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What ACTUALLY IS Intuitive Eating?

I’m constantly talking about how I’m an intuitive eater and how it’s changed my life. You’ve probably heard me talk about the different principles of intuitive eating and you may understand bits and pieces of the concept. But, intuitive eating can SEEM overwhelming at first. I know, because when I first starting trying to eat […]

I’m constantly talking about how I’m an intuitive eater and how it’s changed my life. You’ve probably heard me talk about the different principles of intuitive eating and you may understand bits and pieces of the concept. But, intuitive eating can SEEM overwhelming at first.

I know, because when I first starting trying to eat intuitively, it felt like I was climbing an uphill battle. This post is filled with the basics of intuitive eating, as well as what you can expect if you’re new to intuitive eating.

Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full and satisfied but not uncomfortable.
This is a super important aspect of intuitive eating. Using the hunger fullness scale, you want to aim to eat when you’re at a 3-4 and stop eating when you’re at a 7-8. For more on the hunger fullness scale, check out this post on the basics.

Do not restrict anything you eat!
This means that for other than for medical reasons, no foods are off limits! You actually can eat whatever you want whenever you want it.

Stop labeling foods as “good” and “bad.”
If you want to give intuitive eating a real shot, you need to let go of the food police. Food does not have moral value. All food fuels for our bodies with energy. Labeling foods gives us food guilt, which ironically often leads to overeating followed by restriction which resets the diet cycle.

Honor your emotions without using food.
This means being conscious of bored eating, stress eating, lonely eating etc. Food cannot solve any of these problems for us. Though it may make us feel good in the short term, in the long term emotional eating will only make us feel worse!

Be kind to yourself.
This is not the hunger fullness diet. Intuitive eating should not be restrictive in any way and it should not induce guilt. If it does, be mindful that you may be turning this into another diet.

Fuel your body with gentle nutrition.
This means being conscious of nutrient density. Aim to eat more nutrient dense foods in a LESS restrictive way. It’s okay to eat ice cream. But when you listen to your body, it probably wants some kale too.

If you want to learn about the principles of Intuitive Eating in depth, I highly recommend you read the book that started this movement.

If you’re ready to make a serious change in your relationship with food and your body, here are some things to expect (or not expect):

  1. Don’t expect change to happen overnight. You are retraining your brain to let go of everything diet culture has been telling you for years.
  2. You are NOT letting yourself go, though it may feel like it in the beginning. I find that most of my clients have a much healthier diet when eating intuitively. But, this initial phase when they drop all restriction, usually leads to overindulging in goodies that have been “off-limits” for years. This is short term. Once your body trust that you can really eat that cake if you want it, it ironically doesn’t want the cake as often.
  3. Don’t EXPECT to lose weight, but understand that you may lose weight if your body needs to. Everyone’s bodies are different. Some people need to gain weight, others stay the same weight and others lose weight. However, I do find that those who are stuck in a diet cycle and constantly binge or overeat, may lose weight since there will be less of these episodes with intuitive eating. What’s most ironic about this is if you are still trying to lose weight, you won’t be able to truly eat intuitively. So throw away the scale and shift your focus to the way your body feels not the way it looks. I promise you’ll thank me later.

If you have any questions about my intuitive eating journey or intuitive eating in general, I’m always happy to help!

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