Intuitive eating is an approach to food that strongly emphasizes listening to your body. At its core, intuitive eating involves letting your innate hunger and satiety cues guide your food choices rather than strictly sticking to a restrictive diet regimen. By tuning in to what your body craves and paying attention to how you feel after consuming different foods, you can clearly understand what nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, energetic, and well-nourished.
For many people, intuitive eating is a powerful tool for getting back in touch with their inner wisdom about food, fostering healthier physical and emotional habits. Whether you are looking for sustained weight loss or wish to achieve overall better health, intuitive eating may be just the right approach for you.
If you’re interested in learning how to eat intuitively, here are five steps to get you started:
1. Get rid of the “good” and “bad” food labels.
One of the first steps to eating intuitively is getting rid of the good/bad dichotomy when it comes to food. This black-and-white thinking sets you up for a restrictive, all-or-nothing mindset that can be difficult to break free from. Instead of labeling certain foods as “good” or “bad,” try to think of them in terms of how they make you feel. For example, if you know that eating sugary foods makes you feel sluggish and lethargic, you might want to limit them in favor of foods that make you feel more energized and alert.
2. Honor your hunger cues.
Another important step in intuitive eating is learning to listen to your hunger cues. This means letting go of the idea that there is a “right” time to eat or that you should only eat when you’re hungry. If you’re hungry, feed yourself. Whether it’s a small balanced snack to hold you to your next meal or a second breakfast after your first one didn’t cut it, listen to what your body is asking for and provide it with nutrients.
3. Make peace with food.
To learn how to eat intuitively, making peace with food is essential. This means permitting yourself to eat whatever you want without guilt or shame. It might sound counterintuitive, but often when we try to restrict ourselves, we end up overeating or bingeing on the same foods we were trying to avoid in the first place. When we make peace with food, we take away its power and allow ourselves to eat without stress or anxiety.
4. Respect your fullness cues.
In addition to honoring your hunger cues, it’s also important to respect your fullness cues. This means listening to your body when it’s telling you it’s had enough to eat. It can be helpful to think of fullness on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being starved and 10 being stuffed. Aiming for a 5 or 6 will help ensure you’re neither too full nor too hungry.
5. “All foods fit.”
Last but not least, remember that “all foods fit” into an intuitive eating approach. There are no forbidden foods when it comes to intuitive eating—it’s all about listening to your body and giving it what it wants/needs at the moment. If you’re craving something specific, go ahead and have it.
These tips will allow you to foster a healthy relationship with food in a way that puts you in the driver’s seat, feeling empowered and confident in how to fuel your body well.
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