10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Start Intuitive Eating
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating can seem daunting at first, and it’s difficult to know where to start. Below you’ll find 1 action you can do today that will help you quickly begin each principle of Intuitive Eating.
1 – Ditch the scale.
And while you’re at it, get rid of the diet cookbooks, fitness apps, food logs, food scales, and calorie counters. These are subtle ways that we stay rooted in diet culture, especially since they’re so popular to have and talk about. When we eliminate these external sources of control, we take back our own power over our relationship with food and our bodies. Check out 5 things to keep in mind when you ditch the scale.
2 – Put some easy snacks in your bag or backpack, or whatever you bring with you to work/school/play.
We never quite know when we will feel that first twinge of hunger because hunger is affected by soooo many factors. Living busy lives, it’s important to have nourishment that is portable. Fortunately, there are many snack options that keep well. Try making your own trailmix with nuts, chocolate, and fruit, or pick up some of your favorite crackers and peanut butter. Your local grocery likely has snack options that are already prepared to be convenient on-the-go as well.
3 – Get a pen and paper and make a list of foods that you do not allow yourself to eat.
This can be a challenge, but remember this is not a space to judge yourself. Reflect with honesty on the foods you avoid and list them as specifically as possible. For instance, if you have actively refused (God forbid!) to have jars of peanut butter in your house because you fear you’ll eat the whole jar (been there), make note of the product and the brand. Let this activity first be an eye-opener. Get curious about why these foods are challenging for you. If feeling up for it, choose one or two and make a point to have it this week.
4 – Start a list of food rules you (un)consciously live by.
Again, no judgment here. Do you only allow yourself dessert on holidays? Do you not allow yourself to eat after 8pm? Do you tell yourself not to eat carbs? Do you only eat X if you’ve moved your body with Y? Honesty is your friend here as well. These are the patterns and processes keeping your relationship with food a toxic one. When you’re aware of the rules, you might start to think of breaking them.
5 – Before your next meal or snack, consider what texture, temperature, color, aroma, crunch factor, and flavor would be really satisfying in the moment.
Satisfaction is considered the backbone of intuitive eating. If we are not satisfied by our meal/snack, we will likely look for something else or feel that we need another form of comfort. Our hunger needs constantly change and our bodies are wise enough to know what foods would meet our needs best. But we won’t meet those needs unless we do a little leg work, taking a pause to consider types of foods and how they will hit all 5 senses.
6 – During your next meal/snack, pause at some point and check in with your stomach and sense of fullness
This takes practice, but our body is able to send us some signals that let us know when we’ve eaten enough. You might notice a swelling of your stomach area, or you might feel bored with the meal, or you might note a reduced sense of urgency. Take a few moments to ask yourself how you’re doing. If you’re not full, by all means keep eating.
7 – Try a new self-care activity
Our overall wellness is so tied to our mental health. Sometimes food is a comfort, and that’s okay. Sometimes our emotional needs are better served with another action though. Some suggestions: read a new book, listen to a podcast, color, knit, play a new video game, have a cup of tea while wrapped in a blanket, journal, give yourself a hug, try yoga, listen to a favorite playlist, go outside, take photos, bathe! Want to try a new book about intuitive eating?
8 – List 5 ways in which your body has helped you today
Each day you’re alive your body is on your team. Whether it’s allowing yourself to feel the warmth of a partner next to you in the morning, or propelling you through a busy work day, or letting you feel peaceful on the couch while you watch (endless episodes of Gilmore Girls) TV. Your eyes let you see beautiful flowers on a walk. Your legs are your mode of transportation through a new park. Your skin is soaking up sweet rays of sun. Your tongue gives you the experience of your favorite dessert. Your body is showing up every day.
9 – Move your body in a new way
If you always move your body in the same way, maybe in a very rigid or structured way, mix it up. There are so many ways to move that do not involve a gym, weights, sports, or, frankly, sweating and competition. You might enjoy gardening, Frisbee golf, stretching with a video, walking up and down a hill, archery, hiking, or flying a kite. It’s possible also that for you, rest is new, and that’s also worth exploring.
10 – Get comfortable asking yourself “How does this meal feel in my body right now?”
We do want our bodies to be healthy and function, at whatever size they fall into. This means we want to be aware of our nutrition needs, and to gently allow ourselves to make nutritious choices. This does not mean that we need to eat at least one Instagram-worthy, colorful, perfect meal per day. There are a variety of ways we can get the proper array of nutrients we need, merely by considering what we can ADD rather than SUBTRACT. Asking how you are feeling after a meal could reveal that you needed a little more whole grains for digestion, or maybe you’re noting that pesto doesn’t feel good in your stomach. Whatever the message, record it as data, and consider it the next time. Working with a dietitian trained in Intuitive Eating is also super helpful.
Practicing the ideas in this Intuitive Eating Quick Guide will allow you greater food freedom.
If you’re curious and looking for more help,