Careful and healthy weight loss without a diet - that is the goal of intuitive eating. But how do you learn to listen to your body again and to eat intuitively? We talked to Mareike Awe, the founder of "intueat".
Do you set strict meal times or do you follow your gut feeling?
Intuitive eating deals exactly with this question. Through healthy, natural eating habits, one should reach one's own feel-good weight much faster, without having to give up or diet.
How intuitive eating works and how you can really manage to eat intuitively is explained by doctor, coach and author of the guide "Feel Good Weight" Mareike Awe.
What does "eating intuitively" mean?
To get involved in the concept of Intuitive Eating, you should forget everything you have learned about diets and weight loss myths - and start from scratch, so to speak.
Intuitive eating is actually quite simple: "We came into the world as intuitive eaters, but unfortunately most of us have only forgotten how to eat", says doctor Mareike Awe.
She continues: "Babies automatically know naturally when they are hungry and when they are full. Adults have often forgotten to recognize real hunger signals due to external influences and habits".
Especially habits such as "you have to empty your plate", "it's 12:30 p.m. - are you coming for lunch?" or the routine of eating in front of the TV or out of frustration, lead to the fact that true hunger signals are not really perceived.
Eating intuitively means: only eat when you are hungry - and stop eating when you feel full. Without prohibitions, without renunciation.
Another recommended book tip on the subject of intuitive eating: "Your Body Navigator" by Uwe Knop.
Learning to eat intuitively through "mental training
Losing weight starts in the head! "Over 90 percent of our decisions are made in our subconscious," the nutritionist explains.
"In your head there are certain nerve tracts for each of your habits, which you can imagine as 'trampling paths'. Through mental training, old, obstructive habits are broken down and new, positive habits and new behaviour are learned. Bye, ravenous hunger pangs", Mareike Awe continues.
Meditation can be useful to start the day in a more positive and relaxed way, to let stress bounce off and automatically banish frustration and stress eating, to focus on body signals and to give space to intuitive eating in everyday life.
The goal of mental training: more zest for life, positive self-perception, healthy eating behaviour and a happy basic attitude. Because if you are satisfied with yourself and your life, you are no longer susceptible to frustration and stress eating.
Conscious eating and listening to body signals
The most important thing about eating intuitively: Listen to your gut. It's not so easy at first. Especially if you have lived for years with diets like low carb, Dukan diet, keto diet or similar.
Suddenly all food is allowed again. Try to say goodbye to old patterns and habits step by step and question your eating habits:
Listen to yourself, whether you eat out of hunger or out of habit. Are you already hungry at seven in the morning or is a later breakfast time actually more pleasant for you?
Does the candy bar have to be after lunch or is it a trained tick? Every time you eat something, you should question whether you are really hungry.
What am I eating now? Am I slowly enjoying my meal or am I wolfing it down? Learn to appreciate your food, avoid eating on the side, but enjoy your meal consciously.
Treat yourself to whatever you feel like doing. Is it cookies? Then have one. You're jonesing for something salty - then eat salt sticks or nuts. As long as you have questioned points 1 and 2 for yourself, these foods are perfectly fine.
The clou: without renouncing chocolate, chips or cake become boring very quickly.
It's all in your head: Bans make food really interesting. What is forbidden has always had a certain appeal - so put bans out of your mind.
In her "intueat" online program, Mareike Awe provides a so-called eating spectrum bracelet to help you.
"With the help of the bracelet, our participants learn to correctly assess their 'true' hunger at all times. The colours help to visualise where you are at the moment. Ideally, the participants should never be in the red zone.
The advantage of the bracelet: "People who are unsettled by diets and wrong rules find it difficult to interpret their body signals. The bracelet helps them to relearn what the 'real' feeling of hunger and satiety feels like," says the nutritionist.
The most important rules for intuitive eating
Hello, Hunger: Eat when you are physically hungry.
No prohibitions: Eat what you like and what's good for you. Treat yourself to the chocolate bar and eat it consciously and not out of frustration or stress.
Without a guilty conscience: Enjoy your food slowly and eat carefully.
Feel your fullness: Stop eating when you feel pleasantly full. The stomach must not hurt or become tense.
Self-love and mindfulness: Respect and accept your body. Be grateful that your body takes you everywhere. Take good care of it - you will need it all your life.
Stay healthy: Maintaining your health should be your primary goal and not the ideal image of where you want to trim your body.
Be active: Exercise keeps your body and mind vital and healthy.
Eating intuitively in everyday life
"In stressful moments it helps to listen to yourself and to ask yourself whether a snack or a mini-break with a little exercise is good for me to change my mindset.
You don't have to use a candy bar as a snack - nuts and fruit give you more and longer lasting energy.
"If we don't have snacks right in front of us, we actually don't reach for them that quickly. So we trick the head a little".
Through mental training, you can replace old "trampling paths" with new ones. "If, for example, you walk home after work with a podcast on your ears, you will gain some distance from your workday and arrive home more relaxed and don't reach for the fridge out of stress," says Mareike Awe.
Does the after-work beer relax you or does a round of yoga or a good book on the couch do the same? Question yourself.
Advantages of intuitive eating
Mareike Awe sees the following advantages in intuitive nutrition:
You are more relaxed with yourself and your eating behaviour
If you eat intuitively for a while, you free yourself from "bad" eating habits and go back to a healthy, balanced diet
In combination with mental training, one obtains a better quality of life, because the self-perception changes positively. One learns to accept one's own body and deals with small "flaws" in a more relaxed way
You learn to be mindful of your own body
Health benefits: As you are less in stressful situations, your body releases less cortisol - and that means less cravings. The cardiovascular system is also strengthened
Losing weight is almost incidental and is not the primary goal of intuitive eating. If you learn to eat intuitively again, you will recognize the signals that your body sends out. This means that you only provide the energy that you need and let your body work optimally.
You achieve your feel-good weight permanently and sustainably
Feel-good weight thanks to intuitive eating
"By feel-good weight, I don't mean Size Zero or XXS, but being slim in a healthy way and meeting your genetic ideal - and this ideal varies from person to person," emphasizes Mareike Awe. Not every physique is wiry and athletic.
Women have curves - and accepting these curves is what counts. "The body is programmed to be healthy and to have a natural weight that allows it to perform all functions optimally.
This includes a certain amount of body fat. Fat is particularly important for our hormone balance. However, excess fat is harmful and inhibits optimal body function," explains the nutritionist.
The inner attitude is crucial. Those who accept themselves will achieve their "feel-good weight" in the long run. Those who follow these three points for themselves will notice that the "feel-good weight" is coming closer and closer to the genetic ideal weight (BMI values):