Counting macros and tracking calories may be great ways to maintain control over your diet when you're trying to lose weight, but the downside is they're unsustainable over the long run and can easily lead to unhealthily obsessive habits. Eating healthy doesn't have to be a numbers game though. If you're trying to lose weight as part of a long-term lifestyle change, intuitive eating might be your answer.
According to nutritionist Laura Tilt, intuitive eating is "a way of eating that encourages you to tune into your body's hunger and satiety cues to help you determine when, how much, and what to eat rather than following external rules like diets, or lists of good and bad foods." It's essentially eating what you like, but being aware of your mind and body signals, not just your taste buds. She explains, "By really tuning in whilst eating, we can become better at identifying the move from hunger to satiety — and then fullness. Stopping when we're satisfied rather than full is a skill, but one that's worth experimenting with in terms of reaching a healthy weight."
Losing weight through eating intuitively isn't an easy fix, and weight loss through the process is the result of relearning how to follow your body's lead. Laura says, "Intuitive eating is not a 'quick fix' but more of an ongoing learning process that allows you to develop skills to reconnect with your body's natural navigation when it comes to food choice and regulating body weight."
It may sound easy in theory, but allowing yourself the freedom to let go of restrictive habits can lead to weight gain. If this occurs, Laura recommends keeping track of your eating habits with a "food and hunger or emotion diary to help you identify times when you may be using food to comfort or distract yourself."
She emphasises the importance of making this a long-term change and how this is as much a mental process as it is a physical one. If you try intuitive eating, Laura advises you give it "time, patience, and a lot of kindness shown towards yourself as you learn about your own patterns around why and how you eat — and the type of foods you choose."
Unlike restrictive diets, the benefits have long-term positive effects that outweigh any short-term inconveniences. Laura points out, "If we really tune in to when, why, and how we eat, we can reconnect with our body's natural regulatory systems — when we do, we'll find that eating cake for every meal isn't satisfying or even enjoyable, and that over time, we can release the 'all or nothing' mentality around food."