Chances are, if you’ve been around the healthy-living community for any length of time, you’ve heard phrases like Mindful Eating or Intuitive Eating. Trusting your body. Feeding your hunger. Yada Yada Yada. What the heck does all that mean? Because I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of people who feed their hunger and still aren’t happy with the way things are going with their health or their bodies. So today I want to break it down for you. And I promise you that it can absolutely change your life like it has mine.
Before I tell you what it is, let me first start by telling you how you will benefit from taking on an Intuitive method of eating.
* You won’t feel the need to be on a strict diet.
* You will be able to enjoy the foods you desire.
* Your body will adjust to your new way of eating, and you may even start to see changes in your body without even trying.
* You won’t ever have to worry about what foods are “good” and what foods are “bad.”
* You will be free of the dieting mindset.
More than anything, the number one way Intuitive eating benefits me is the last one I listed.
Freedom from the food battle. Freedom from worrying about what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. Freedom from trying to please those thoughts in my head that told me I could only eat a certain amount of calories a day.
So… What is Intuitive Eating??
* Eating only when you are truly physically hungry.
* Eating slowly, with purpose, and with true intent.
* Paying very close attention to the signals your body is telling you.
That may seem like a simple and short answer to what Intuitive Eating is, and really that is all there is to the principle, but the actual process of getting to the point where you’re being true to your body’s hunger can be a surprisingly difficult process. At the beginning I really struggled with “hearing” what my body was trying to tell me, so I had to take some necessary steps to be sure I was paying attention while I was eating:
* No TV, computer, phones, etc
* SLOW eating. Lots of breaks in between bites so I could listen. Still hungry? Not so hungry anymore?
* Eat in a stress-free environment
* Eat what you truly want (not what your emotions want).
Once I let go of what my mind was telling me to do (ie: only eat x calories a day, eat only certain “good” foods, etc), and put the trust in something that I didn’t have much control over (my body), a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. The process was slow, but it was one that absolutely changed my life.
At the beginning of the process, I had to eat very slow so that I could really “hear” what my body was trying to tell me. Was I really still hungry? Or was I starting to feel satiated? Are those hunger pains? Or am I just bored and in need of something to do? Or am I trying to eat my emotions? Lots of asking myself questions about what my body was really trying to tell me.
One of my biggest concerns going into this process was that I thought I would immediately start gaining weight as soon as I let go of the calorie-counting and restricting/binging cycle. I was completely shocked, but the exact opposite happened. I was actually losing weight! My body was no longer confused and trying to stay on top of the crazy hoops I made it jump through. Before, it was in survival mode half the time while I was restricting heavily, and then as soon as I would binge, it held onto everything I put into it. With Intuitive Eating, my body got exactly what it needed and had no need to hold onto anything extra for the sake of “survival.” It didn’t take long for my body to get used to the fact that I wasn’t going to starve it anymore, so it could use everything for nutrients right away.
My Testimony of How Intuitive Eating Can Change Lives
The combination of exercising regularly, eating the foods that I knew my body needed (as well as indulging with moderation), and truly listening to my body and its needs has been absolutely life-changing for me. The internal battles are gone for the most part. The nagging voices in my head telling me I shouldn’t be eating a certain “bad” food are completely gone. I feel like I have completely gotten my life back.
Handing over the reigns to my body was one of the toughest things I have ever done, but it was also the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Our bodies are designed to work FOR us, not against us. We just have to trust it. And that is probably the thing that most of us struggle with the most. And not only trusting it, but truly LISTENING to it. It takes a lot of concentration, but it is so worth it. I will never look back.