a way to fuel your body, to nourish it with nutrients, to feel satisfied and happy. When you get to this point, you start noticing when you are hungry and when you are full and can discover the foods you love.

You Avoid Binge Cycles

Binge Cycles are a big deal for chronic dieters, people with disordered eating and eating disorders, and anyone who feels out of control around food. If you fear food, are afraid of sugar and fat, and think carbs are coming for you, then intuitive eating is the best option for you. In the beginning, it can be scary, but if you follow through with it, you will start to notice when you stop binging and can just eat and not worry about it.

does intuitive eating work eat sign

You No Longer Have Intense Cravings

Feel like you will always crave chocolate chip cookies or salty snacks forever? First of all, there is nothing wrong with these foods. Second, you will notice that you don’t experience these intense cravings that seem to consume your mind. When you do have a desire, you will eat that thing to satisfy it, then move on. But you also understand when a craving is physical, or if it is an emotional pull from a history of restrictions. That is the beauty of intuitive eating.

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How You Can Eat Healthy at Any Restaurant

When you are busy traveling, regardless of the move of travel you choose, you will need to find something to eat that might not be the healthiest. This doesn’t mean you need to have a hotel room with a kitchenette or find a health food store nearby; you can make good choices at just about any restaurant imaginable. These tips will allow you to eat healthy at any restaurant you go to.

How You Can Eat Healthy at Any Restaurant

Research it Beforehand

You need to know where you’re going and what they offer before you head out on your travels. Start this process when you are still planning your trip so that you can create your rest stops based on the healthiest restaurants.

Even if you are already on your trip, you can usually pull up restaurant menus online, which at the very least show their menu options and what each item is made with. Many of them will also list the nutritional content, so you can choose the best option, whether you are low-carb, cutting your calories, or watching your sodium intake.

Go Straight to the ‘Eat Healthy’ Section of the Menu

Another thing a lot of restaurants have now is an ‘eat healthy’ or ‘lite’ section of the meu. Here they conveniently list all of their healthier options for you. Some of them even tell you the number of carbs, calories, fat, or Weight Watchers points.

For example, Denny’s has a light fit menu with various salads, main courses, and soups. Bennigans has a Health Club entrée selection while Applebees lists their Weight Watchers options.

eat healthy salad

Ask For What You Want

Don’t be afraid to let a restaurant know what you do or don’t want when they prepare your meal. Most of them are willing to leave off the mayonnaise, skip the cheese, serve fruit or veggies instead of French fries, or give you your salad dressing on the side.

If an item is made fried, ask to have it grilled instead. If an omelet typically comes with cheese and veggies, ask for no cheese or very light cheese, but with extra veggies in it.

Follow These Easy Healthy Eating Tips

There are also some general guidelines to follow when you are a restaurant and trying to figure out the healthiest option. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind:

  • Always order something that is grilled, whether it is chicken or fish
  • Go for the salmon if it is available
  • Skip the cheese, sauce, and dressing or ask for it on the side
  • Substitute hash browns or french fries for fruits or vegetables on the side
  • When in doubt, order a salad

With these simple tips, you should be able to eat healthy at any restaurant you come across.

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