When it comes to what, when and how much you eat, do you let your body guide you, or do you look to someone or something else for answers? Do you count calories, no longer trusting your body to tell you to stop once you’ve had enough? Or, do you eat according to a prescribed meal plan, regardless of how your body’s needs change day-to-day?
I believe every human has a wisdom inside of them that knows what serves them and what doesn’t. Yet, so many of us have lost touch with this when it comes to food. If you’ve ever wondered how much avocado you’re “allowed” to have, or if you tend to jump onboard every new dieting trend, you may be stuck in a dieting mentality.
Intuitive eating is about listening to your body and what is right for you in each moment. It fosters a sense of freedom that inspires a healthy relationship with food and your body, and it’s an approach that aims to bring the joy back into eating without any of the guilt. I’m not saying you can eat like a piglet and still expect to have amazing health – of course not – but being rigid in our food choices or experiencing guilt around food isn’t healthy either. It is what we do every day that impacts our health, not what we do occasionally, so base your everyday choices on real, whole foods – rather than processed foods – that you know in your heart serve your body and your health.
If you would like to begin your intuitive eating journey, I cannot encourage you enough to embrace these principles:
Say no to dieting
More often than not, people who go on a diet regain the weight they lost, plus more. Diets don’t work in the long-term – they’re not sustainable. I have witnessed countless people transform their body by relaxing and moving away from basing their food choices on the calorie equation. They don’t weigh themselves and they don’t obsess over what they eat or don’t eat. Their clothes fit comfortably. They have great energy and excellent health. It is truly transformational when you shift your focus away from weight and calories to health, energy and nourishment. It’s time to stop dieting, and start nourishing. Choose nutrient-dense, whole, real foods.
Tune in to your body’s hunger and fullness cues
This can take a little practise, particularly if you’ve been eating refined sugars (as these make you want more and more sugar) or if you’ve been dieting and tuning these signals out for a long time, so please don’t judge yourself or give up if it doesn’t come easily to you from the get-go. When we’re eating highly refined, processed foods, it can be very difficult to regulate our appetite, so focus on eating whole, real foods to support you in this process.
Notice how your body tells you that you are hungry and observe how it lets you know when you’re no longer hungry. Some people find rating their hunger on a scale of one to ten helpful, so if this appeals, try doing this before, during and/or after a meal for a period of time to help you get back in touch with the messages your body is sending you.
We are so incredibly fortunate in the Western world to have more food available to us than we physically need. Remind yourself of this and know that you can choose to eat more when you are hungry again. Remember, your hunger and fullness signals are your body’s way of telling you what it needs, so do your best to appreciate these messages as the gifts that they are. Remember too, the importance of chewing your food well and slowing down your eating. Scoffing your food can also mess up your fullness cues as your body doesn’t have the time to communicate to you that it’s full.
Respect your body
The way you feed yourself is a form of self-care (love) you can show yourself, and as cheesy as it might sound, the key to any effective diet or lifestyle change is to truly believe that you are worthy of love – your own. Please remember that you are precious, that life is precious, and to treat yourself accordingly.