Intuitive eating, or mindful eating, is about appreciating and enjoying your food, letting your choices be determined by what you think is best to do for you, not what you think you should do. It is also about identifying when fullness is reached.1 It is no revelation that people eat for other reasons beside hunger, but when 500 nutrition counselors were asked the top 10 reasons people overeat, hunger did not even make the list. Research has also repeatedly shown that those who are not “on a diet”, but are more intuitive eaters, obtain enough nutrients and calories the body needs, are more accepting of their body, tend to make healthier choices, and experience weight loss or weight maintenance.
There are many neurotransmitters, hormones, and cellular reactions taking place in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, setting off an array of signals and cues every second. That would explain the merit of “going with our intuition”, “gut reaction” or “gut feeling”. Intuitive eating is really about connecting the body and mind, trusting your instincts, sensory perceptions, and being content with your choices. After all, who knows better what you need than yourself?!
Do you want to be more of an intuitive eater and stop questioning, second-guessing, and doubting your food choices? Here are some suggestions to help gently guide you in a more positive and holistic direction, listening to your body’s needs, experiencing satisfaction, and well-being. What’s not to like about that?
Ditch The Distractions
One of the major components of intuitive eating is to listen to your body, thoughts, and physiological cues. Undoubtedly, it is especially difficult in today’s challenging environment. We have a slew of social media outlets at our fingertips juxtaposed to the blaring and buzzing T.V’s, computers, radio, and chatter at work, restaurants, shopping arenas, and even our places of worship. The overwhelming amount of food marketing, social media attention on outward appearance, bombardment of “magic bullet” quick-fixes, and social expectations can make anyone’s head spin. Those distractions can drown out the internal cues and signals communication we naturally emit within our system all day long.
Welcome Your Thoughts
Find some quiet time throughout the day, just 10-15 minutes will work, and just start tuning in to what your body is saying. Do you feel really tired today, anxious, sad, hungry, happy, at peace, confused? The more you do it, the easier it will get. Next, try to funnel those thoughts into those around food, satisfaction and needs, all the while be sure to let the negative thoughts go. Picture a window and just swoosh them out the window into space where they will dissipate and vanish. Keep doing it, it will get easier.
In Full and Fulfilled: The Science of Eating to Your Soul’s Satisfaction, authors Nan Allison, MS, RD, and Carol Beck, MS, explain why avoiding carbohydrates, specific food groups, and certain ‘forbidden’ food backfires. When our body does not get the fuel that it needs we end up binging on it in one way or another. The answer to the arguments that lie within ourselves is truly trusting what we already know- it is just revisiting the wisdom we already had, or have forgotten.
Embrace Your Inner Wisdom
Listening to your inner voice does not mean a junk food fest free-for-all for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Making healthy choices is important, but the more you recognize your senses when feeding your body the right fuel in appropriate portions, often throughout the day, the more your body will thank you and certainly let you know.
You are brilliant!
1. Gast, J., Hawks, S.R. Examining Intuitive eating as a Weight Loss Program. Healthy Weight Journal 2000; (14)3: 33-47.
2. Allison, N., Beck, C. Full and Fulfilled: The Science of Eating to Your Soul’s Satisfaction. AB Books: Nashville, TN; 2000.