Intuitive Eating: Will I Feel Good After I Eat This?

Aug 9, 2018

The other day I plugged in my cell phone to recharge and felt a surprising rush of gratitude. What if this was how we gained energy, too?  Sitting for hours, tethered to an outlet? We’d probably twiddle our thumbs and hum 80’s billboard hits just to keep boredom at bay.

Unlike our cell phones when we are feeling tapped out, we have a much more interesting way of refueling. Food. In all its flavors and combinations. Not only do we have veritable feasts at our disposal every day, we get to determine how our energy will taste. Savory, sweet, salty, sour. And lots of other cravings that don’t start with an “s.”  While our devices lay on a countertop corded to their power sources, we open a refrigerator to survey the possibilities.

This is an important moment in the pursuit of authentic health. According to Elyse Resch and fellow nutritionist Evelyn Tribole, who co-authored the book “Intuitive Eating,”  they have summarized the intuitive eating approach in terms that echo the mantra, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  Based on research and experience as nutrition counselors Resch and Tribole advise, “enjoy eating food, not too much and not too little, mostly what satisfies you.” Many of us become mired in the perceived “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of eating instead of celebrating the opportunity to re-energize with food that enjoyable. 

Among other principles to rely on fullness cues and honor your health with gentle nutrition, the hub of “Intuitive Eating” is discovering the satisfaction factor. Resch and Tribole write ”when you eat what you really want in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. If you feel truly satisfied with your eating experience you will find that you will eat far less food. Conversely, if you are unsatisfied you will likely eat more and be on the prowl regardless of your hunger level. 

Returning to that open refrigerator where we stand ready for an energy boost, healthy questions could include “What do I feel like eating?”  “Do I want something sweet or salty, hot or cold, crunchy or smooth?” “How will my stomach feel when I am finished eating?” “Will a dense food make me uncomfortably full?  Or an airy feel leaving me feeling empty?”

While our technology devices charge in stale silence we have the freedom to move beyond the utilitarian for foods that power along with flavors that please.  In the long run, this advantage may prove useful. When artificially intelligent robots take over the world we can offer a portion of pity. Seri and Google never savored a single bit of cheesecake.

This is Jen Ashton for Bread and Butter.