The End of Yo-Yo Dieting
Intuitive eating is crucial for health and happiness. People who don’t are usually unhappy, overweight, feel guilty when eating, feel deprived when they hold back, and are often yo-yo dieters looking for a magic bullet but never seeing results.
Imagine: Always knowing exactly the right thing to eat, how much to eat, when to eat it, and feeling great after – that’s what eating intuitively feels like!
Define “Intuitive Eating”
An intuitive eater is a person who “makes food choices without guilt, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.” I think it goes a bit deeper than that. A massive component is awakening your body’s natural signals of hunger, fullness, or THIS FOOD IS BAD FOR YOU.
Once you awaken these signals, great care should be taken to heal your digestive system. The sad truth is most digestive systems have been in shock since they were small children due to high amounts of processed food. In the most extreme cases, an elimination diet can help you eliminate the foods that irritate your digestive system in order to begin healing. This doesn’t mean cutting foods forever; Just long enough to get to a healthy baseline, then most foods can be added back in WITH moderation. My favorite book about digestive healing is Eating Alive by John Matsen, who happens to be a fellow Vancouverite 🙂
Let’s break down some components of intuitive eating.
The body tells us when it’s hungry. However, there are many things that will keep us from hearing it, such as stress, being too busy, working all day, etc. The body can’t digest food well under stress, therefore if you are stressed you are less likely to feel hungry. If you’re not hungry, you shouldn’t eat just because it’s noon. It won’t digest properly and you might experience symptoms like bloating. A better solution is to find ways to relax throughout the day so you can naturally feel hungry and awaken those signals.
The body tells us when it’s full. Did you know it can take up to 15 minutes for a fullness signal to get from the stomach to the brain? Doesn’t that explain why so many people are hungry, eating, still hungry, eating, and suddenly FEEL LIKE THEIR STOMACH IS ABOUT TO BURST THEY ARE SOOO FULL?
What to do? It’s simple. Eat slower. Really chew your food. Be mindful, notice the flavors, truly taste your food. Put your fork down. Take a sip of water between each bite. Crack some jokes. Sit for 5 minutes before grabbing seconds. Let those fullness signals travel to your brain and give yourself a chance to hear them.
Eating For Pleasure
The diet mentality usually dictates that eating for pleasure = BAD. Therefore, “cheat” meals are a frequent occurrence and they usually lead to binging, “cheat” DAYS or “cheat” WEEKS!
First of all, let’s ditch the word “cheat” meal. We need to reassociate eating for pleasure to something positive! Eating is one of the most enjoyable things we can do so why would we demonize eating things we like? The problem with pleasure food usually isn’t the food itself but how much we eat! And when we demonize it, it causes binging.
What if we realize that it’s OK to eat a treat sometimes? That it’s OK to just have one piece? What if we know those treats and pleasure foods are always available and we can eat them whenever we want without guilt? What if we eat slowly and become extremely satisfied with a small portion, even more satisfied than if we quickly ate way too much?
It Takes a Long Time
To become an intuitive eater! After 30-40-50 or more years of ignoring your body’s natural signals, don’t expect them to wake up overnight. Becoming an intuitive eater is a long process of healing and habit building. As with anything in life, you must embrace and enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Understand that you will have setbacks. You will have cravings. It’s OK! It takes a while to change a lifetime of conditioning but I assure you it will be well worth it.
An awesome way to begin eating intuitively and recognizing those signals is to start a food journal.
That’s it, That’s all
We’ve defined intuitive eating and broken down some components: hunger signals, fullness signals, and eating for pleasure. This isn’t a definitive guide but I hope it gets you one step closer to eating intuitively and ending the diet mentality. Remember, intuitive eating isn’t simply about eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full, but those are big parts.
Eating intuitively is the best way to live a happy, healthy life and truly become friends with food again.
Let me know down in the comments if you found this article useful or if you have questions. Thanks for reading!