Intuitive eating (IE) is a philosophy or practice that is drive by an individual’s body and personal eating habits. Even if you are unfamiliar with the term, you may be practicing IE unconsciously. Unlike labeled diets and fads, intuitive eating does not include following certain restrictions. This practice allows individuals full freedom over their eating choices. Here is our breakdown of what IE is and how to fit it into your lifestyle.
The basics of intuitive eating
At its core, IE promotes eating when you are hungry and listening to your body when it is full. This can be easier for some and not others. Unlike diets, intuitive eating does not provide guidelines for how, when and what to eat. For example, on the paleo diet you are unable to eat products that include dairy, sugar, grains and even legumes. In contrast, adopting an intuitive eating perspective allows all foods to fit for all sorts of people.
The difficulty behind this is that you are the sole decider of what to consume. This means trusting your body and hunger signs completely. As a result, someone who follows IE has the freedom to choose what and when to eat. To achieve this, listening to your body is key.
For starters, you have to identify and listen to your body’s hunger signs. The signs are not universal amongst everyone but can include (and are not limited to):
- Feeling of an empty stomach
- Growling or grumbling from stomach
- Feeling light-headed, dizzy or fatigued
- Physical weakness
- Feeling agitated, grumpy, irritable
Secondly, IE allows someone to honor their cravings. Is your body telling you to eat more veggies? Are you hungry for a high-protein meal? The beauty of IE is that nothing is off limits. You have complete control over what to fuel your body with. Again, this is easier said than done for some people. Intuitive eating is by no mean easy to adopt but there are small steps that can lead you in the right direction.
How to eat intuitively
There are a few tips and tricks to begin your intuitive eating journey. There are some standard or basic tips but you will also find there are practices that will work for you personally.
Here are some standard tricks:
Find peace with yourself and your relationship to food.
The hardest but most important step to an IE journey is finding peace and acceptance within yourself and how to see food. One way to do this is to reject fads and diets that shame people into conforming to certain body standards. Breaking away from the cycle of comparison and forming habits of self-love is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this promotes a healthy and guilt-free relationship with food. After all, food is how we fuel ourselves!
Understand the differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger.
These two different types of hunger are exactly as they sound. Emotional eating involves eating based off of your emotional state: boredom, stress, sadness, anger. At times like this, you are not necessarily eating based off of your physical hunger. Instead, you are turning to food based off of your emotional state. This can be an exceptionally difficult practice to break and requires you to listen actively to your body.
Start with what you’re comfortable with.
If you want to adopt the practices of IE but struggle with certain foods, that is okay! We recommend starting from a place you are most comfortable. If you feel comfortable eating a specific food but not another, don’t push yourself too fast or too far.
By eating what your body wants and what you are comfortable with, you will begin to find an open and honest relationship with food. As a result, you can begin to work on eating and enjoying foods you once struggled with. The beauty of intuitive eating is that you can start where you are most comfortable and grow from there. IE allows all foods to fit and denounces restrictions – it’s all about tuning into what you and your body need.
Intuitive eating is a great place to start when you are ready to mend your relationship with food. If you have or are struggling with food freedom, IE gives you the space to find what works best for you. By rejecting diet culture, you are opening yourself up to food freedom and non-restricted ways of eating. Adopting intuitive eating practices will open possibilities of feeling comfortable with food! The opportunities are endless when eating intuitively.