Intuitive eating is a nutritional philosophy that puts emphasis on how your body feels and how to identify when you are truly hungry. People who practice intuitive eating don’t keep track of calories – they simply eat based on what their body is telling them. Intuitive eating may sound hokey but it’s an amazing thing when you can start to identify what your body is telling you. For example, most women will see an increase in appetite and cravings around their time of the month, I don’t always give in to cravings but I do follow what my body is telling me and eat bigger meals or have snacks (which is not something I normally do). Eating bigger portions every once in a while can help keep your metabolism on its toes. Plus being on your period is exhausting so it’s ok to eat a little more to give you some extra energy to help keep you going. We also need to start listening to our bodies and stop eating when we are comfortably full and satisfied. Don’t stuff yourself full every meal and don’t feel like you have to eat everything on your plate.
The best thing about intuitive eating is that you can completely ditch the “diet mentality”. I know personally that this is a major win for anyone who has ever battled an eating disorder. You can stop worrying about the next best “diet” trend and start focusing on long-term health. Intuitive eating also encourages that you stop stressing about food and eating, stop referring to foods as good and bad and stop punishing yourself for eating. So you had a piece of cake, that doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you normal. Maybe you ate 5 pieces of cake, accept that it happened and move on. We all have battled with a negative voice in our head when we eat; some of us have struggled more than others with it. It’s easy to say that you should just change your thoughts but the truth is it is so much harder than that. Something I’ve started to do is every time a negative thought pops up is to think of something positive about myself.
Start eating foods that make you feel good and that react well with your body, if something makes you feel sick then don’t eat it or really limit when you eat it. Start to learn which foods make you feel good and what foods make you feel like shit. I stopped drinking alcohol over a year ago because honestly I hated the effects it had on my body and I’ve reached a point in my life where I want to feel like my optimal self as much as I can. I still will occasionally have one or two drinks but I know that drinking any more than that just isn’t worth it.
Intuitive eating also means accepting the things that you can’t change. We can’t all look like Victoria’s Secret models and that’s ok. We are all made differently and a healthy weight on one person could look totally different on someone else. Strive to be the healthiest version of you and not someone you saw in a magazine. Of course it’s important to have goals, but make them realistic and attainable for you.
When it comes to working out, I’m a firm believer in finding a form of exercise that you truly enjoy. I rarely set foot in a “regular” gym now because I found that CrossFit is what I really enjoy (even if it makes me feel like throwing up sometimes) and I choose to do CrossFit 4-6 times a week because I love it that much. Try out a few different types of workouts and don’t stop until you find something you enjoy.
I think the biggest challenge for me with intuitive eating was learning how to cope with my feelings without using food. Like so many of us, I would “eat my feelings” when I was stressed and that is not a healthy way to cope with life. The best thing for me when I’m stressed is to go workout, go for a walk, play with my dog, just do anything that brings me joy and helps me loosen up. Everyone is different when it comes to stress, maybe you’re someone who enjoys drawing or watching funny cat videos on YouTube, find what works for you and do it.
Remember that health is a journey and nobody is perfect; always focus on progression not perfection.