Intuitive Eating: What is It & How It Can Change Your Life
Intuitive eating might sound like a diet gimmick, but it’s actually a powerful eating paradigm that prioritises listening to our bodies innate intelligence, which will tell us everything we need to know about what we need, if we just listen.
By giving your body exactly what it requires each day, you’ll be eating in a much more customised way that deeply nourishes your body and improves your overall health. By becoming more in tune with your body’s needs, you’ll become happier and less anxious too.
It’s not an overnight process by any means. It requires you to retrain your mind and body to act more intuitively and not be shackled by years of dieting and restriction.
Quick fixes got you to a point where you can’t trust your body’s cues anymore, and healing that can take some time but is well worth the effort.
Keep reading to find out exactly what intuitive eating is and how it can truly change your life and your relationship with food.
1. Intuitive Eating: The Anti-Diet
Intuitive eating isn’t the newest diet fad. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “anti-diet” because of how much it differs from typical eating protocols. Intuitive eating is exactly what it sounds like and nothing more; no restrictive food lists, no timed nutrition or calorie counting-- no rules at all, as a matter of fact.
Intuitive eating combines the concept of mindful eating with the act of listening to your body when it comes to choosing what to eat. It’s a philosophy versus a hard and fast diet. Intuitive eating is about recognising and respecting that your body knows when it’s hungry versus full and knows what it needs to fuel it.
By doing exactly what your body wants, you’ll not only develop a much healthier relationship with food and your body but also provide your body with more customised nutrition.
Learn more in 7 Ways to Have a Healthier Relationship With Food.
2. Benefits of Intuitive Eating
The benefits of intuitive eating are both clear and subtle. For starters, your relationship with food improves. It will help curb damaging behaviours like binge eating and overly restrictive dieting. It will also help with food cravings for two reasons:
- You’ll be giving your body more customised nutrition based on what it needs and so cravings subside. .
- You’ll be much more satisfied after meals than before.
It can also lead to weight loss and improved health metrics, including lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, even though intuitive eating isn’t necessarily designed for weight loss. You might also notice that exercise becomes much more enjoyable for you. After all, when you’re not simply trying to burn as many calories as possible, exercise can instead be about feeling strong and healthy.
More benefits of intuitive eating include:
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Improved self esteem
- Weight maintenance
- Increased energy
The most immediate goal of intuitive eating is to retrain your eating habits to be healthier and more individualised. While you might think that you’ll only crave junk food or fast food, your body will actually learn to send you signals for healthy, whole foods. Your body wants you to feel its best, and will quickly get sick of the unhealthy foods when you’re not constantly restricting yourself. You’ll naturally gravitate towards whole, plant-based foods without even trying.
3. How to Eat Intuitively
You’ve probably listened to your intuition before, knowing instinctively when something is right or wrong. Intuitive eating is similar to that: your body will send you signals to help guide you in your eating and all have to do is listen to them. No overthinking it or second guessing yourself, which can be a huge mental relief.
Steps to eat intuitively:
- Learn to distinguish true hunger from when you want to eat out of boredom, stress, or loneliness. Eventually, you’ll be able to truly trust hunger cues and feed your body much more intuitively.
- When you know for sure you’re actually hungry, eat until you’re full and satisfied (without overeating). Remember that it can take up to 20 minutes for your body to recognise what you’ve eaten, so eat slowly and mindfully. Make sure to chew each bite completely before swallowing, to give your digestive system a chance to keep up and to help ensure you’re fully enjoying each bite.
- Try to choose nutrient-dense whole foods that will keep you satisfied much longer while giving your body what it needs.
It helps to eat at a dinner table without distractions like the television or checking your email. After all, it’s hard to listen to the signals your body is sending you if you’re multitasking. Be truly present with your food and use all your senses with it.
4. Making a Mental Shift
It’s almost impossible to make the switch to intuitive eating overnight. It requires a gradual mental shift from everything we’ve learned about food and eating. You’ll need to get rid of the idea of a quick fix or eating for a certain weight goal, and instead embrace your hunger and hunger cues and learn how to satisfy your body.
Your goal should no longer be to look a certain way, but to feel as healthy and nourished as possible. This can be a drastic shift from what we’ve done our entire lives, so it can take time.
Try to stop thinking negatively or positively about certain foods and approach eating from a non-judgmental place. There aren’t “bad” foods anymore, just foods that are less nutrient-dense and that don’t satisfy you as much. You’re also no longer “bad” or “good” for eating a certain way.
With emotional eating gone, you may also have to learn a new, healthier way to deal with emotions rather than treating them with food, which can be incredibly challenging for some. Some tips include:
- Taking a walk to distract yourself when you feel the need to soothe with food
- Exercising through the feelings or stress
- Calling or meeting a friend for coffee and support
- Meditating on your thoughts
This mental shift requires practice but it can and will happen. You’ll feel so much more free and in control, no longer governed by your emotions and your previous eating habits.
Learn more in What is Emotional Eating and How to Stop It.
Our Pulse Sacred Meal can help you eat more intuitively. As a complete raw whole food, it will nourishes you without any guesswork, crushes hunger and keeps you satisfied.
Eating intuitively doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’s certainly not a new diet trend to shed 10 kilos quickly. It’s a lifestyle and it’s designed to heal your relationship with food for good.
When in doubt shift your focus to the variety and colour that nature's table provides. Go to your local farmer's markets and see the array of whole food on display. Choose those food and colours that appeal to you and make them part of your diet.
Lastly, ditch fad diets and calorie counting. Self Care is an intuitive practice that serves you best when you keep things simple, get back to nature and do the little things right on a daily basis. That's where true health and lasting wellness comes from.
Tolman Self Care.