One of my favorite tools for helping clients gain control of their unwanted eating habits is the practice of Intuitive Eating. It’s an extremely kind, compassionate and loving method of eating, and it’s the long-term solution to helping clients heal their relationship with food from the inside out.
I remember the moment I was first introduced to Intuitive Eating. The concept of listening to my body as my guide to nutrition felt extremely foreign and unattainable to me. My habits with food were a complete and total mess, ranging from binge-eating to the perfect Paleo regime, with absolutely no gray area in between.
My ideals around food were extremely high, which made the impact of failing at them even higher. I had a background in nutrition and knew every trick on the planet about health and wellness, but the essential missing piece was the ability to consistently trust my body to do the right and nourishing thing with regards to food.
Not only has Intuitive Eating kept me at a healthy and stable weight — it’s also allowed me to have an extremely satisfying relationship with food.
Fast-forward to five years later — I no longer have to worry about nutrition and eating. Instead, I allow my body to do it for me.
If you resonate with any part my story, or if you’re simply looking for a new way to “do food,” then read on as I share with you my Beginners Guide to Intuitive Eating.
- Don’t take everything you’ve ever heard about “good food” and “bad food” so seriously.
When you’re eating, try to put all those healthy tips you’ve read to the side. Realize that when people share nutritional information, especially on the internet, it’s based on out-of-context facts and not your personal experience. It doesn’t take into account your specific body type or your life circumstances. The less nutrition information you try to remember, the more you get to listen to your body and trust what it needs — day to day, hour to hour.
- Pleasure and satisfaction are essential.
Truth: Human beings are wired to feel, want and crave pleasure. There is no possible way around it. Hence people’s “willpower problem.” When pleasure is taken out of our diets we will do anything to make up for it, oftentimes binge-eating just to get back the very foods we have tried to eliminate. Practice Intuitive Eating by going to the supermarket and walking down every single aisle, slowly and mindfully. Take a look: is there anything you feel drawn to? Perhaps something out of your comfort zone, like a treat that you only have on special occasions, or something you always overdo it with. Bring that food home. Sit at the table with it in a slow and mindful way, and check in with yourself after you’ve finished eating it. How does it feel in your stomach? Do this every single week and you will naturally start to have balanced habits with food.
- Learn to listen to your physical signs of hunger and fullness.
Once a day, find somewhere quiet to sit and have some alone time. Put your hand on your stomach and feel it out. Get comfortable with that part of your body. This can be a hard one for some people because if we don’t like our bellies, we tend to ignore that part of our bodies altogether. Realize that the belly is where we feel hunger and fullness first, though we sometimes get stuck in our heads when it comes to eating. Once you do this away from the table, do this at the table. Touch your stomach before, during and after meals to gauge how hungry or full you are, and then try your best to honor those feelings. Remember that you have several chances a day to practice this, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get the hang of it every single time. Just keep listening and learning.
- When you eat — Eat.
Don’t worry so much about WHAT you’re eating. Instead, focus on HOW you’re eating. When you eat, sit down at a table and put all other distractions aside. That means phones, books, mail and anything else that will take you away from the experience of eating. This simple practice automatically helps you slow down and tune in — exactly what you need in order to hear and feel your hunger and fullness.
- There is always more tomorrow.
In a diet mentality, most people think, “I will just start over tomorrow,” allowing them to overeat in the first place. With Intuitive Eating there are no limitations on the foods you can eat. In fact, having more tomorrow is even better than overdoing today. How freeing!
If you could change one thing about the way you do food, what would it be? Scroll below and share your insights in the conversation.