How To Eat Intuitively in the New Year

Jan 8, 2024

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Each year, millions of Americans make it a New Year’s resolution to change their bodies, movement habits, or the way they eat.

While many people want to make impactful changes that revolve around their bodies and health, the reasons behind many of these New Year’s resolutions come from a place of shame and guilt.

Instead of trying a resolution that comes from a place of fear or feeling like you have to change your appearance or size, why not try one that fosters acceptance and encourages you to listen to your body? We’re talking about intuitive eating.

Learning how to eat intuitively teaches you to listen to your body’s natural cues. This is something many of us naturally do, but others may not have done this for quite some time.

Being intentional about intuitive eating helps us connect better with our bodies and nourish them with a variety of foods we want and need.

Why Many New Year’s Resolutions Are Not Sustainable

While many people may be well-intentioned about improving themselves in the new year, society pushes us to feed into diet culture, where many of these resolutions are rooted.

A survey from Forbes Health/OnePoll found that in 2024, 48% want to improve their fitness, 32% want to improve their diet, and 34% want to lose weight for their New Year resolutions. 

Some research from U.S. News & World Report in 2015 found that by the second week of February, around 80% of people are not engaged in their New Year’s resolutions. More recent research has confirmed that after a month, roughly 64% have moved on from their resolutions.

It’s not just New Year’s diet plans and other resolutions, though — 95% of all diets fail. 

Many of these resolutions — whether made in the new year or any other time of the year — require strict behaviors that we don’t enjoy and are not sustainable with people’s day-to-day lives. They’re often rooted in a place of guilt, shame, and fear of existing as we are. Influenced by diet culture, they make us feel like we need to change how we look.

It’s 100% possible to mindfully incorporate movement and a variety of food we enjoy daily. However, engaging in restrictive eating behaviors, doing a New Year’s cleanse or diet, or pushing ourselves to do movement we genuinely don’t like is not something most of us can maintain long-term.

This leads many of us to feel even more guilty, shameful, and disappointed when these resolutions don’t’ stick long-term. Instead of engaging in restrictive or diet-culture-focused behaviors, it’s much easier to do things our bodies naturally want to do — like intuitive eating.

What Is Intuitive Eating?

If you want to have a happy and healthy new year in 2024 and beyond, practicing intuitive eating is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health.

As a whole, intuitive eating is a practice that encourages us to listen to our bodies and incorporate gentle nutrition practices to keep our bodies fueled. Instead of ignoring hunger cues, cutting out food groups, or engaging in movement we don’t enjoy, it encourages us to truly listen to what our bodies tell us they want and need.

How To Eat Intuitively

Intuitive eating is guided by 10 principles that outline how we can listen to our bodies and choose more mindful habits that nourish us — physically and mentally.

Here are the 10 intuitive eating principles, as outlined by IntuitiveEating.org.

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Move away from diet culture behaviors and the belief that you are better off engaging in them — and embrace the fact that you deserve food freedom, no matter what!

2.  Honor Your Hunger

Listen to your body’s cues — and honor them! Your body is biologically made to tell you what it needs, and those hunger cues can’t lie. This helps you build a trusting relationship with your body.

3. Make Peace with Food

Know that you don’t need to earn your food and deserve to eat whatever sounds good!

4. Challenge the Food Police

Diet culture wants us to believe that certain foods are “good” or “bad” — when, in reality, all foods are neutral. There’s no way for food to be morally “good” or “bad.”

Fight back against those ideals that you’re “good” or “bad” for eating a certain way, and embrace the foods you want to enjoy.

5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

We are often told by diet culture that if food tastes good, it’s something we shouldn’t enjoy — or only enjoy minimally. Drop that unhelpful belief and embrace that food can be delicious, enjoyable, and satisfying!

6. Feel Your Fullness

Tune into those hunger cues and honor your body’s fullness. If you feel hungry for more — regardless of how much you’ve had — trust your body that you can eat more to a comfortable fullness. Learn to look for those signs that you are full, and honor those, too!

7. Cope with Your Emotions With Kindness

Know that you’re not alone if food brings about a wide range of emotions — or if you’ve used food in some way or another to try and cope with uncomfortable emotions. Know it’s okay to feel those big feelings, and there are other, healthier ways to work through those feelings than depending on those food-related behaviors.

8. Respect Your Body

Society and diet culture often tell us that we have to look a certain way. Know that all bodies are good bodies, and you deserve to exist as you are!

9. Movement — Feel the Difference

Move your body as it feels good to do — not because you feel like you have to or should or to manipulate your body to look a certain way.

10. Honor Your Health — Gentle Nutrition

Eat foods that sound good and nourish your body. Remember that you deserve to eat a wide variety of foods that sound and taste enjoyable and give you the energy to move throughout your life!

Why Intuitive Eating Is the Best New Year’s Resolution

There are so many amazing reasons why intuitive eating is a truly sustainable New Year’s resolution.

  1. It’s how your body naturally wants you to eat. Your body’s hunger cues can’t lie — when it tells you it’s craving something or you feel those physical signs of hunger, you should absolutely listen to them! It’s how our bodies are designed to work.
  2. There’s no restriction — and your body functions better when you give it what it needs. Depriving your body of essential nutrients makes you low on energy, irritable, and can cause so many other health complications. Ignoring cravings only makes us want to eat those foods more and makes us mentally miserable, too. Our bodies do so much better when we listen to what they want and need!
  3. Humans have eaten intuitively for thousands of years, and our bodies are designed to be this way: From the time we’re born, our bodies are made to tell us exactly what we need — whether it’s more of a specific nutrient in the form of a craving, or that we’re thirsty as our mouth feels dry. Listening to your body is not a fad that’s hard to maintain over time — it’s exactly the opposite and gets easier and more natural the more you practice it!
  4. You deserve to exist exactly as you are. While society and diet culture may make us feel we need to fit into certain boxes, we all are worthy of existing exactly as we are. Our size, shape, or what we eat doesn’t change that!

 

Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to change your body or restrict yourself in some way, consider making the best commitment of all: Listening to your body and practicing intuitive eating!

Written by Krista Godfrey, MS, RD, LMNT

Citations

  1. Lloyd, Maddie. 2023. “2024 New Year’s Resolutions: Nearly Half Cite Fitness As Their Top Priority.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/new-year-resolutions-survey-2024/.
  2. Luciani, Joseph. 2015. “Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail.” US News Health. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail.
  3. Dickson, Joanne M., Nicholas J. Moberly, David Preece, Alyson Dodd, and Christopher D. Huntley. 2021. “Self-Regulatory Goal Motivational Processes in Sustained New Year Resolution Pursuit and Mental Wellbeing” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 6: 3084. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063084
  4. The Original Intuitive Eating Pros. 2019. “10 Principles of Intuitive Eating.” IntuitiveEating.org. https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/.

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