Intuitive eating has been making a strong appearance in my life. I had convinced myself that I didn’t fully understand what it meant to eat intuitively and that I couldn’t really recall a time where I had actually eaten what my body was asking me to (i am not talking about that piece of cake type of experience!).
A diet will not be healing if it is mentally restrictive over a long period of time.
Intuitive eating is much more basic than I had made it out to be. Intuitive eating is different for every person. Everyone’s lives, bodies, habits, and pasts are different, so what works for me may not work for you. But my understanding of intuitive eating is based off of something very simple and – well – intuitive: how food makes you feel.
Intuitive eating is when you eat what your body asks you too.. even if you feel that the “item” doesn’t fit your new diet experiments. The cravings are wise, and when we fuel our body with the right nourishment it will give us back tenfold!! You will have more energy, feel better in your skin, think clearer, and so many other good things! Our body, beauty and mind work together synergistically - when you truly begin to trust your instincts and respect your true choices your relationship with food will change in a profound way. And this will reflect in your physically body, hence the true meaning of glowing from the inside out.
When I eat not holding onto feelings of deprivation and regret, but instead am filled with a sense of nourishment that extends from my body into my spirit, that’s me eating intuitively.
Here’s how I learned to turn intuitive eating into a lifestyle:
Turn up the volume on your hunger levels. When your body starts to feel depleted of nutrients and energy, it signals the brain that it’s hungry. Suppressing this natural instinct quickly puts you at risk for binge-eating later on in order to provide your body with a “quick-fix” to its problem. Your body has no rules for when you can eat and when you can’t – those are in your head – so shut them off for the day, and turn up the volume on your body’s voice. It will tell you when it’s fine and when it needs sustenance to keep it feeling strong. Both signals are just as important to listen to.
Hydrate. So many times I find myself standing in front of my refrigerator for minutes on end, the cold air spilling into the kitchen as I survey its contents over and over. If you are having a hard time distinguishing what you want, pour yourself a glass of water or a cup of tea. Whether you’re thirsty or not, take this time to let go of any preoccupations you had about your meal or snack. You can always revisit it later.
Get back to the basics. Whenever I commit myself to eating what my body is calling me too, everything slows down and something magical happens – I remember how to eat. I don’t have to worry about what I think my next meal should be, what I want my next meal to be, and what to do when they inevitably don’t lead me to the same thing. Instead, I trust that I will love the food, that it will love me back, and that I will leave with this feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that gives me a sense of vibrancy from the inside out. When you eat clean, whole, simple foods, this simplicity seeps into the rest of your life and all of the emotions attached to your eating habits begin to loosen their grip and fade away.
Notice how you feel after you eat certain foods – both the good and the bad. Integrate this project into your daily life for however long it serves you. Whenever you eat a food, notice how it makes you feel 10 minutes later…3 hours later…the next day. Write it down. Does it affect your mood, energy-levels, or skin? Do you feel bloated or famished within the hour, or light and strong? Do you feel overcome with anger and anxiety, or love and satisfaction? There are several complicated and interrelated factors that determine the way a food will affect you and it’s important to play around with it to see which foods do good in your body and your life.
Move your body. Moving your body everyday helps strengthen your connection to your body and to that good feeling that you want to maintain. Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, which can also trigger emotional eating, so take some time to elevate the level of endorphins in your brain, reconnect to feeling alive and powerful, and move your body! It’s easy to stress about how, where, and when, but try and connect to the activity itself. Don’t sweat just to sweat. Sweat to get some fresh air, to engage your breathing, to spend time with a loved one, to feel strong.
Make gentle changes. With intuitive eating, no foods go on a good list and no foods go on a bad list. Putting foods off limits gives them power, resulting in a sense of powerlessness when we give in to them later on. Instead, make an effort to fill your life with those foods that leave you feeling light & bright, strong & empowered. The more you eat these foods, the more you will crave them and the way they make you feel.
Breathe. When we commit to a ridged, lofty idea of intuitive eating, it often backfires and leads to obsessing. I have no idea what my body is craving, so whatever I choose to eat will be wrong. Of course I cannot sit down before a meal and figure out exactly what my body needs, what my mind is craving, what my emotions are feeling, and how to reconcile the three. Bring everything together here. Think simple, think basic, think clean. Think foods that will leave both your spirit and your body satisfied, that will leave you feeling both strong and light. I don’t sit down before every meal and close my eyes so that I can figure out what I want. I sit down before every meal and close my eyes so I can start to let everything go. I sit up straight, rest my hands on my thighs, palms face up, and relax my shoulders done my back. Naturally, my breaths start to deepen. I elongate my inhales just as much as my exhales. I choose a mantra and I breathe it in with every inhale:
I release all that does not serve my highest good
And slowly…I start to let go…