Okay, confession time. I don’t love the phrase “intuitive eating.”
Not because I don’t love the concept—it’s essentially the moderation & flexible dieting philosophy—but because I’m always looking at things through the lens of its teach-ability.
And “intuitive eating” can feel so unreachable and vague to someone who is in the middle of an obsessive relationship with food, that the advice ends up feeling more discouraging than helpful.
If someone had told me to “just eat when you’re hungry” when I was deep in my all-or-nothing dieting phase, I would’ve told them to GET REAL, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHEN I’M HUNGRY! HELP!
Maybe, like I was, you’ve eaten according to a clock (every 2-3 hours) for such a long time, that you’re not in touch with your body’s natural hunger cues anymore. Or maybe you don’t even register your cravings until you’re already elbows-deep in a block of choccie. Or maybe you know that your 2pm energy slump isn’t ideal, but you don’t really know what to do to change it.
Been there, get that 100%.
To me, traditional “dieting” advice makes us stupider. And I say that in the most empathic way considering I was an extreme dieter for a decade. I loved having start dates, and food lists, and an Excel spreadsheet with all of my meals and times mapped out….
Dieting feels good because it feels organized. Rules keep us safe. Giving our process over to a coach or “expert” feels like relief. They know what’s best, right?? And intuitive eating seemingly has no rules. Just listen to my body? Thanks, BUT HOW??
Part of my mission is to help people come to understand, practice and master their eating habits so they can be free to do other, more enjoyable things than just stress about food constantly.
So … how do you eat intuitively?
Today I am going to give you one tool to practice, I’ll tell you this: if you want to eat intuitively, you have to master mindfulness.
And the first step to mindfulness is just starting to become aware of your body’s natural biofeedback—hunger, cravings, fullness, satisfaction, energy, etc. If we want to be able to eat according to these things, we have to start feeling them again.
So, your homework:
Set a timer on your phone for every 3 hours, like this for example;
When the timer goes off, I want you to just ask yourself “On a scale from 1-10, how hungry am I right now?”
There is no right or wrong answer. This is just a practice in checking in. That’s it. For example, “Huh, I’m actually not that hungry, I could wait an hour,” would be a useful insight.
To help myself along, I ask qualifying questions like, how much do I need to eat right now? Am I famished? Could I eat? Could I eat in 30 minutes? Am I not really hungry at all? Etc. These qualifiers help us develop the distinction needed in order to learn how to eventually, eat intuitively.
You don’t have to do this forever, by the way. Mindfulness is one of those things that many of us don’t really have but can be trained fairly quickly with just a little bit of deliberate practice.
That’s it. One simple tool to start. Try it and let me know how you do.