What You Need To Know About Intuitive Eating
So intuitive eating is something I have been learning more and more about and what I encourage each of my clients to aim for as they let go of body image roadblocks and create the life that they love in the here and now! However, I think it is something that anyone and everyone can adapt to their life so that they rely more on how their body feels rather than tracking, counting and restricting.
I believe we are created to live bold, exciting, full and happy lives and we spend WAY too much time comparing, worrying about our weight and delaying living until we feel like we are the ideal size. The world needs strong, brave women to live now in this moment. Freeing yourself from the cycle of dieting is an amazing step to creating more space in your mind to focus on other things, and that's ultimately what we should want!
This will be something that takes time because it is so counter to what we have been told. Eat every three hours, wait 4-6 hours between meals, get these many grams of carbs or fat, don't eat these foods after a certain time, only indulge one meal a week and so on. But this is not living. This is restriction. When you turn off cues from the world and tune into cues from your body you will be surprised just what it will tell you.
First off, let me tell you what intuitive eating is NOT. It is not another diet for you to follow. It is not a rigid program to use to lose weight. It is not a guide that's ultimate goal is weight loss. Again let me say, it is not a diet. It IS an approach to eating that aims to free us from the constraints of diet culture. The goal for intuitive eating is to be able to eat in a way that frees you from guilt, honors hunger, respects fullness and helps you enjoy the pleasure of eating again.
- Aim to reject diet mentality! Anything that involves counting, tracking, restriction, healthy for the sake of healthy is no longer your compass. I know it feels safer to have something to follow but in reality, when you have something to stick too, you have something to fall off of. Free yourself from the diet culture ideas that you have been trapped in for so long. Start asking yourself what you really like to eat and what you miss eating.
- Honor your hunger and respect your fullness. Your body WILL signal when it is hungry and when it is full. You just need to listen. So often we go eat because its lunchtime or finish eating and realize we are super stuffed. When you stop listening to internal cues and start focusing on external ones you create a disconnect to where your body's signals are no longer as loud. You have to retrain them to show up and you have to retrain your brain to listen. Practice slowing down, eating with fewer distractions and chewing more.
- Enjoy what you crave! So often we are craving sweets or pizza and deny ourselves because it doesn't align with our diets. This has to stop. You are able to eat the things you crave just enjoy them! Pay attention to the taste, the texture and how it makes you feel. Experience your food in the way it was meant to be by really connecting to the experience of eating it. Pay attention to if it was as good as you thought it would be, was it really what you were craving, do you feel satisfied and happy or do you feel overfull and tired. If you are worried that you will crave foods you have considered "bad" I challenge you to dig into your fear around these foods and more than likely the fear you have of potentially gaining weight.
- Challenge the voice in your head. That little voice can be our greatest enemy or our best cheerleader. Sometimes it isn't even the people around us saying something about our food but it is the thoughts we are thinking. Practice challenging those thoughts as they appear. Reminding yourself that foods are not good or bad and that there is no shame in eating something. Remind yourself that you are not defined by these choices and that you are on a journey to discovering a new way of eating. Our minds are a powerful thing, once you start to believe, your actions will follow.
- Respect your body! It is time to make peace with your body. To start listening to what it needs and create space for you to begin to respect it. We are so often fighting our body, ignoring health cues and pushing forward for the sake of the thinner body. This has gotten us nowhere and severely damaged the relationship with your body. Accepting your natural size (bigger or smaller than you may be now) will allow you to treat your body with the respect it deserves. When we take the focus off weight loss, yes we might gain weight. Did you ever stop to think that maybe you need too? That your body's healthiest weight wasn't what you were fighting to keep it at? Respect your body, your curves or your narrow frame, your height or lack thereof, your ability to move, walk, sit, stand or to not be able to do any of those things. When you respect your body and its uniqueness your body is finally able to come home and you can be all you were meant to be as well.
Let me be frank. In the beginning, as you listen to your body, it will probably tell you to eat aaalllll the things you never really allowed yourself to eat before. This is normal and I encourage you to follow through on this. See when you realize that you can eat any of these things at any time, eventually, the craving associated with restriction will dissipate and you will only really crave them when you genuinely want them, not for fear of never having it again.
I once heard this called 'donut land' and I loved it. We should not be surprised when we find ourselves on the pendulum of diet land to donut land. What you are aiming to get to is a balanced place where your body leads and you follow. Where you can see a donut and not have to eat it but also not feel shame if you do. Where you can eat lots of green leafy veggies because you know they are good for your gut and energy and not feel sad that you didn't have the pizza.
Intuitive eating has been a new practice of mine and it feels amazing. Not always clear, but I do my best to listen and learn. I absolutely had a ton of pizza, beer, cookies and breakfast tacos when I started to let go of my diet mentality. It was hard but it was also amazing. As my body slowly realized that I was no longer restricting it, it started again craving lots of the things I used to eat too, veggies, beans, fish, salads and water haha. There are days that are better than others but each day my fear of food and it's control over me gets less and less. I am able to open myself up and focus on so much more than what I'm eating that day or what my body will look like in a swimsuit. The more connected we become to ourselves the more aligned we can also be in creating a life that we love from the inside out!
Happy living babes xx