Intuitive eating – the concept of eating what your body tells you to and how much it tells you to – is not just a glamorised diet or trend, it is a way of life. This approach has been proven to help healthy eating habits last in the long run. It can also help free you from the typical “good food, bad food” mindset that so many of us are trapped in.
If you are tired of feeling restricted, guilty, and unsuccessful in your attempts to get healthier, consider trying out the intuitive eating approach using the following steps.
1. Recognise Hunger and Act On It
Letting yourself get too hungry can trigger overeating. Make sure to keep satisfying snacks on hand to eat as needed. Learning to recognise and honor this simple biological signal can help build confidence in the ability to listen to your body.
2. Don’t Villainise Certain Foods
Telling yourself that certain foods or food groups are off limits puts you at risk of failure and guilt. Eating a food you consider “bad” can lead to a binge followed by immense guilt. Rather than labeling “bad” and “good” foods, focus on how everything you eat makes you feel. Try to focus on consuming foods that give you energy, make you feel healthy, and nourish your body.
3. Pay Attention to Your Body’s Signals
One of the most important parts of intuitive eating is listening to your body’s signal that you are full. Take a break mid-meal to assess how you are feeling, if you are enjoying the food, and what your current level of fullness is. Often, it can take 20 minutes for your brain to recognise that you are full. Eating slowly and mindfully will give you the best chance of realising you are full.
4. Have Fun With Exercise
Don’t focus on how many calories you burn or how much you are sweating, just get moving and have fun. Focus on how good it feels to be active and strong. Also, appreciate the energy burst and emotional high that comes from a good workout. Choose activities that are enjoyable or fun such as a brisk walk outside, jumping on the trampoline with your kids, jogging on the beach, or dancing to your favorite songs.
5. Eat for the Right Reasons
Learn to recognise your feelings and honour them without using food. If you are bored, angry, stressed, or lonely, make sure to fill those voids with something other than food. Emotions are a normal part of life, but food cannot fix any of them. It may serve as a short-term distraction but can hurt you in the long run. Instead, find ways to healthy to appease your feelings and only eat for one reason: if you are hungry.
6. Be Gentle and Forgiving With Yourself
Try to make food choices that make you feel good, taste good, and honor your health. However, your body may tell you at times that it needs a cookie, chips, or some other food that has typically been “bad” in your mind. Remember that you do not have to maintain a perfect diet to maintain your health. You will not become deficient in a certain vitamin or gain 10 lbs just from one snack or meal. Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel energetic and healthy. Intuitive eating is about the bigger, long-term picture.