One of the easiest ways to improve your relationship with food and begin to let go of old food “rules” is to practice intuitive eating. Intuitive eating can also help you enhance your awareness of how the way you are fuelling your body is effecting the way you look and more importantly the way you feel. If you are looking to eat better and feel better in your body this article is for you.
What is intuitive eating anyway?
Intuitive eating is an approach to food and health that has nothing to do with diets, meal plans, discipline or willpower. It teaches you how to get IN TUNE with your body cues like hunger, fullness and satisfaction. You learn to trust your body around all foods again. This help you break the cycle of chronic dieting and heal your relationship with food. It is a framework that helps you keep nutrition intervention behaviour focused instead of restrictive or rule-focused.
Intuitive eating is about re-learning to eat outside of the diet culture mentality and focusing on internal cues instead of external.
To get started I wanted to share this article to help make it easier for you to begin your intuitive eating journey today.
10 Ways to Begin Intuitive Eating Today
1. Listen and Tune Into Your Body and The Cues It Sends You.
Not listening to your body isn’t will-power, it is just suffering for no reason. Eating to fill a void doesn’t actually heal or nourish the area of your body that needs to be fulfilled. If you are thirsty you drink, if you are hungry the same thing should apply.
Begin to honour your body. To tune into what it is communicating to you, you need to listen and sometimes that means being present not on auto-pilot. It won’t be intuitive or easy in the beginning but with consistent practice it becomes easier over time, so if you are just trying this out be compassionate with yourself on your journey.
If you are tired, rest. If you are thirsty, drink. If you are sad, process why. If you are hungry, eat foods that make you feel your best. If you not sure begin to notice how you feel after you eat certain foods. Do you have energy? or do you need a nap? Are you satisfied or bloated?
It can be that simple, I know it’s not always easy. I suffered from food rules and restrictions for fear of gaining weight for a long period of my life so I feel you. I understand your pain, but I am here to say there is a better way and it begins with listening to what your mind, body and soul ACTUALLY needs.
Sometimes when you are tired it can cause cravings for high fat/sugary processed foods, so prioritize getting enough sleep.
Often when you are sad it can trigger emotional eating, so prioritize feeling your feelings and honouring what you body needs that doesn’t involve food. Emotional eating never solves the problem, it is like putting a band-aid on the void. If you are struggling to get to the root of the issue reach out and work with a coach, therapist, or whoever you feel called to. Know you don’t have to do this alone.
2. Mindfully Check In Before Eating. Notice Hunger Awareness.
Every time you go to put something in your mouth pause and do a quick check in. Think about your hunger scale from 1-10 (1 being not hungry at all and 10 being starving like totally hangry). Where do you sit on the scale? Allow that to help you decide if it’s a great time to eat.
When you check in before eating to see if you are actually hungry, and you are, eat. While eating check in with signs of satiation.
If you are hitting up the fridge because you are bored and you realize you are not even hungry – turn around and find something else to do. If you are eating to fill any other void, name it or sit with it and nourish your body with something that you actually need that is not food. Journaling can be a fantastic tool to notice pattens or behaviours with eating, mindset, feelings and emotions.
3. Begin to Notice Fullness or Satiation Awareness.
Just like it’s important to check in with if you are hungry or not it’s also just as important to check into being full or satisfied. try not to eat past the point of satiation. Slow down and stay present during meals helps to avoid overeating. You can use the same scale as above to check in 1 being not full and 10 being overstuffed. Aim for a 6/7 feeling comfortably full and satisfied (no longer hungry.
4. Eat with All Your Senses.
It increases the satisfaction factor.
Practice slowing down and eating with all your senses.
Smell your food, notice the colours and aroma’s, really taste your food and savour each bite mindfully. It might not always be practical to do this exercise but the more you can practice it, the easier and more joy-filled meal time becomes.
If it feels good or speaks to you take a moment of gratitude before each meal.
5. Mindfully Eat Your Food.
Avoid rushing through meals or mindless eating. In our fast paced society it’s easy to eat while distracted, eat while working or mindlessly through the kids leftovers in your mouth without realizing it. You are not a human compost.
This post is to raise awareness to your habits and notice if you like them or want to adapt them or add in something new.
Avoid distractions while eating. Avoid working while eating. Pause, slow down and chew longer than you normally would to fully allow your brain to acknowledge that you are eating. By chewing longer you making it easier to digest and absorb your food.
