A Guide to Intuitive Eating
Tradition has taught us to eat three meals per day, with a couple of snacks in between to tide us over. Many are convinced that eating regularly is the key to a healthy body and lifestyle. However, others say that intuitive eating is the new way to go. Determining the amount and time of meals by what our body says might be a reasonable and healthy tactic. Our intuition is telling us when we are hungry. So why eat just because it is time for lunch or dinner? Why not listen to our body’s intuition and eat whenever our body tells us to.
For some people, this intuitive way of eating might sound strange and some might say they are always hungry and would overeat. To cure this problem here’s a guide to intuitive eating that will provide all the necessary information and tips to adapt your lifestyle to a more intuitive one.
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is all about listening to what your body says. It aims to align mind, body, and soul and wants you to build a healthy relationship with food. It is about being able to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings of hunger. Listening to your body’s intuition is the only way you will be successful in this kind of eating. Intuitive eating will help you make peace with yourself and food, as it teaches you to listen and be able to interpret the signs your body and mind are sending you. And in the case of those who say they will overeat on this type of program, the key is to listen to your body carefully. As long as you stop eating when you are actually full and follow your intuition, intuitive eating will have a positive impact on your lifestyle.
The good thing is, we were born as intuitive eaters. While this may sound easy in the when you take a closer look you will see that we are living in a world that preaches diets. Most of us have committed to a certain kind of diet at least once in our lives and know the feeling after completing a certain program and retreating back to your old way of eating, the lost pounds are gained again very quickly. When following intuitive eating it is essential to find the inner wisdom and intuition that is telling us when and what to eat. Therefore, it is important to return back to the state in the body, where you were able to listen to the signals your body was sending.1 In order to get there, here are a couple of tips and tricks you can follow:
Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full
Start as simple as that and take this mantra as a guideline to a more mindful lifestyle. Try to keep this sentence in mind whenever you are about to eat something. Are you actually hungry or just about to eat because there is food around or you are bored? It is important to be able to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings. Physical feelings are the ones like hunger and emotional ones refer to feeling like anxiety or boredom.
Learn to honor your hunger
Appreciate the feeling of hunger and follow your intuition. What kind of food do you feel like and how much? Do you crave something hot or cold? Every food is allowed as long as it is enjoyed in moderation and will satisfy what your body needs. Once you have figured what you want to eat, eat as much as you need to be full but stop once you are satisfied. Here lies the key to intuitive eating. Once you start getting full, take a break and listen to what your body says. Honor every bite, be conscious, and moderate while eating. This is essential in order to be successful at intuitive eating.
Make peace with food
It is important to allow yourself to eat whenever you are hungry and whatever you feel like eating. It is not necessarily beneficial to prohibit yourself from certain kind of food just because it is said to be bad, fatty, or unhealthy. If you feel like this kind of food, just eat it. But, make sure to listen to your body and stop eating once you’re full. And certain foods should still be enjoyed in moderation, as intuitive eating will likely not work if you are doing so with only fast food. Don’t feel guilty when you feel like chocolate. Allow yourself a little piece and ask your body how you feel afterward. Are you feeling satisfied? When you forbid yourself certain kinds of food, it can lead to intense cravings for this certain food and this can become uncontrollable, often ending in binging and a feeling of guilt.
Eat more Mindful
You probably know this scene: eating and either using your phone, watching TV or a movie. However, this distraction is prohibiting you from a conscious way of eating as you are busy with the content that is taking your attention. You are not really aware of your meal or most importantly your fullness level. Try to be ‘offline’ while eating. Concentrate on your meal and be aware of every bite. Appreciate the feeling of getting full and be able to stop once you are satisfied. Being mindful can help at this point as it wants you to experience the moment.2
Respect your fullness and satisfaction
Listen to your body and recognize when it is signaling that it is full and the hunger is satisfied. A good way to check is to take a little break in the middle of the meal or food you are eating and be aware of the taste, texture, and your fullness level. Do you feel good, satisfied, and comfortably full?
Honor your feelings without using food and respect your body
Many of us know the feeling. You are bored and sitting at home and because you have nothing else to do you eat, even though you are not hungry. Try to cure boredom, anxiety or loneliness not with food but with something else. Find a way to occupy yourself with something, because food doesn’t solve the problem or cure the boredom. It is only a short-term solution that will satisfy you for the moment but not long-term.
Respect your body and feelings. Find different ways to help yourself out of the situation and overcome the anxiety or boredom. Try going for a run, practicing yoga, or reading a book. All of these things will take your mind off your anxiety or boredom, stopping you from mindless eating.
Every healthy lifestyle is more efficient and beneficial if combined with exercise. You might experience exercise more as a hassle and stress than as a compensation for stress, anxiety and other feelings. So you simply have to shift the focus. When exercising, don’t think about how many calories you burn but think about the way your body feels before, during, and after a workout. What changed?
One of the big advantages of exercise is that it help you to forget all your worries and challenges and allows you to clear your mind. It makes you live the moment a lot more and consequently balance out mind, body, and soul, which is one of the biggest aims of intuitive eating.
The intuitive eating journey
Nothing comes overnight. Honor the process and feel more and more intuitive and aware every day. As small as the step can be it is still a step in the right direction. With a more conscious lifestyle, you’ll be able to feed all your hunger: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Being satisfied is one of the biggest aims in intuitive eating and following an intuitive eating program will ultimately end in a more satisfied self.
To get more information about intuitive eating, check out this informative and interesting book about the whole philosophy of intuitive eating.
In order to be able to calculate the right amount of food when cooking here is a quick overview on portion sizes.
Now that it is getting colder, a warm bowl of soup is just what you need to stay cozy and satisfied. Follow your intuition and try one of our soup recipes.
1. "What Is Intuitive Eating?" The Original Intuitive Eating Pros. IntuitiveEating.org, n.d. Web.
2. Mauney, Anne. "Intuitive Eating + Mindful Eating: A How to Guide." FANNEtastic Food Registered Dietitian Blog Recipes + Healthy Living + Fitness. Fannetastic Food, 30 Sept. 2016. Web.