SALT LAKE CITY — For Millcreek nutritionist Leah Kirschbaum, the individual is the expert.
Kirschbaum is a proponent of intuitive eating, an approach to food that eschews dieting trends in favor of personal knowledge.
“We get so much external pressure and information about nutrition that it gets really confusing,” Kirschbaum told Maria Shilaos on last week’s episode of Let’s Get Moving with Maria. “Intuitive eating helps the individual tune back into their own body, ultimately making them the best expert.”
First proposed by nutritionists Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, intuitive eating takes what Kirschbaum called “a human approach” to food and eating. It acknowledges the cultural and emotional baggage surrounding food and encourages practitioners to “neutralize” the foods they’ve deemed “good” or “bad,” “healthy” or “unhealthy.”
“Because food has become kind of this dogmatic thing in our culture, there’s so much emotion and feeling tied up with it,” Kirschbaum said. “And the idea behind neutralizing food is that not all foods are nutritionally equivalent, but they are morally equivalent.”
Kirschbaum encouraged Let’s Get Moving listeners to consider their own “food rules.” What foods have you labeled “bad,” she asked. Do you deny yourself food after a certain time, or force yourself to trade gym time for dessert? Are you looking at health holistically, or merely attempting to manipulate your body?
“When you’re just focused on your body, you’re ignoring a lot of other components of health,” Kirschbaum said. “We have so much information about nutrition, but a lot of it doesn’t include what it means to be a human and eat.”
Humans frequently eat for celebratory reasons, Kirschbaum noted, along with other social and emotional motivations.
“There’s memories and there’s nostalgia and there’s comfort, and it’s totally okay to eat for these reasons,” she said. “It’s part of being human.”
For people trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting or emotional eating, Kirschbaum said intuitive eating offers a happier alternative.
“There’s a way for [eating] to be moderate, a way for it to be mindful and a peaceful, normal experience.”
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