In terms of mindfulness practices, intuitive eating is something that isn’t talked about often enough, but really should be.
What is intuitive eating? Rather than adhering to a diet or style (veganism, vegetarianism, paleo etc), intuitive eating is a philosophy that involves listening to your body and honoring its needs. Intuitive eating is greatly based on feeling rather than following certain rules, and restrictions.
In our modern society, it seems as though there is a new diet fad or newly discovered food allergy more and more often. This has spurred an influx of different diets that many blindly adhere to—which may not be the best for the body, and could actually make you malnourished if not done properly.
Intuitive eating isn’t about eating whatever you crave, it is about giving your body what it needs and knowing what that is. It also isn’t intended for weight loss specifically. Intuitive eating can help you lose weight potentially, but the main goal is to listen to your body and what makes it feel good.
3 Steps to Replace Dieting with Intuitive Eating for Better Health
1. Observe the Gut
With the various food allergies that we’ve developed with our modern diet, it is all too easy to consistently eat something that your body doesn’t agree with, without even knowing it. Even small discomfort is a sign that something isn’t sitting right. Pay attention to how you feel after eating something and honor the messages that your body is sending you—even if it’s a message that ice cream no longer feels good or that pasta makes you feel uncomfortable and bloated. These messages are your gut’s way of sending messages to the brain that something is not right, and nourishing your body with the right nutrients is the best solution.
This first step is the hardest because we are creatures of habit, and cutting out delicious and favorite foods is never easy, especially if they bring us emotional comfort. But by opening up the line of communication and strengthening the mind-body connection, you are giving a voice to the needs of your body and not denying any discomfort you’re feeling.
2. Drop the Diet Mentality
Throw out your fad-diet books, stop googling “trim belly fat fast,” and work towards consistency rather than crash diets. Your body knows exactly what it needs to achieve homeostasis and by allowing those desires to speak to you, you can create a flow of consistency that is much easier to maintain than keeping up with the latest diet sweeping the country. When you live with a diet mentality, you send messages to your brain that you are not only inadequate now, but that you are never going to be good enough.
Focus on creating a diet that isn’t geared towards specifically losing weight, but rather finding the foods that make you feel good and release you from the gripping fear and mentality of lack that dieting creates.
3. Stop When You’re Full
It may be difficult to notice when you’ve had enough, but this is when listening to your body—and not the cravings of your mind—really begins to be a practice. Between reasonable portion control and practicing not overeating, stopping when you are full won’t happen overnight but it is one of the most empowering practices in intuitive eating.
If you stop eating before you feel full, then you can get a true gauge on how much food it takes (on average) to sufficiently fill you up and give your body and mind the necessary nutrients. This can also help you realize that the amount of food you’ve been eating has been too much or too little. You don’t need to count calories or weigh your food—simply slow down, tune in, and respond to the messages your body is sending. Additionally, creating boundaries between your emotions and the refrigerator will empower you more than an entire pizza ever could.
Intuitive eating, while incredibly empowering and strengthening, is not the easiest road to take at first. It requires reprogramming your brain to ignore unhealthy cravings and habits and raise the voice of your intuition to be the most audible voice you hear. Intuitive eating does not mean that you can’t give in to cravings from time to time either—your body is asking for certain foods for a reason, afterall. Just be sure to monitor your intake and the reasons you are being called to a craving.
Eventually, you will begin to translate these needs and understand when and why your body calls for specific nutrients. You’ll also be able to catch your brain in an old habit of asking for ice cream when you’re sad or bored on the couch with a new TV series.
Go easy on yourself through this process and don’t be hard on yourself when you slip. Change takes time, determination, and a lot of grace. You are absolutely capable of making this change happen and aligning your needs with your actions to feel better and more you!
To your radiant health!