A combination of mindful and intuitive eating works wonders for your physical and emotional self. Mindful eating vs. intuitive eating: what is the difference? Let’s find out.
The word ‘mindful’ is being thrown around a lot on healthy living blogs these days. However, many people confuse it with ‘intuitive,’ especially in diet culture. Well, they might be near-synonyms, but mindful and intuitive aren’t the same when it comes to eating.
The good thing is that both mindful eating and intuitive eating focus on improving your body, mind, and emotions. Awareness and intuitive eating have indeed helped people become their best versions – turned them more positive, less bitter, and entirely happy with their bodies.
However, it is essential to learn the difference between the two and find ways to work together to bring out the best in you! So, go ahead and read on to understand the difference between the two.
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What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating originated as part of mindfulness. Mindfulness talks about focusing emotions and thoughts on the present moment so that you can keep your mind away from every other distraction, and centered only on the present moment. Mindful eating follows the same principle to enrich the eating experience for the person.
Eating mindfully means that you are aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to the food you are eating. In other words, mindful eating pays attention to our bodies’ senses, ideas, and emotions when we eat a meal.
When we are entirely present with the food we eat, we enjoy it and feel grateful as we have it. The feeling of gratitude makes the food more nourishing to the body and satisfying to the soul.
Mindful eating also increases our interconnectedness and allows us to choose the food we wish to eat with wisdom and awareness. The aware eating model is thus, guided by four aspects:
- What to eat,
- Why we eat what we eat,
- How much to eat, and
- How to eat.
How To Practice Mindful Eating?
The first thing to understand is that mindful eating is not a diet program. It is simply harnessing the present moment to become aware of yourself before, during, and after eating your meal. One can indulge in various practices or ways to become aware of themselves while eating. However, the following principles build the core of mindful eating and thus, should be read over once.
Honor the food
Appreciate and acknowledge the food and where it has been grown or comes from. Deepen this practice and eat without distractions, thanking the food and the entire eating experience.
Take small bites and use a plate no larger than 9 inches to avoid overeating. Always eat a little less than your stomach requires, and it will thank you later.
Use all your senses
Smell the food before tasting, take in the aroma, notice the color and texture of the food, etc., to engage all your feelings before and during eating it.
Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. When you eat slowly, you will avoid overeating and naturally stop when your stomach is 80% full.
Eat plant-based or vegetarian diet
Processed meat or packaged food brings your vibration down and, thus, isn’t recommended. Even dairy products aren’t recommended since they negatively affect the entire planet, and therefore, you must consider going plant-based to enjoy the food.
Try not to skip your meals
When you go for long hours without eating, you end up overeating. Thus, it is essential to take your meals simultaneously every day.
Gratitude is the best way to feel healthy and happy as you eat your meal. Be glad that you get to have food every day of your life. Gratitude can enrich your mindful eating experience and thus, make you healthier and happier with each meal.
When you eat, keep all your attention on food. Thus, it is essential to switch off your devices like TV, cell phone, laptop, etc.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully has many benefits, and we have jotted down a few of them below for your benefit:
- Increased awareness of how you feel after having the food
- Understanding of which food do you enjoy the most
- Increased appreciation towards your meals
- Increased gratitude towards the food
- Avoidance of overeating
- The good mood throughout the day
- Reduction or complete disappearance of anxiety and stress
- Increased enjoyment of food and life
- Decreased feeling of shame or guilt around eating food
- Nutritious food leads to a happy and robust body, and thus, you attract better things and experiences in life
Mindful Eating: What is the Scientific Evidence to Support its Benefits?
Mindful eating isn’t just a suggestion or advice to improve your eating habits. It is an evidence-based study that has shown dramatic improvement in the physical and emotional being of people who choose to live a quality life.
According to this study, published in the journal Eating Behaviours, people who received mindfulness training successfully reduced binge-eating and emotional eating behaviors. Some other studies and research revealed that mindful eating contributed to weight loss and better management of conditions like type 2 diabetes.
The studies on the same are many, and you can research about them yourself in case you need more convincing.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating has similar effects as mindful eating, but it has a different approach. The primary purpose of intuitive eating is to remove or disrupt the damaging self-beliefs related to food and body image.
Intuitive eating was developed in 1990 by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, both of whom were dieticians. Since then, it has helped many people break free from an unhealthy obsession with food and body image.
Thus, intuitive eating is a more focused approach than mindful eating. It can be said that intuitive eating is inclusive of mindful eating, only it incorporates using one’s instinct and emotions to identify and eat food that they genuinely enjoy or feel satisfied it, going past the fear and judgment related to it.
Intuitive thinking also promotes eating when hungry physically, not emotionally. People are thus, trained to follow specific rules that help them learn to notice and identify sensations of hunger and satisfaction in the body. It is all about free-eating, but when your physical body asks for it.
