Updated: Mar 8
Intuitive eating is the concept of choosing what to eat based on the natural cues provided to you by your body. This means that you don't make any dietary decisions based on calories, fat or any other measurements and you choose what to eat intuitively by trusting that your body knows what it needs at any given time.
There are some potential issues with this approach though. When you aren’t in a state of optimal health, the cues from the body will be coming from a place of dysfunction. High blood sugar levels, an imbalanced microbiome, chronic inflammation, poor sleep that affects hunger signaling, dysregulation of reproductive and stress hormones. All of these things will mean that the cues that your body is sending you, maybe aren't the best and you may be making poor dietary choices if you’re listening to them.
Inflammation, insulin resistance, increased cortisol and so on, are evolutionally mechanisms that are extremely sophisticated and we would essentially die within a few days if they didn’t exist. The issue is actually the rapid change in dietary and lifestyle factors over the past 50 to 100 years, that are a complete mismatch with the way our bodies have functioned for thousands of years previously.
Acute inflammation is essential when there’s an invading pathogen or something that needs to be dealt with quickly within the body. There should be a strong inflammatory response which is naturally resolved fairly quickly. Chronic low-grade inflammation due to a pro-inflammatory diet and lifestyle isn’t as extreme, but it’s chronic and it’s the type of inflammation that leads to disease.
The chronic low-grade inflammation that comes from eating a western diet and living a westernised lifestyle, results in a disconnection in the brains signaling and actually leads to us making worse choices. When you’re disconnected from the pre frontal cortex and dialled into the amygdala due to chronic inflammation, you will be making poorer food choices and worse lifestyle choices overall.
The pre frontal cortex is the part of the brain that helps us to decide right from wrong, good from bad, helps us to react calmly and rationally, and experience empathy and it should be leading from the top down and helping us make most of our decisions for us. When there's chronic inflammation present (as there is in those with obesity, diabetes, autoimmunity and many of our modern health problems), our amygdala starts to take over and make our decisions for us.
The amygdala is the primitive part of the brain that’s more reactive, aggressive and fearful, more impulsive and makes decisions without consideration for the consequences.
There's many other factors that are influencing your choices without you necessarily knowing it. When there's gastrointestinal dysbiosis and an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, those bacteria have a metabolism of their own and are craving the things that provide their fuel. That includes things like sugar and simple carbohydrates, and these then these become your cravings.
With all of these factors and more influencing the types of foods you eat and the lifestyle habits you’re engaging in, do you think you’re likely to be making good intuitive choices?? Or making the choice to get up early to exercise and make sure you’ve made yourself a healthy lunch, drank lots of water instead of coffee, and so on?
Not likely! You’ll be in self preservation mode, making food choices to quell any immediate cravings and give yourself a quick boost of energy without too much thought for the consequences. Then you'll feeling guilty after the fact, wondering why you keep doing this to yourself when you know it's not making you feel good? Why don’t you just have more will power??!!
It’s not really your fault! It’s your hormonal imbalances, lack of quality sleep, chronic inflammation, blood sugar irregularities and insulin resistance and brain signaling. All of these processes that should be functioning properly and efficiently, aren’t because of all the dietary and lifestyle factors that are synonymous with our western lifestyle.
That’s what needs to be changed.
Not your motivation.
Not your will power.
You don’t need a better meal plan or a new oil that promises to motivate you.
You need to address the CAUSES of your health concerns, which will automatically lead to you making better choices and eventually lead to you being able to eat intuitively and maintain an optimal level of health with minimal effort.
Your brain and it’s decision-making ability is extremely compromised by chronic disease and chronic inflammation and it doesn’t stop at the food choices you make. It compromises your mood and influences anxiety levels, depression and overall level of life satisfaction.
So is intuitive eating the way to go? Absolutely! But you need to address your HEALTH first, not just your weight, so that the signals that your body is giving you are the right ones for you and your needs.
If you’re having problems maintaining a healthy weight or making healthy food choices, think about whether you have any underlying chronic health conditions that may be influencing the choices you’re making.
If there’s anything you would like help working or if you have any questions, please reply to this email or click here to book your appointment and address the causes of your health concerns. Maybe it’s not a lack of will power after all!