Welcome to post one in the Intuitive Eating series! I hope to be able to dive a little deeper into Intuitive Eating here and in subsequent posts to be a resource for you and invite you in to this awesome way of living that has given me so much peace. I say peace because through my journey with intuitive eating I have found body peace I never thought possible as well as calm in food decisions. Choosing food as an intuitive eater is so un-stressful. I hope I can give you intuitive eating from my perspective. I always enjoy seeing individual spins on things!
The easiest way I describe the process of intuitive eating to people is asking yourself two simple questions.
What do I want right now? and How will that make me feel?
I put the “want” question first because that’s at the root of intuitive eating but the feel question is also an important component because sometimes what we want might not make us feel super awesome so we course correct and enhance that food decision or prepare food for the next time we are hungry so that we feel satisfied and full. Sometimes we choose a fun food for pleasure and joy and emotional satisfaction and sometimes we choose a food for physical satisfaction that has no emotional ties because life is fast paced and we just know that eating is necessary for brain function and energy levels and let’s move on. Here’s a little scenario.
Example: I love donuts. I really love them a lot and they used to be a food that was “off limits” to me prior to becoming an intuitive eater but now they are welcome any time I desire a donut- no strings attached. It’s so awesome. I don’t feel the need to eat all the donuts because I know if I want a donut later in the day or one tomorrow that’s totally cool. It allows me to be present in the moment and enjoy my donut rather than go through the myriad of stressful questions that actually physically make the event of eating a donut stressful. When we stress about food it initiates the body’s stress response and cortisol release. Life is already stressful enough, let’s take the food stress off the table.
Let’s go through the 2 questions.
Q 1:What do I want?
A 1: A donut! Specifically- a chocolate buttermilk donut from Blue Star or a Huckleberry Donut from Sidecar. (I told you I love them- so much so that I have HIGH standards for a good donut- anything less- I don’t want it- I’ll wait till something really good comes along- that’s another perk of intuitive eating- having unconditional permission to eat which also means if you don’t want to eat the sub par donut… you can make that decision to wait and make it truly enjoyable later on!)
Q 2: How will this donut make me feel?
A 2: Well that depends… If it’s for breakfast I usually need something savory to accompany my donut so I need to make sure to get me a boiled egg or share a donut with a friend who has a breakfast quesadilla with eggs so I get my protein and savory while also having my sweet and carby. When I have that egg dish my plate is better balanced as well- we have protein, carbs, and fat and probably a little veggie too from the savory dish! wohoo! If it’s a snack in the middle of the day I usually don’t need anything else with my donut except a cup of coffee and I’m super satisfied for a few hours.
*side note- donuts are actually quite balanced if you look at the big picture. Carbs (flour and sugar) + fat (butter usually and oil) so theoretically, that’s why it does a good job at keeping you full and intuitive eating encourages us to look at that big picture to see what it provides and what else we might need.
Intuitive Eating in short is connecting the “2 B’s” Brain and Body knowledge. You can see that from the two questions above – brain is the want and body is the feel. The reason this is important is because diet culture often neglects both of these questions and gives us a specific diet to follow that claimed to help one person and some how can help millions without asking them their preferences, their activity level, how much sleep they get, their medical history? Doesn’t that seem a little fishy? We are all incredibly unique and diet culture tells us we are not. I strongly dislike that. How can person x feel satisfied and enjoy the same meal plan or way of eating as person y if person x and y are so incredibly different in almost every way? It just blows my mind.
Intuitive eating fosters that individuality and encourages us to nourish ourselves, no one else. No one else can know what food you enjoy because that person is not you. No one else can determine how much and what type of food gets you to a comfortable fullness level and what food changes that fullness to satisfied. More on full vs. satisfied later. Intuitive eating encourages gentle nutrition- the concept of balancing a plate and enjoying fruits and veggies as well as the macronutrients. But this gentle nutrition step comes only after we break down the dieting myth. The myth that weight loss is attainable for everyone and that thinner is better. Ugh. We need to break that down and shed a bright, hard light at it. We then need to understand what even constitues a diet and how that affects the physiology of the human body that is only trying to keep us alive and well!
We then need to go into how to honor our body through movement and through unconditional permission to eat. We need to play around with what hunger feels like and what fullness feels like. Can you pinpoint when you are appropriately hungry and comfortably full and satisfied? Many people can’t and this was actually where I had the most trouble in intuitive eating. I could not, for the life of me, understand what a comfortable full was for MONTHS. It took me months of going way past and feeling defeated. So believe me when I say it hasn’t been roses and daisies all the way for me.
I would also like to note that no one is a perfect intuitive eater. No one gets a 100% because life is messy and because intuitive eating goes a long with life- sometimes we aren’t totally taking care of ourselves in the best way and then we course correct to get back to a place we feel nourished and cared for.
I think this graphic from Laura is a wonderful depiction of what intuitive eating is and through this process you can be on that right side wohoo!
The 10 principals of intuitive eating are the following. If you would like to purchase the intuitive eating book and work through these week by week with me go ahead and click here to order!
- Reject The Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace With Food
- Challenge The Food Police
- Respect Your Fullness
- Discover The Satisfaction Factor
- Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise- Feel The Difference
- Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition