Ever heard of Intuitive Eating? Wish you could eat without feeling guilty? Fed up and frustrated with constant dieting? Could Intuitive Eating be the answer?
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is a wonderfully simple (and kind) way to stop dieting and still get your body into a healthy weight and shape.
Instead of having restrictions, rules and diets, you reconnect with your body and listen to the cues it is trying to give you.
Hunger, satisfaction, fullness.
Energy, lethargy, health.
Are you still hungry or are you clearing your plate because you’re “supposed to”?
Does that Mars bar make you feel better or actually a bit bloated and fatigued?
Are you eating because you’re bored or is your body actually asking you for nutrients?
By relearning to listen to your body – and I do mean relearning because many of us have forgotten how to truly listen and respond to these cues – you can completely change your relationship with food and eliminate the need to ever diet again.
So how do you do it? How do you change a lifetime of bad habits into natural, easy intuitive eating?
10 Steps To Making Intuitive Eating Work For You
Intuitive eating is so wonderfully simple. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it will be easy to start with.
Most of us have several decades of diets, guilt and food shame behind us. You need to relearn how to listen to your body. How to trust your hunger cues. And how to be kind to yourself as you process all the emotions that big changes – and daily life – can bring.
1 – Say Goodbye To The Diet Mindset
The first step towards intuitive eating is to let go of the idea of dieting. You don’t need to count calories or stick solely to cabbage soup for a week.
Your body will tell you what it needs and when, but you need to remember how to listen and to trust the process.
A diet, by its very nature, is the opposite of intuitive eating. You have to let go of the diet myth and be willing to try a new way of thinking about food.
2 – Listen To Your Hunger
The key is listening to your hunger. Eat when you’re hungry – stop when you’re not. Simple right? But many of us have spent years practising ignoring our hunger in an attempt to “eat less” or “cut calories”.
To make the move to intuitive eating, you will need to start paying close attention to your body and really hearing what it is telling you.
What does real hunger feel like in your body? Can you tell the difference between real hunger and boredom or emotional distress?
Mindfulness can help you here. By focusing and bringing awareness to your body in this very moment you can start to reconnect and make a step towards intuitive eating.
3- Make Peace With Food
You’ve probably always had a love-hate relationship with food. You love to eat it – but hate the power it holds over you.
It’s time to let that hate go.
Food is our friend. It’s here to nourish our bodies, keep us healthy and give us the energy we need to thrive.
Many of you will need to make peace with food. Let go of the frustrations and negative feelings you have about it and willingly accept it as a positive in your life once again. Something to appreciate, enjoy and be grateful for each and every day.
4 – Finish When You’re Full
Our culture has a habit of training our children to eat until their plate is clear. This is terrible advice – but sadly conditioning that most of us probably endured as kids.
Instead of teaching people to listen to their body cues and stop when they are full, it teaches them to ignore their feelings of fullness and stop listening to the message of satiation.
This conditioning needs to be unlearned.
It’s ok to leave food on your plate. It’s ok to listen to your body and stop when you are full – whether you’ve got one spoonful left or half a plate of your meal!
Your body knows best. Listen to it and trust it.
5 – Look Out For Satisfaction Cues
I know what you’re thinking – aren’t satisfaction cues the same as feeling full? Not quite.
Have you ever eaten a meal, felt full but still felt you needed something else? Pudding perhaps? A little bit of cheese?
Our bodies don’t just need calories – they need nutrients. If you’re not eating a healthy balance of foods you can still find that your body feels unsatisfied even after eating.
The most common cause of “full but unsatisfied” is eating a meal that’s full of carbs and lacking fats or protein.
Carbs fuel our energy but fats and proteins make us feel satisfied. So pay attention to your body. Learn what meals make you feel satisfied and which make you feel full but still lacking something.
6 – Let Go Of The Idea Of “Good” & “Bad” Foods
If I asked you to list some bad foods, I bet you could reel off a list in seconds. Chocolate, sweets, ice cream, pudding, pizza…
We’re ALL conditioned to watch out for “bad” foods.
Eat healthily. Don’t eat junk. Avoid fast foods.
All good advice – when it comes from your body. Not a good plan when it comes from your mind.
Intuitive eating gives you the freedom to view all foods as just foods. Not good. Not bad. Just food.
By listening to your body, and adjusting your eating habits to make your body feel satisfied, healthy and happy, you take the power out of food and find a new way of eating that gives you freedom of choice and freedom from food guilt, shame and control.
7 – Be Kind To Yourself
For women, there’s always been immense pressure to look good and be beautiful. And this has only increased with the growth of social media.
I don’t know about you, but just 10 minutes on TikTok can have me Googling fake tan and better butt exercises!
In this connected world where everyone online looks perfect, it can be incredibly easy to be hard on yourself. But intuitive eating requires kindness.
You need to be kind to yourself and kind to your body.
Accept yourself exactly as you are. Imperfect – just like everyone else.
And treat yourself with the kindness that you’d give to others.
Feeling low? Be kind to yourself. Get some self-care in and give your emotions some space.
Feeling fat? Be kind to yourself. Remember that change is a process. It takes time to make progress and progress is almost never linear. It’s always three steps forward two steps back.
Emotional eating is a really common problem, but by being kind to yourself and giving your emotions space without judgement, you’ll be able to process them without the need to silence them with food.
8 – Love and Respect Your Body
Your body is a gift. No matter how much you love it or hate it, it’s the only one you’ve got and you’re going to be together for a long time. It deserves respect.
But how can you respect your body when you don’t like how it looks or feels? This is where loving and accepting yourself just as you are.
Don’t talk unkindly about your body – sure, there may be some things you’re not thrilled about – but ultimately, your body gives you life. It lets you live, love and experience everything you do each day. And that is certainly something to be grateful for.
Speak about your body the way you would about your best friend. Be lavish in compliments and keep your criticisms in check.
Don’t beast yourself at the gym as punishment. Exercise is a gift for your body, a way to build health, not force your body into submission.
Respecting your body means listening to what it has to say, taking care of it and being kind to it. And most importantly, learning to love it.
9 – Move More
When you start listening to your body, you’ll probably notice that it’s not quite as happy as you thought.
You might start to feel uncomfortable while you sit at your desk. You might notice that you actually feel pretty stiff and achy when you wake in the mornings.
This is great news. It means you’re listening.
And when you listen you can make changes that improve your health, make you feel better and improve your relationship with your body.
Do you need a new chair for your home office? Is your mattress in need of replacement? Do you need to move more? Add some stretches into your daily routine?
Your body will tell you what it needs – from food to movement or even more sleep. You just need to listen.
10 – Eat To Nourish
And finally, make the shift in your mind that food is for nourishment – not pleasure.
Yes, we can enjoy the foods we eat – and we should!
But the primary purpose of eating is to nourish our bodies and give it the fuel it needs to work well, feel good and allow you to enjoy your life.
When you combine this belief with intuitive eating – listening to your body cues, noticing when you’re hungry and full, paying attention to how you feel after eating different types of foods – you can transform your relationship with food and achieve a healthy body weight without ever having to diet again.
Need a Little Lockdown Inspiration?
This last year has been tough on all of us – mentally, physically and emotionally. So if the announcement of a new lockdown hit you hard then you’re certainly not alone.
I’d like to be here for you in any way that I can. I’ve already created a collection of blog posts to help you feel calm, in control and healthy throughout the lockdowns including:
How to Stay Active During Lockdown
8 Ways To Protect Your Mental Health During Lockdown
Could a Morning Routine Change Your Life?
Feeling Stressed Out? Why Meditation Could Be The Answer
Best Homemade Face Mask To Pamper Yourself At Home