How To Practice Intuitive Eating?
The developers of this diet describe ten main principles, and we have discussed them all below for your understanding.
Mental rejection of the diet
The basic idea behind this is that the ‘diet idea’ makes people believe that formula will work for them. Intuitive eating rejects the diet idea entirely and thus, is more like an anti-diet.
Honor your hunger
Feed your body when it feels hungry. Do not make hunger your enemy. Love your body enough to honor your needs, in this case, hunger. If you skip your meals for hours, there is a possibility that you will end up eating more than usual. Thus, east when your physical body is hungry.
Make peace with food
Get rid of the beliefs and ideas about what and what not you should eat. Make peace with your food and eat it with gratitude.
Challenge your thoughts
No food is good or bad for you. At this point, you will have to challenge your thoughts related to food and the ideas you attach to it. Food is not good or bad; your ideas attached to it are.
Respect your fullness
Your body tells you that it is hungry. In the same way, it also means that it is complete – respect that and do not overeat. Be aware of the sensations and feelings you get when your stomach is full and check with your body whether you are eating if you are hungry or just the food tasting so good.
Make your eating experience enjoyable
Discover the food that you genuinely enjoy. Now, sit and have the meal without any judgment or shame. When you transform eating into a pleasurable experience, it will take less to satisfy you, and you will naturally eat less than before.
Honor your feelings without emotional eating
We all know that emotional eating is where people cope with their feelings with food, avoiding facing themselves. This might not be easy initially, but you can quickly get past it and honor your feelings without using food once controlled and released.
Deal with your emotions by finding and learning about other healthy methods, like journaling, meditating, walking in nature, working out, practicing yoga.
This is when you should also become aware of your feelings and emotions and how you should deal with them without bringing in the food.
Learn to respect the body
It is about time that we all respect our bodies the way we are while bettering them. Recognize your body’s ability to work 24/7 to keep you happy and safe all the time. Let’s stop shaming and criticizing our bodies for all that it isn’t and love them for all that it is.
Move your body
To keep your body happy and healthy, only intuitive or mindful eating alone wouldn’t work, and even if they do, it is essential to keep it moving to keep your energy flowing. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout; you can walk in the park, practice yoga asanas, and feel the energy alive and flowing.
Honor your overall health
The whole point is that the food you eat must make you feel good and happy, and it should taste good, and this is all that matters. However, say no to processed meat and junk food and say hello to nourishing meals.
Benefits of intuitive eating
Several studies have shown several benefits of intuitive eating, and we have shared a few of them below for your motivation.
- Increased satisfaction in life
- Increased self-love and respect towards one’s body
- Decreased emotional eating
- Improved self-image
- Diminished guilt and shame towards one’s body
- Reduced rate of unhealthy eating
- Overall betterment in one’s health
- Improved mood and more
Intuitive Eating: Scientific Evidence of its Benefits
This study revealed that the benefits of intuitive eating are linked to healthier psychological attitudes, lower BMI, and weight maintenance. Many studies also observed that many people are likely to stick with this program and show a lot of positive behavioral changes.
In this study, it was noticed that women show more minor signs of disordered eating behaviors after following intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating has thus, emerged as an invention to improve body images and healthier attitudes.
How to make them work together?
Mindful eating and intuitive eating aren’t mutually exclusive, but both influence the brain’s mental activity to improve one’s meals. Mindful eating is all about bringing awareness to the food you eat and lessening the distractions surrounding it, while intuitive eating is all about reconnecting with your body by rooting up deep-seated negative beliefs about oneself. It is a way to rectify your relationship with your food and, thus, body.
So, you have to choose which eating pattern will suit you. However, you can make them work together for you by learning to love yourself and eating your food without judgments and fear, and with full awareness and gratitude.
We want to remind you again that mindful eating and intuitive eating are both different from each other, and you must choose the way you think will work the best for you.
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Mindful eating and intuitive eating use a non-judgemental and straightforward approach to better your eating habits. They help you heal your body by improving your relationship with food. You do not have to make a grand diet plan to follow either.
Many people feel a difference in their body and mood after following mindful eating as well as intuitive eating within a week, So, do not wait any longer and say goodbye to multi-tasking while eating or watching TV while having your meals and follow what these eating styles have in store for you.
We cannot promise that it will help you lose weight, but it will bring you closer to yourself and help you learn more about your body.
We hope the above article was able to clarify the difference between these two approaches to connecting your food, with your mind and body and to enhance your self image while taking your food. Feel free to drop us your comments and suggestions to make this article more worthwhile and informative, and if you liked what is already here, please share it with others looking for information on these two approaches of eating.