We’ve all probably heard the term “intuitive eating” by now, but what does it mean? It’s actually very simple. Intuitive eating means listening to and trusting your body to tell you when it’s hungry, what it’s hungry for, and when it’s had enough. It also means getting rid of the guilt.
We can go back to the definition of intuition for more clarity:
the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
“we shall allow our intuition to guide us”
- a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.
The key words here are “without the need for conscious reasoning.” I have often found myself questioning my hunger and fullness cues rather than instinctively trusting my body, and it all goes back to overthinking (the source of most of my anxieties).
Eat what you want, not what you think you should have.
Trust your body. Don’t go for what you think the “healthier” option is if it’s not what you want. An important aspect of recovery is being able to enjoy meals. Your body knows what it needs. When we listen to it and satisfy those cravings, we are actually less likely to overeat! This breaks the cycle of bingeing and restricting.
Many restaurants in the U.S. post calorie counts on the menu, which can get in the way of intuitive eating. Try to have an idea of what you want before you walk in. Order before you even have a chance to compare calorie counts. If you want a chicken biscuit with honey (my favorite breakfast option from a popular fast-food chain), don’t go for the egg-white english muffin. Chances are it will hold you over longer because you will feel satisfied.
Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
Satiety is the goal here. When we give our body what it needs, we feel sated. When we feel sated, we have the focus and energy to do the things we need to do. Mealtimes become simpler and less stressful when we listen to our bodies. There really is no need to count calories–it’s unnatural.
It’s all about knowing yourself.
When we get in touch with ourselves and what we need—physically, intellectually, and emotionally—and commit to meeting those needs, we are on the path to wholeness.
Mindfulness is a great tool to help us get in touch with ourselves. Knowing our personal hunger cues is, too. Sometimes when we’re under a lot of stress our systems get confused. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop and take four deep breaths. Re-asses how you’re feeling. Ask yourself, “what do I need right now?” and do your best to meet that need. Maybe you need a nap, or to take a break, or maybe a few hundred calories.
Personally, I tend to suppress my hunger when I’m stressed or excited, sometimes without even knowing it. This is when I need to step away and get in tune with my body. Our stomachs and our heads are connected for our benefit—not to do us harm.
Take care of yourself. When we choose to listen to our bodies instead of our inner critic, the disorder doesn’t know what to do.
Disclaimer: Content on this website is not intended to treat or diagnose any illness. I cannot offer the counsel of a registered dietician, nutritionist, doctor or therapist. This is simply what has worked for me.