***disclaimer: the info in the post does not replace the advice given to you from your physician or medical professional. meal plans are essential in certain conditions and by no means as I advocating to discontinue your plan if you are on a specific therapeutic diet. this info is meant to be intended for those wishing to lose weight by going on a traditional diet and calorie-specific meal plan.
Today I want to talk about following a meal plan on a diet vs. eating intuitively in regards to hunger.
With following a meal plan, you are essentially told what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. This pattern of dieting aims to dissociate the feelings of hunger with the actual act of eating, instead telling you that you can only become “healthy” if you eat certain things at certain times of the day. By choosing to diet by following a meal plan, you are essentially telling your body that you don’t trust it to do it’s job and reach the weight that your body wants to be at. How freaking rude.
With Intuitive Eating, the goal is to cultivate a more positive relationship with food and your body and learn to trust that your body will settle at a size that is appropriate for you. You don’t have any type of meal plan – you simply eat what you’re craving, when you are craving it, and stop when you are no longer craving it. One of the goals of intuitive eating is to become more in tune with your body and learn to trust that it will tell you what it wants/needs. With this way of eating, your body is able to reach a weight that is healthy for you – NOT what your trainer or coach or favorite internet celeb thinks you should be at.
As a society in general, we often think that the answer to health is following prescribed meal plans that others have used to lose weight. Sure that may have worked out for someone else temporarily, but do you really want to live the rest of your life that way? Is that really going to be sustainable up until you’re old and gray and have to tell the chef in the nursing home – “Oh no I can’t eat that, here’s my meal plan make sure it has no butter cooked in 1 Tablespoon of organic coconut oil and don’t boil the greens please they may lose some nutrients.”
That may seem somewhat extreme, but opting to follow a standard meal plan over spending time to learn how to trust your body will not do you much good in the long-term.
With intuitive eating, the focus is shifted away from listening to external cues (meal plans, diet culture, societal rules and expectations around food). Instead, relying on your internal cues (hunger, cravings, and fullness) provide the guide for what, when, and how much you eat. The idea of intuitive eating is that your body knows what it wants and by honoring that and giving it what it’s asking for, you can reach your healthiest and happiest self. It’s about learning to make peace with food and your body.
Bodies are a lot smarter than we typically give them credit for. I’m in training to become a Registered Dietitian but even with those credentials, I could never possibly know the exact time you’re going to feel hungry or whether a certain meal will make you feel satisfied and full. These are things that only we can know about ourselves because they change all. the. time. Knowing that your body will feel hunger at different times of the day and in different intensities is the first step in learning to trust that it will tell you exactly what it needs.
What have been your experiences with both following a meal plan for weight loss vs. learning to eat intuitively? Which style of eating left you feeling the happiest and most fulfilled? Leave me some messages with your thoughts!