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What can you learn from attending an Intuitive Eating dinner?

Earlier this month I joined about 15 other individuals at an intuitive eating dinner at The Apartment restaurant in Edinburgh. We had a fantastic selection of breads and dips, followed by a buffet of dishes including fish, chicken and vegetable kebabs, roasted potatoes, and colourful salads. The hosts for the evening were the fabulous Danni from @Chachipowerproject and Tali from @talisyoga.

Intuitive eating takes a bit of time to get your head around and to put in to practice. There are now over 80 published studies that show the benefits of intuitive eating. What is great about it, is that it puts you in control of your own body and what you eat.

Intuitive eating is about encouraging a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, regardless of weight. It is not a diet. The focus is on healthy lifestyle behaviours rather than on weight. One of the principles of intuitive eating is unconditional permission to eat. However, this also goes along with paying attention to your internal hunger and satiety cues and how the food makes you feel.

Throughout the dinner, questions and topic areas were discussed, which led to some interesting points being raised. Individual’s views and personal experiences were shared whilst we ate and drank.

About half way through the meal, the talking was paused for 60 seconds whilst everyone put intuitive eating into practice and focussed on eating mindfully. Intuitive eating takes time to get accustomed to, so practicing for short periods of time can help you build up an awareness. Putting it into practice when you’re eating by focussing on your internal cues of hunger or feeling full, noticing what the food tastes like, the different flavours of the food and whether you actually like the tastes and textures of the food provided really interesting comments. Some people found by eating mindfully, even just for 60 seconds, made the food taste more flavoursome, some ate slower and chewed their food more, some tasted flavours they hadn’t notice initially, some realised they didn’t actually like the taste of some of the food on their plate and loved other parts of the meal. I’d recommend you try this the next time you eat a meal and see what you notice.

The evening was a great introduction to intuitive eating with lots of thought provoking discussions. Some of my take-a-ways were:

  • There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, but rather ‘someday’ and ‘everyday’ foods.

  • It is important to become more aware and listen to your internal cues (what your body is telling you). This can be quite difficult to do as there are so many external factors that can influence and drown out your internal messages.

  • When you are out for a meal, before you look at the menu, have a think about what you’d like to eat. This should help give your body a chance to help you choose the foods it is looking for.

  • Be mindful of the language you use when talking about food and weight. For example, referring to some foods as ‘treats’ or ‘guilt free’ suggests that these are good or bad foods. Weight can also be stigmatised through the language we used when talking about it.

There are lots of great online resources and books on intuitive eating and related topics. Unfortunately, as intuitive eating is beginning to gain interest from people, there is an increasing amount of 'lose weight for good’ type publications and articles that claim to be about intuitive eating. However, one of the key principles of intuitive eating is to get out of the diet mentality, so anything that has rules or restrictions on what you can and can't eat is not intuitive eating.

So, as with all nutrition information online, it is useful to consider the quality and credibility of the information. Some great, reliable books to check out are listed below:

Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole

Eat up! by Ruby Tandoh

Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon

What are you hungry for? By Deepak Chopra

Women Food and God by Geneen Roth

Overall, it was an interesting evening with great discussions on intuitive eating and a very tasty and satisfying meal. Look out for future events and blog posts from Danni ( too!

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