Intuitive Eating: Reality or Fantasy?
A few weeks ago, I got the question if intuitive eating was a real thing or not. A few years ago, I would have told you it seemed like a nice fantasy but couldn’t possibly be a reality for most people. However, today I truly believe in intuitive eating and the freedom it can give our bodies and our minds.
In today’s society, there is always a new fad diet being talked about, a new weight loss tip, or the new trend referred to as “bio-hacking”. The majority of the world has been on one kind of diet or another. And sadly, it’s not just adults that are affected by this mentality. 90% of all children have been on at least one diet by 4th grade. A time when children should be focused on learning the foundations of math, science, and history, they are focused on their weight and body image. This is a trend that needs to STOP!
What if we taught our children more about being in tune with their bodies, with their thoughts, and with their emotions? Perhaps the idea of intuitive eating would become the norm and not the anomaly.
So, what is intuitive eating? It’s a way of eating that stems from being connected to yourself and your body. Intuitive eating is a way of eating that does not focus on calorie counting or macro ratios, it simply comes from giving the body what it needs and wants in order to function well. Intuitive eating is in direct opposition to the diet mentality we have all come to know (and hate for the most part.)
Diets just don’t work. People go on them, people go off them. People try this diet and then try that diet. And with all the different diets out there or eating styles, it can become overwhelming and quite frankly frustrating to try and figure out what will work for you, since everyone is different. There’s no one way of eating that works for everyone.
However, many of us are so disconnected from ourselves and our bodies, that we wouldn’t know what to feed ourselves even if our body was screaming out for it. Therefore, before intuitive eating can even be a thought, there is some internal work that needs to happen first. In order to be intuitive with your food, you have to be intuitive with your mind and soul. That comes from slowing down, spending time with connecting to yourself, and releasing harmful and negative judgements about ourselves and about food.
Tips for Eating Intuitively:
- Stop Dieting – Get the diet mindset out of your head. Focus on giving your body real nutrients, real food, and real LOVE.
- Learn to Trust – Begin to trust yourself and your body again. Diets often turn our bodies against us because they lose trust in us, not knowing when they will get food, how much food they will get, and if they will get enough of the different types of food. Give your body time to adjust to eating intuitively. Give your body time to start trusting you again. And give yourself time to start trusting that your body knows exactly what to do.
- Challenge your Beliefs – Stop labeling food as “good” or “bad” and see it for what it is – the nutritional components and building blocks. Your body craves certain foods because it’s telling you that it’s lacking a certain nutrient. Perhaps your body craves salt because it needs sodium – eat some celery! It’s loaded with sodium! If you are craving chocolate, your body may be in need of magnesium and B-vitamins. Your body is talking to you through your cravings, take the time to truly listen and understand what your body needs. (For more on what your cravings may be telling you, check out this article from Get Healthy U).
- Honor Your Hunger + Fullness Cues – When you are hungry – eat! When you are full – stop! Just because there is food on your plate doesn’t mean that you have to eat it. And just because you hit your calories for the day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat if you are hungry. Unfortunately, most diets throw off the balance between leptin (our hormone that signals satiety/fullness) and ghrelin (our hormone that signals hunger/appetite). It may take some time before retraining these hormones AND being able to actually listen to the body!
- Respect Your Body – All of our bodies are different. We are genetically different. There is no typical body size. Unfortunately, not all of us are genetically made to be a size 2 or to look like a body builder. We need to let our bodies find their natural “set point” (the place where it wants to be) and be in acceptance of that. For years I tried to get my weight to a point that my body simply was not meant to be, and while someone else could get to that weight with no problem, my body simply was not made to do so. Now, this is not a cop out to just accept whatever weight you’re at and continue to eat crap and not move! But it is about not punishing your body for not being designed to fit some ideal on the front of a magazine!
- Love Yourself – You have to love yourself for intuitive eating to work. If that’s not in place, it’s just going to be an uphill battle. You have to love yourself in order to truly love your body and want to take care of it. By loving you, right where you’re at right now, you will start to care for your body that reflects that love. And that alone can shift everything!
So, is intuitive eating possible? YES! Absolutely. However, there are certain aspects that need to be in place for intuitive eating to actually work. I have found great freedom for myself through intuitive eating. Not tracking and counting calories or macros has liberated my body and my mind. My body does much better when I simply listen to what it needs. Tracking can be stressful; it definitely was for me. And that stress was actually causing me to stall my progress. However, when I let go of trying to fit my food into all these categories and come to trust my body more, everything else began to shift.
I am happier, healthier, and more connected to myself because of intuitive eating. If you would like more guidance and assistance on learning about intuitive eating, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat Well. Be Well.