6. Enjoy All Types of Food.
Nutrients are important but so are social gatherings and being able to live your life. The trick is to notice how foods make you feel, if you eat something and it leaves you feeling unwell, tired, or bloated learn from it and don’t have that food because it doesn’t make you feel your best. If there is something that you enjoy and it sits well but isn’t on your typical “meal plan” something enjoy as a treat or in moderation. The trick is to enjoy it, and then move on. Food is not good or bad so we need to remove those labels and remove emotions like shame and guilt associated with eating.
Let fuelling your body be delicious, fun and leave you feeling your best. Focus on how you feel, and have an awareness of how you want to feel. Make you decisions from that place of self-love and respect. Here are a few examples:
Instead of: I can’t have that
Try: I am choosing not to eat that because the last time I had it I felt awful and I want to feel good.
Instead of: I can’t have carbs
Try: Carbs are not bad our bodies need them, I am eating carbs that make my body feel good.
It might take trial and error to find what foods make you feel your best. I have worked with clients that avoided carbs at all costs only to want to overindulge in chips or high fat processed foods afterwards. By adding in sweet potatoes and rice the cravings went away and she felt fantastic. It can take a bit of what I like to call “reprogramming” to create a new system that shows you that you can eat all foods and not gain weight and still feel great with the right intentions.
7. Focus on Wellness Not Looks & Let Go Of The Scale Obsession.
I hear thousands of women who restrict their calories, lose weight but don’t even enjoy the weight loss because all they can think about is food, and not eating. That is not how life is suppose to be. On the other end of the spectrum it doesn’t feel good to overeat, carry a lot of excess weight or to feel sluggish with no energy. Life is not meant to be lived that way either. The key is to focus on what makes you feel your best, what makes you feel your healthiest? Focus on that.
Positive self-talk, movement that you enjoy, fresh whole foods most of the time, adequate sleep and hydration. Allow yourself to focus on the things that light you up, not the number on the scale.
8. Be On The Same Team As Your Body.
Your body and soul love you so much and wants you to be well. Take care of your body it’s the only one you have and it deserves to be loved unconditionally.
How are you working against your body right now?
How can you begin to work with you body today?
What “diet culture rules” do you need to break or rewrite?
What is your current ideal body standard? Is it realistic? is it healthy for your body?
9. Avoid Skipping Meals.
A common mistake that people make is skipping breakfast or meals to “save calories”. In my experience as a health coach and nutritionist this can lead to overeating in the evening. By planning ahead you can ensure you always have healthy snacks or meals on hand so that you can regularly eat when you are hungry throughout the day.
Focus on nourishing not calories.
10. Let Yourself Live & Make Peace with Food.
This is not about letting yourself go, it’s about letting yourself live fully. It’s all about making empowered choices when it comes to food.
Focus on the foods you love and enjoy that make you feel your best. Avoid focusing on foods you “can’t have”. Get rid of the ideas that you can and can’t have certain foods (unless it’s an allergy or food you really dislike) all foods can be enjoyed when you work with your body.
Begin to look at the food rules you have placed on yourself and ask why you created that rule?
Did you pick it up from someone else? Family member?
Is it an old diet culture myth?
Why are you believing you can’t have it? What is the worst that can happen if you have it?
Are you avoiding foods you love because you are fearful of gaining weight?
Do you have a healthy relationship with your body and food? If you answered no, take time to journal and write out what your ideal relationship looks and feels like.
A lot of people think letting go of food rules means letting yourself indulge in all of the things. From past experience you know that doesn’t feel good either. It’s about listening to your body and finding that beautiful balance that leaves you feeling your best mentally, emotionally, socially and physically.
Begin to listen to the wisdom of your body. Remember intuitive eating is a eating style that promotes a healthy attitude and mindset towards food, the way you eat, and your body image.
As a gift I want to share a Body Love Meditation with you so you can keep coming back to that self-love and inner wisdom.
If this article resonated with you, I would love it if you could let me know in the comments below. I am so passionate about simplifying healthy eating and educating on this topic because knowledge = empowered choices.
If you found this article beneficial I would so appreciate it if you shared with a friend who would enjoy it too. Let’s be apart of the change and create the world we wish to see.
With love and light,