Do you practice intuitive self-care? It’s a topic that I love because it’s all about trusting yourself, but living intuitively is not easy by any means. The idea of putting trust into your body’s wisdom of when to eat, what to eat, how to exercise and when to rest is not an easy task. But it’s important to practice as often as we can because our body knows best.
Let’s take a look at intuitive self-care a bit closer and how you can start practicing yourself!
Eating intuitively can be hard. For me, I find this aspect the most difficult. In the past, I’ve let food control my thoughts. I would constantly stress about what my next meal would be, or if a restaurant had something healthy enough for me. I rarely found myself ordering something on a menu that I actually wanted. I would just pick the healthiest option. But this backfired because I wasn’t feeding my body what it wanted. I found myself snacking a lot. I’m already an avid snacker but it only heightened when I didn’t listen to my body. I would snack on healthy foods but in ridiculously large quantities. Eating half a bag of cashews or a tub of almond butter in two days was my norm, and honestly I still do it from time to time. But I realized I do it when I try to eat as healthy as possible.
Lately I’ve tried to practice intuitive eating. Today is a perfect example. This morning I had kefir with trail mix and fruit because that’s what I wanted. And you know what? I had a pretty big bowl of it too (something I would never normally do). About 5 hours later I got an almond milk latte because I was craving one. Then for lunch instead of opting for the salad, I went with a chorizo and potato omelet. Something I would NEVER order a few months ago. It’s been about 4 hours and I haven’t even thought about food. And guess what? I feel great! I ate what my body wanted and I didn’t overeat. My body feels nourished and my stomach is satisfied.
How to Eat Intuitively
Intuitive eating means knowing when you’re hungry and what you want to eat. Try to listen to your five physical senses (taste, smell, sight, touch, sound). Do you want something bright in color? Something that has a bit of bite and crunch? Sweet? Savory? But intuitive eating doesn’t stop there. You may find what you want to eat, but the next step is to know when to stop eating. Listening to your body and knowing when you’ve reached fullness and stopping there.
This takes practice. You will make “mistakes” when trying to eat intuitively. You may find a meal where you overeat or at the end of the day feel like you didn’t eat enough. It takes time but you will get the hang of it and start to learn from your “mistakes”. The most important thing though is to not beat yourself up if you do make a “mistake”. Just learn from it and you know what to work on in the future.
It’s also important to get rid of the idea of “good” foods and “bad” foods when eating intuitively. Your body will have days when it craves healthy foods and some days you will crave foods that aren’t as healthy. But you can’t let that stop you. As I mentioned above, I always went with healthy options, but found myself binging on almond butter and cashews. Yes, both of those foods are good for you but only in moderation. If the idea of eating “bad” foods stresses you out, try compromising a bit. Let’s say you are really craving a burger but can’t fathom ordering one. Maybe order the burger with no bun and a side salad. Or instead of ordering fries maybe try ordering sweet potato fries instead.
The one thing I’ve noticed since I started to eat intuitively is that if I’m craving something not as healthy, I actually don’t feel terrible after eating it. I find that I don’t overeat because I’m eating more substantial foods.
Intuitive Exercise / Rest
Intuitive exercise is another difficult one to grasp. Most of us are in the habit of saying things like, “I should workout” or “I have to do something active today”. Exercise should be enjoyable and not about how many calories you burn. Any form of movement is great for your body. It can help release mental and physical stress. When we intuitively exercise it actually increases our physical activity. You learn to do exercises that you enjoy rather than what you think you should be doing.
Intuitive rest is the last aspect of intuitive self-care and it’s my favorite. Just as it’s important to listen to your body and do activities that you find enjoyable and workout because you want to, it’s also important to listen to your body and rest when needed. If you wake up one morning and really feel like you just have no energy to workout that day, then rest! Trying to push through is probably hurting you rather than helping you. If you push yourself too much and don’t give your body the proper rest days, you put yourself at risk of injury. Just think about how long an injury will take you out of the game! If you can’t fathom taking a full rest day, try doing something low impact like going on a walk or doing a yoga session. (Yoga Studio is a great app you can use at home)
As I mentioned, practicing intuitive self-care takes practice. It will be hard at first and you will have a few slip ups, but that’s fine! It will only help you learn more about yourself and what your body needs. So try giving intuitive self-care a go this week, even just one aspect of it. Let me know if you have any questions and I would love to hear how it goes!
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-trauma, body acceptance and wellness.