Before I start explaining what, why & how’s of Intuitive eating, let me paint a picture for you.
Imagine a life where you feel lively, happy, and enjoy guilt-free eating instead of associating negative emotions with your food, health goals, and lifestyle.
Be free from counting calories, obsessing with food, have a yo-yo relationship with your health and meal plans, and can trust your body when it tells you when it’s hungry, full, thirsty, and satisfied.
Let us learn to trust ourselves with all kinds of foods and feel confident with our choices.
Now, what is intuitive eating? It is the process of making you the expert of your body and its hunger signals. It’s how we can start believing and promoting healthy attitudes towards eating and body image.
How does this work you ask? Well, the basic principle is to eat when you feel hungry and stop when you are almost feeling full.
The rule over here is to eat till your 80 percent full.
However, this intuition has lost its charm over the decades as we have many distractions, emotional & mental stress, less awareness, and more of running on an autopilot mode.
So how do we get back to our roots and bring back this “feature” to helps us take a step towards a healthier lifestyle?
First, let’s understand the two types of hunger:
Physical hunger: This is our biological urge to renew our nutrients and our energy. Hunger has different signals like fatigue, irritability, mood swings, and growling stomach which all subsides when we eat and feel satisfied.
Emotional hunger: This is where the problem arises as we associate our feelings and emotions with food and this is what creates cravings and ends up in us reaching out for comfort foods. We then develop hatred towards ourselves and the food itself. Here is how we can start connecting with ourselves again and feel refreshed and energetic again:
Remove the stigma around the word “diet” We often chase quick fixes and end up damaging our body’s hunger signals and system to recognize how we should ideally be eating. Diet is what suits your body and not what others do. It is what you see yourself inculcating in your routine throughout your life.
Respect your hunger
In the same way, when our body gives the hunger signals we need to make sure that we feel it immediately as when we postpone our hunger we tend to overeat or binge eat and this is what leads to all our other health problems. Hunger is not your enemy so treat it with respect and you will see your body bloom.
Making peace with food
Stop having a battle within whether you should be eating a particular food or not. Know that no one food causes weight gain/weight loss. It is your entire lifestyle that affects your body. So stop having a war with food and make a truce with it.
Challenge the boundaries that are built around food
No one food is good or bad. Stop labeling them or yourself for making certain choices. Challenge yourself and your thoughts about food and break those boundaries.
Bring awareness to your feelings of fullness
As we had discussed above on how we should respect our hunger, the same way we also need to respect our fullness. You should eat till you are comfortable with the way you feel and not till the point where you feel bloated and feel that the food is till your throat.
Make your eating time pleasurable
Enjoy your food, chew slowly, and sit down to eat. This makes a lot of difference in how well your food is digested and how your brain perceives the satisfying feeling of food.
Emotional eating is a big NO-NO
Emotional eating is a way of dealing with your feelings yes but this results in us going into overdrive and binging on whatever we can find at that moment. Find ways to deal with emotions that are not related to food like taking a walk, talking to an old friend, meditating, painting, learning new things, and journaling. Intuitive eating helps with drawing a line between physical and emotional hunger.
Stop body-shaming yourself
Don’t criticize and compare. Negative self-talk only leads to more stress which in turn leads to a gain in weight and emotional eating. Just know that you are beautiful and if you do have health issues start doing something about it and make it your priority.
Physical activity is as important as the food we eat. Moving your body helps in releasing endorphins which results in a happy mood. Find an exercise that you enjoy that will help you to shift the focus from the numbers and help you feel energized and strong.
Be gentle with yourself and make the change
Eat what makes you feel good and remember that one meal or snack is not going to make or break your health. You will have to overall change your lifestyle for any kind of result
Start with accepting your body, treat it with respect, and make the change that you have been putting away. Your health is and always has to be your priority.