Mindful vs Intuitive Eating: What is the difference

Our lifestyle and food habits determine a lot of things. As in chess, in life, every wrong move can be a catastrophic one and have detrimental effects if not taken a good measure. Life can be exceptionally beautiful and joyous when you have ample amounts of health and wealth. But to achieve them both, one has to work over a lot of things; food habits and lifestyle being the first and foremost.

From our sleeping schedule to our sitting posture to the values and ethics we believe in, everything combines to define our lifestyle. And talking of food habits, while it may seem to us that the meaning of ‘food habit’ would just be eating healthy food, in reality, the true meaning of ‘food habits’ serves the purpose of how, when, where, and what we eat.

When it is regarding our food choices, we do not care to give one thought about it. But the food habits we inculcate affect us in ways we can’t imagine. Unhealthy food habits can increase the risk of different medical conditions. Let us just consider a hypothetical situation where we are only consuming healthier food options. Who wouldn’t want a healthy body?  Being healthy keeps our mental, physical, and social health at optimum levels. Eating a healthy diet can be one of the ways where you put in the least effort, and the results are obvious and satisfactory.

With that being said, now let’s take a look at different types of eating habits.

There are two types of eating habits, namely -Mindful eating and Intuitive eating.

Mindful vs Intuitive Eating

What is mindful eating?

Who doesn’t like being carefree and love enjoying moments? Well, most of us do. Being more than just an essentiality, food does hold a special place in our hearts. We all have that one favorite dish we just crave and never miss an opportunity to stuff it even when we are full whether it be a sweet dish, dessert, or some spicy fast food.

The love for food, the love for experiencing the taste, and the art of enjoying the taste sum up to define what mindful eating means. In other words, we can say that mindful eating is an approach where one’s complete focus is on the food and the experience of the food. Therefore, we may conclude that mindful eating is developing a love for our food.

In order to have a mindful meal, one must –

  1. Have an appetite  – Having an appropriate appetite not just increases our desire but also enhances the taste of food.
  2. Appreciate the food – Appreciate what’s there on the table. Take a moment to enjoy it through your senses. Look at it, smell it.
  3. Begin slowly – Start slowly by taking small portions.
  4. Take small bites – Tasting becomes a lot easier when our mouth isn’t full.
  5. Chew thoroughly – Chew well until you feel the essence of the food.
  6. Eat patiently – Don’t launch an attack on your food like a hungry Shark; instead, take time and enjoy your meal like a Goldfish.  

Mindful eating isn’t only limited to the love of food but also has some benefits to it. Among the plethora of benefits conferred by mindful eating, let us discuss the most popular benefits. It lowers our stress levels. We all know mindful eating is about relaxing and enjoying our meals more comfortably. So when we are at ease enjoying the experience of eating, our stress levels automatically go down.

It helps us to make better food choices. “Rest brings out the best.” As the famous proverb suggests, people make better decisions when they are comfortable. It helps in improving digestion. Chewing slowly gives the salivary amylase more time to act on our food, and the more time we spend chewing, the more components of food start to break down in our buccal cavity. Thus, improving our digestion.

It helps us to relax our minds and body. The experience of eating is said to be far more joyous when the ambiance is soothing. Nothing relaxes the body like having a mindful meal and listening to your favorite music. It zeros out the need for dieting. Mindful eating focuses mainly on minimizing distractions when eating; it also adds to the physical fitness of our body.

What is intuitive eating?

Let’s now take a brief look at intuitive eating. Following your heart, trusting your body to eat stuff with full hunger to the extent where you are fully stuffed without being worried about your body image and eating disorders defines what intuitive eating means. In other words, intuitive eating means going against traditional dieting plans that restrict us from eating things by labeling them as good and bad.

Intuitive eating stops us from looking at food as good or bad food; it rather suggests we go for whatever we feel is right for our body. Hence, we might conclude that the principle of intuitive eating revolves somewhere around forgetting the guilt we experience while eating and being conscious about our body shape and size.  

Now, the proper way to practice intuitive eating is –

  1. Developing an anti-diet mentality – Being aware of meals and how it is going to affect our body would never allow us to eat peacefully. Therefore, in order to practice, we must develop an anti-diet mindset.
  2. Respect your hunger – Never try to suppress it. Constantly suppressing hunger may lead to decreased appetite or different sorts of eating disorders.
  3. Respect your food – Respect what’s on your table and enjoy it to the best.
  4. Deal with your emotions – Some people experience unusual emotions while eating. Seeking help from a therapist in such cases may help.
  5. Have self-respect – Respect your body the way it is, adore it, and love yourself for who and the way you are. Don’t compromise on your meals for a false set of standards set by society.

We are not randomly picking a side and convincing you why one way of eating is better than the other. Now that we know what intuitive eating means and how it is to be practiced, let’s take a look at what its advantages are. It helps us to feel freer about ourselves. When we get into intuitive eating, we stop focusing on how the world portrays us. Instead, we start feeling confident about ourselves the way we are.

It helps us connect more to our bodies. To connect more with our internal self. Through surveys and scientific research, intuitive eating has been linked to lower BMI (Body Mass Index). It has also been observed people who practice intuitive eating are more likely to have a great weight maintenance record.

Intuitive eating has its own mental and physical benefits, but it also has some downsides, like it can take time to tune into your body and get the balance right. Sensing whether you are full or hungry requires tuning into your body’s signals; this can be very difficult for some people. With that being said, let’s now see how intuitive eating and mindful eating stand out from each other on a scale.

Whereas intuitive eating is a framework that goes outside the eating experience to encourage people not to oblige with external diet messaging, mindful eating is all about being present in the eating experience in a non-judgmental way.

Mindful vs Intuitive Eating

The three main points that differentiate intuitive eating from mindful eating are

  1. The main principle behind intuitive eating is to reject diet culture, whereas the main objective of mindful eating is to savor the meal.
  2.  While intuitive eating relies on honoring food, mindful eating relies on experiencing food with the five senses.
  3. Intuitive eating supports body positivity, whereas mindful eating, on the other hand, suggests one chew their food thoroughly and eat slowly.

To sum it all up

Are you the one that doesn’t worry about what food choices will make you fatter? Or maybe you just don’t skip a meal just because you are afraid of gaining an extra pound? Intuitive eating and mindful eating both hold their own specific values with different pros and cons. Though one may say that both ways of eating have deep and different insights into our mental health.  Hence, we conclude by letting you decide which type of diet plan you choose to try now: Intuitive eating or mindful eating?

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