I learned how to eat intuitively about four years ago and it completely changed my whole world for the better (literally, life is way better). I now teach intuitive eating as a health coach because I don’t want anyone to have to deal with restrictive diets again! And I want everyone to feel this same freedom I feel around food that I had never felt before.
Often times when I say the term “intuitive eating,” people give me that smile and nod that tells me they have no idea what I’m talking about. So I go on to explain that it’s the idea of eating what you want without restriction and tuning into to your body to figure out what it needs.
Many people hear “eating what you want” and think if they were to eat what they want all the time, they would eat only junk food all the time. Surprisingly enough, that is not the case (at least not for me and all of the women I work with). Of course, the first few weeks, I had an ice cream and bread feeding frenzy. But after the initial excitement wore off, I didn’t want it all the time. I started eating healthy foods because I wanted to feel good, but still had the freedom to order dessert whenever I darn pleased! This is the best combination ever, and this is what I want teach every woman that is even thinking about hopping on the diet bandwagon.
With that, I thought I would tell you a bit about what intuitive eating means to me so you can decide if this is something that is right for you. I’ve read all the books on this subject matter, and I’ve come up with a simple way to break it down into four parts. So let’s discuss the four elements you need to do in order to become an intuitive eater:
Let go of restriction.
This is the most important lesson of intuitive eating in my opinion. In order to truly become and intuitive eater, you have to let go of your thoughts around certain foods. All food needs to become neutral. We have learned so much conflicting information around food, why some foods are “good” and some foods are “bad” but you need to get back to the state of mind that food is food. From there, you get to decide what food you want to eat.
The reason I find this so important is because so many people eat what they think they “should” eat even though they don’t necessary want to eat it. This leaves a person unsatisfied with what they are eating, which is no fun and isn’t beneficial. And on the other hand, people try to stay away from eating something they deem as “bad,” causing guilt and shame when inevitably eating that food, which is also not fun or beneficial.
When those food stories pop into your head (i.e. carbs are bad, don’t eat meat, that has too many calories), let them go. Try living life with food being food for a change and tune into your new discoveries. You may realize you don’t even like donuts and prefer a nice piece of chocolate instead. You may also discover you hate kale, but you love Swiss chard.
Love and respect your body.
Dieting often stems from a desire to change your figure. This desire to change your body often times leads to disliking your body. When you dislike your body, it’s easy to treat your body as if you dislike her. You know how hard it is to be nice to someone you don’t like, and the same goes for your body.
But your body does so many amazing things for you! And a way to start loving your body is noticing and respecting that. And when you start to notice how amazing she is, you will start to treat her in the same way because you want to keep her happy, just like you would a loved one.
Some examples of this are talking nicely to your body, clothing your body with pretty and comfortable clothing, feeding your body nourishing food that gives her the energy and nutrients she needs, and moving your body in a way that feels good.
Once you start respecting and loving your body, it’s so much easier to choose foods that also love and respect your body.
Punishing ourselves on a regular basis in order to get the results we want is not always the best way to get the results we want. Have you ever had a really nice and encouraging teacher that has supported you every step of the way and helped you actually enjoy the process of learning?
Think of that teacher as self-care. You need to add different forms of self-care into your everyday life in order to be your best self and enjoy life starting now, not when you are your dream weight.
This means taking yourself out on fun dates, knowing what you need when you’ve had a bad day, booking regular body care appointments that make you happy (massage, acupuncture, nails), knowing when to say no, and generally just getting to know yourself super well so you can allow the unique and perfect YOU to shine through.
Find the right foods for you
The first three steps are so important to master before you can move onto this step, otherwise you might treat it like a diet.
Once you have mastered them, you can start finding what foods work best for your body. After weeks of eating a lot of bread and ice cream when I first started intuitive eating, I noticed a needed a nap every afternoon and I had a pimples all over my face. Neither of which I wanted as part of my everyday life, so it was time to play around to see what was the culprit.
This is what you can do too. Reduce your intake of certain foods to see if you feel better without them, or add certain foods in to see if you feel better with them. You do it out of a place of curiosity and love for your body – you want her to function in the best way possible. Think of it as an experiment, with different hypotheses (i.e. I think dairy causes me to breakout), and see what the result is. It’s so much easier to now reduce my dairy intake than ever before now that I know the direct effect it has on my body, rather than someone telling me I shouldn’t eat it.
Those are the four simple steps, but the hardest part is putting them into action and being supported along the way. Which is why I’m hosting a free 3-Day Food Freedom Challenge so you can start eating your cake without guilt and enjoying salads just because.