I briefly discussed intuitive eating in my past blog, Intuitive Self-Care, but today I want to take a closer look and address common questions and concerns people have about eating intuitively.
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is the practice of listening to your body and letting it guide you in choosing what, when and how much to eat. It’s about learning to listen to your body’s signals to tell you what your body needs and trusting yourself to make the right decisions that will nourish your body. When you intuitively eat, you get rid of external messages that tell you that certain foods are “good” or “bad” and instead you ask yourself what your body needs in that moment. You then do your best to feed your body what it’s asking for, regardless of what it’s labeled by others. When you eat intuitively, it enhances your eating experience; you appreciate the smell, texture, and taste of your food rather than focusing on if it’s healthy or unhealthy. Noticing how you feel after you eat certain foods it’s also a great way to connect with your body. You start to develop a more balanced and healthy relationship with food, where you learn to eat food in moderation and let go of bingeing and deprivation.
How will I know if I’m hungry or full?
It’s also important to remember that everyone is different; you have to learn your own body’s cues for hunger and fullness. For some, hunger can mean your stomach may grumble. Some people get headaches or feel weak or dizzy. Sometimes you may even get hangry (hungry + angry). Fullness can mean you have a heaviness in your stomach. The food you are eating may start to lose its flavor. It’s possible you may have a hard time recognizing these signs and that’s 100% normal! We’ve gotten into the habit of suppressing our body’s signals. To help fight this, it may be a good idea to eat on a regular schedule, about every three to four hours until your hunger is recovered.
What if I overeat or don’t eat enough?
No one said intuitive eating is easy. In fact, it’s not easy at all! It’s a continual learning experience and isn’t something that just happens overnight. Every day is a learning experience for me, sometimes I overeat but instead of beating myself up about it, I learn from that experience and move on. You can use those learning times to become more aware of what your body needs. How do you want to feel when you’re done eating? How do certain types of foods in different amounts make you feel? When we understand how we feel about these important questions, we develop the ability to make more balanced food choices more easily in the future. Beating yourself up for making a mistake will hurt you, not help you. That guilt doesn’t allow you to learn from the experience and it will be easier to repeat that perceived “mistake” in the future. This may sound impossible but it does get easier. Over time you will start to discover what foods make you feel good and which ones make you feel bad. You’ll learn how much food leaves you feeling nourish and satisfied. It’s important to note these states won’t always be the same – every day is different!
Am I even hungry for food?
Are you really hungry for food? It’s important to take a moment and ask yourself if it’s really food you’re hungry for, or is it something else? Are you bored? Stressed? Lonely? Anxious? Is eating really going to satisfy what you’re really hungry for? We won’t always be perfect but there will be times when you eat even if you aren’t physically hungry. But it’s important to be aware of how you’re feeling when you turn to food. Asking yourself, am I really hungry right now? or am I really hungry for this?
Will I lose or gain weight if I eat intuitively?
This is probably the most common concern people have with intuitive eating. Listening to your body and eating intuitively may cause you to lose weight, gain weight or not change weight at all. But regardless of what happens to your weight, eating intuitively will lead to sustainable self-care. Did you know we all have a set point weight? It’s a weight that your body likes to be and stay at with very little effort. Practicing intuitive eating helps you get to a stable set point weight. This will reduce your diet cycle of constantly losing or gaining weight. Your set point weight is based on a few things including: your particular body, your genetics and your past history with weight loss or gain cycling. You know you hit your set point weight when your clothes fit basically the same every day. Some days we will fluctuate more than others depending on your menstrual cycle, stress, or even the seasons.
If you do lose weight, don’t look at intuitive eating as a “good” diet. This will keep you in that diet mentality and you will focus on your weight rather than self-care. Weight doesn’t define your worth and success isn’t determined by the number on the scale. intuitive eating allows you to nourish your body and be well and happy. Remember it’s a process; be patient and kind to yourself.
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-trauma, body acceptance and wellness.