QUESTION: Why would I want to practice intuitive eating?
ANSWER: So that you can live with freedom, joy, and peace.
QUESTION: This sounds beautiful, but what do you actually mean by this?
ANSWER: Everyone will experience freedom, joy, and peace in their own unique way. But I want to share three personal examples with you so that you have a better understanding of what your life might look like.
As an intuitive eater, it's possible to enjoy a backyard BBQ without dividing your mental energy between how many calories you’ve just consumed and fulfilling conversations with friends.
You'll know when to order a hamburger and when to order a salad when eating out at a restaurant. HINT: it has nothing to do with the calories listed on the menu.
And here is the UNEXPECTED reason that I find so exciting and can’t wait to share with you.
When you practice intuitive eating, you begin to hear and trust the messages of your soul - the messages that guide your decisions and shape your life.
You become more connected with your overall intuition.
Our bodies try to communicate with us all day long, but as we ignore (and possibly stop hearing altogether) the voice that says, “I’m hungry, eat more,” or, “that pasta looks really satisfying,” we not only dull our intuitive eating voice, but we also simultaneously weaken the whisper of our inner knowing.
It makes sense, right? If your intuitive eating dial is turned way down, it’s very difficult to simultaneously turn up your other intuitive dials. In my experience, they all move in a corresponding direction.
If your intuitive eating dial is turned down, what does this mean for you?
Your life might be heavy with self-doubt, worry, or comparison. You also probably notice an abundance of “shoulds” in your day-to-day. Some of these “shoulds” are related to food, others are not. For example, “I should include more veggies in my meals. I should have a meditation practice. I should be doing something more meaningful with my life.”
This is what I call low-vibe living. It’s when we’re out of touch with and removed from our deepest desires. Low-vibe living leaves you feeling stuck - like you’re wading through molasses. The future seems foggy and unclear. It’s hard to identify what you really want out of life.
I spent many years existing in the shadow of self-doubt, fear, and confusion. I truly believe this started when I stopped trusting and listening to my intuition as it tried to tell me what foods would be satisfying and feel good in my body, how much food would give me physical and mental energy, or when to stop exercising because I was fatigued. I let diet culture dictate these things. As a result, not only did I continue to feel confused about what to eat and how my body should actually look and feel, but I also had no idea what I wanted out of each day, let alone my life. There never seemed to be a clear message. Doubt, fear, and confusion controlled my thoughts and actions, leaving me stuck and with little hope for change - exactly the opposite of a life with peace, joy, and freedom.
So where can you start if you find yourself in a similar situation?
Here are three ways that you can slowly begin to lean into your intuitive eating voice and connect with your body, which is the first step in reconnecting with your soul.
Give yourself permission to feel your hunger, and permission to eat at moderate levels of hunger rather than waiting until hunger is extreme. Diet culture tells us to downplay and ignore hunger for the sake of weight loss. But as registered dietitian, Christy Harrison, says, “Ignoring hunger only tells your body it’s starving. And at a deeper level, ignoring hunger tells your core self that you don’t care about meeting its needs.”
Before each meal or snack, it's okay to practice rating your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not hungry at all and 10 being ravenous). How do the different levels of hunger feel in your body? Do you notice any discomfort or unpleasant symptoms at the more extreme levels of hunger? Where along the hunger scale are you when it feels good to begin a meal or snack? This exercise will help you connect with your unique hunger voice.
Ask yourself what you’re in the mood for right now. What sounds satisfying in this very moment? This question might feel foreign because diet culture and the wellness industry have convinced us that we should make our decisions based on fat grams, sugar, carbohydrates, and calories. Current culture also encourages us to think about what we ate at our last meal or what we plan to eat at our next meal when deciding what to eat right now. This might seem logical, but I invite you to consider this. The diet industry wants us to ignore our food desires and sub in their low fat / 100 calorie alternatives that they are selling. Instead, why not aim to get satisfaction and pleasure out of your meals (which, by the way, has been shown to reduce cravings and binge eating)? As you practice allowing yourself to feel satisfied at mealtime, consider texture, temperature, flavor, volume, and appearance.
Wear clothes that fit and feel good on you. It’s hard to trust your body when it’s clothed in material that’s too small for your current size and shape. In fact, when I attempt to wear something that’s too small or ill-fitting, a little voice inside my head starts to scream, “It’s time for a diet”! Uncomfortable clothing sends messages to the brain that something needs to change. Diet culture tells you that you are the problem and you need to change your body so that it can fit into the clothing, when in fact it’s the clothing’s job to fit you. I invite you to consider donating clothing that doesn’t fit your “right now” body. Feel confident in the fact that everything in your closet makes you feel good both physically and emotionally.