How to become an intuitive eater
If you follow us on the reg, by now you know our stance on diet culture. (If not, read this!)
Hopefully you’re onboard (woohoo!), you’ve told diets to eff off and now you’re ready for what’s next…
I’m sure you have some follow up questions though.
Like... if you’re not on a diet, how do you know what to eat? Or how much? Or even when to eat?
WELL, let me introduce you to intuitive eating, a concept started in 1995 by two dieticians, Evelyn Tribole, RD, and Elyse Resch, RDN.
What is it?
Intuitive eating is… just normal eating guys. The problem is, diet culture has messed us up so much that we’ve lost sight of what normal eating actually is.
Intuitive eating focuses on implementing behaviours rather than imposing limiting rules or restrictions, by teaching us to listen to signals from our body to guide our eating patterns, with the purpose of building a natural, healthy relationship with food and eating.
Why do it?
Athletes and people suffering medical conditions aside, there’s no reason you have to hit an exact amount of calories per day or cut out whole food groups in the pursuit of health, fitness or weight management.
Dieting and diet culture can have such a negative impact on our psychology and our relationships with our bodies and with food, and intuitive eating helps us remove the emotional power that food can have over us.
Dieting puts us in direct conflict with meeting our body’s needs whereas intuitive eating helps us reconnect with the skills we were all born with, to eat when our bodies need nourishment, to stop when we are full and to eat foods that are satisfying.
To be clear, intuitive eating is not a weight loss tool. It is a way of eating that will help bring your body back to balance, back to it’s natural state. For some people this may mean a weight increase, for some it may result in weight loss. We are relying on our bodies to know when we are at our healthiest.
so ask yourself: why would you want to work against your body when you can work with it.
How to begin eating intuitively
Step 1: Chuck diet culture in the bin
First, acknowledge that dieting is not the answer.
If you think about all the diets you’ve been on, were any of them successful? If they were, did you manage to keep the weight off or did you regain it and have to start the entire dieting process again? Was it enjoyable at all?
The truth is, you won’t ever need to diet if you can find a sustainable way of eating that allows you to maintain your healthiest body.
Step 2: Honour your hunger
If you feel hungry, eat. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. I could honestly end it right there.
Usually what tends to happen, is that we feel the need to wait until certain times of the day to eat, even when we’re hungry, and then by the time we’ve waited we become ravenous and end up overeating.
Conversely, you also need to honour when your body is full. Take your time when you’re eating and regularly check in with your body. Look for signals of fullness and satisfaction. If there’s still food on your plate but you’re feeling satisfied, leave it, offer it to someone else or eat the leftovers tomorrow.
It can take time to develop this trust in your body, it goes against most of what we are taught growing up, so don’t expect to perfect this overnight!
Step 3: Give yourself permission to eat
Stop identifying foods as good and bad, nothing is off the menu here!
Pay attention to how the foods you’re eating make you feel, how do they taste? Are they psychologically rewarding? How does your body feel after eating them? Are you energetic, or do you feel flat? Are you suffering digestively?
Create a positive and mindful experience for yourself every time you eat. If you’re always eating on the go, or at your desk at work, you’re not going to be able to stay in tune with the experience, or your feelings of satiety and fullness.
Step 4: Respect your body’s needs
Eating intuitively doesn’t mean eating like an asshole.
Treating yo self means eating foods that will give you pleasure and satisfaction but also treating your body to the foods that will help it function optimally and in turn will make you feel physically well.
Understand your “why” for eating, are you actually hungry or are you thirsty/bored/stressed? These needs would be better met in other ways.