Due to the amazing response on my last photo posted on Facebook, I feel the need to give you guys more information regarding intuitive eating!
Here are my top steps to becoming an intuitive eater:
1.) First read the book. It’s called Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole and its LIFE CHANGING. Order it here: AND READ IT!
2.) Start by letting go of the weight loss. Intuitive eating is not a diet and I can’t guarantee you will lose weight. If you are overweight and struggle with binge eating it’s very likely that you will lose weight, but if you are very underweight and suffer from restriction you may gain weight to reach a happy set point. You need to let go completely of this “ideal body” you have in your head and realize that your happiness and freedom needs to come FIRST! This is key. You can’t go into intuitive eating looking to lose weight because then you will always be unconsciously restricting yourself, which defeats the purpose.
So chuck out the scales and remember: you are focussing on happiness, and food freedom.
3.) Now for the fun part. Make a list of alllll the foods you’ve been holding back from enjoying for so long (or find yourself binging on). My list was things like ice-cream, chocolate, peanut butter cups, cookies, restaurant meals, burgers, french fries, deep fried foods etc. You also need to start breaking down all your food “rules” that you may have. You may not even realize how many there truly are! Some examples of mine were only eating at certain designated meal or snack times, never eating the same thing twice in a day, obviously avoiding a lot of sugar, junk food, anything liquid that wasn’t water, etc. ”
4.) Now start breaking those food rules and eating the foods you’ve been avoiding! You can do this in stages if you want. You could buy one thing a week and try it out and see how it feels. And when I say go out and eat- I don’t mean buy a tub of ice-cream and sit down and eat the entire thing in one sitting! You are about to get a lot more in tune with your body.
5.) First thing is to start recognizing hunger signals. This can be quite difficult at first as most of us either ignore hunger signals until they become quit blunted (ie: skipping meals all the time and then not feeling hunger) or overeating a lot and always feeling full. At first I was constantly checking in with myself and asking “am I hungry, or thirsty? or bored? or sad?” I would commonly wait to make sure I was truly hungry. One quote that stuck with me was “Being hungry is like being in love. If you aren’t sure- you probably aren’t”.
6.) When you are truly hungry, then you get decide what are you hungry for? Do you feel like a snack, or a meal? Are you craving something hot or cold, salty or sweet, crunchy or creamy? Really check in and visualize what it is you want. I love this part!
7.) Try your best to make each meal or snack an experience. Sit down, without distractions, and enjoy every bite. Savour that chocolate cake, or delicious pasta- every bite! Put it on a pretty plate, light a candle, really just experience the meal. Doing this really adds to the satisfaction of it which helps you connect with yourself and reduces cravings. Think about it- when you rush through a meal scrolling through your phone or answering emails and then look down and the meal is gone- did you derive any satisfaction from that meal? You’ve gotta tune in!
8.) Stopping when you feel satisfied. This took me soooo long to learn. It’s super hard. I seriously did not know how much food I needed, and I still struggle with this. I always used to base my meals off a certain calorie count and I just ate the entire meal always- I was so bad at sharing!! I was not sharing a single of my “allotted” calories with anyone. The thought of leaving food on a plate was so foreign to me it was insane.
Start checking in with yourself throughout the meal- is this still tasting delicious? How is my hunger levels now? Do I need to eat a little bit more to feel satisfied or can I stop here? The part that helped me the most was remembering that I can always go back and enjoy some more later if needed. This is something super important to remember about intuitive eating: NO FOOD IS OFF LIMITS. There are no good or bad foods. Constantly reminding yourself of this makes being able to stop easier- because you don’t have that panicked feeling of “Omg I need to wait another week for a cheat meal or a glass of wine” and therefore eat until way past fullness and completely stuffed. You can have another bite of cake in an hour if you want!
9.) Letting go of the GUILT. If you have been on lots of diets and food restrictions, you may feel guilt initially when allowing yourself all of these “junk” foods. (By the way- stop with the labels.. there are no good or bad foods. Food is food.) I still have problems with guilt that leads me to binge eat on certain foods. It’s quite hard being a nutritionist/trainer that says “sure, eat that ice-cream that is full of sugar and not in any way nutritious!” BUT the reason I want my clients to find that freedom is because one you start allowing yourself everything and listening to your body- those foods lose their allure. You know if you’ve ever started a diet- whatever isn’t “allowed” immediately becomes this shining ray of light that you immediately crave. WHAT IF EVERYTHING WAS ALLOWED? What would you truly crave? You would crave the stuff that makes you feel amazing, energetic, happy, and healthy- while still enjoying the stuff that makes you feel not so great in smaller amounts because.. well, it doesn’t make you feel great.
10) REALLY TUNE IN. I found initially I was very disconnected from my body. I didn’t know what true hunger felt like, or satisfaction. I had about 2 levels- starving or STUFFED. I didn’t know what foods made me feel good- I only knew what foods would make me skinny and thats all I cared about. I didn’t even know what I even LIKED to eat. Who knew lean cuisine’s actually taste disgusting and don’t satisfy me in any way at all? Do I even like milk chocolate or ice-cream that much (answer: yes.. for the most part haha).
I would really pay attention to how I felt during and after a meal. Do I feel ready to tackle the world- energized and light and happy? Or do I feel like taking a nap and crawling back into bed? When you actually pay attention to the sugar crash happening – it doesn’t seem so appealing anymore!
I started figuring out the foods I loved to eat and made me feel happy. No calories, restrictions, counting, or measuring needed. Just your body.
11.) TRUST your body. Seriously. It really knows whats up. It knows exactly how much food you need. Guess what- your body doesn’t want to be overweight and unhealthy. Hence why when you gain weight or eat an excess of calories for a longer period of time your metabolism increases to make up for this shift. And when you lose too much weight and starve yourself your body takes care of that too by going into hibernation mode, slowing down metabolism and storing fat. It’s interesting noting from day to day how much your hunger increases or decreases. Super tough HIIT workout and weights will definitely stoke my metabolism and have me eating a little more. Sometimes this can be hard to accept- “I just did all that work at the gym and now I’m eating more??”. THIS IS A GOOD THING. Your body needs to fuel to build muscle and give you energy to go about your day. I love eating- so the hardest days for me are ones where I don’t feel hungry- like when I’m studying all day or just working from my computer. I don’t need as much food and I find myself thinking “really am I not hungry yet???” Trust the process! Start living your REAL life instead of living your life around food.
12.) Enjoy the process. Learn how to cook, enjoy eating out, get that delicious mid afternoon cupcake if you want it. PAY ATTENTION before, during and after the meal- eat mindfully. I found initially when I really craved something, after the first few bites it didn’t taste as amazing anymore and I was satisfied. I didn’t need to eat the whole bowl of ice-cream, I could always go back later if I wanted. Are those handful of chocolate chips standing in the pantry really satisfying you? Or are you craving a delicious piece of chocolate cake eaten at the actual table and enjoyed?
So, I encourage you to start trying out these steps. There is WAY more info in the book and these were the steps crucial to my success. Also- there is no right and wrong way to eat intuitively. You’ll figure it out along the way. I still eat meals distracted (more that I’d like) and I still overeat on things. It’s been a long learning process but once you start getting the hang out it, you life becomes truly amazing and blissful.
Hope you enjoyed this post! xx