This is the first in a series we’ve lovingly dubbed “Illuminating Wellness”. It seems there is always some new term popping up in the wellness community (and your Pinterest boards). Let’s lay out what they mean and most importantly how you can actually apply them to your own day to day routine. Starting with a personal favorite: intuitive eating.
The concept of intuitive eating throws out ideas of tracking calories and pounds in favor of how you feel. And that? Is fantastic. Here’s where things get messy: we aren’t taught, and are therefore unsure of, how to tune into our bodies and recognize the cues it sends to us.
What intuitive eating is not: ignoring the cues your body sends you. For example, you recognize you are feeling sad and instead of spending time with the emotion because it will be uncomfortable, you drown it out by eating a bag of potato chips. Or perhaps you are bored and craving a cookie. You recognize you are bored but continue flipping through tv channels and try pushing the craving away instead of solving your boredom. Eventually, you get so tired of pushing this craving away you give up and eat a whole stack of cookies.
Intuitive eating is listening to your body’s physical signals and cravings. This can very well include a few cookies or a handful of chips, but also a bowl full of veggies or tall glass of cool water. Intuitive eating is about having trust in your body again, and knowing that it only wants what’s best for you. It’s about taking your power back into your own hands
I know what you’re thinking: if you were to give this intuitive eating thing a go you would just live off of pasta and cupcakes for the rest of forever growing more and more grotesque by the day. But, that is not true. The diet industry has convinced us we do not know what’s best for our bodies and we need to rely on someone else’s advice and carefully measure out each meal to keep ourselves “in check”.
Truth is, once you eliminate concepts of good food and bad food, everything will be on an even playing field. You’ll feel less like a crazy person and won’t have guilt eating at you day and night for preferring a cookie over roast vegetables. Of course you prefer the cookie. Have you ever had a cookie? They are incredible!
Yes, you probably will go on a binge spree at first. Devouring everything in sight is a completely normal first step after years of being taught deprivation and shame. However, you will quickly realize that enormous amounts of sugary and salty foods don’t make you feel so great. And that my friend is where your intuition is kicking in. It’s saying, “Hey, 10 cookies at a time is delicious, but we don’t feel so great down here and maybe next time we could stop after two.” Or, “Hey up there, you know what would be great right now? A salad!” You might be thinking “No way, not me”, but I promise yes even you! Your body was built and designed for this very purpose, it just needs time to recalibrate and be trusted again.
How can you take actionable steps to implement intuitive eating into your daily routine? Try these two tips:
1 | Practice tuning into your body and the cues it sends you throughout the day
Spend time being conscious of how you are feeling and be curious about the sensations you pick up on. When you have a craving do you feel hungry? Thirsty? Bored? Sad? When you’re hungry how does that feel for you?
2 | Keep notes, whether mental or in a food journal, of how you feel during and after eating certain foods
Are you satisfied, full, stuffed, empty? Do you feel heavy, tired, energetic, light? Did the meal live up to your expectations, or leave you wanting more? Side note: some processed foods are engineered to make you feel like you never have enough no matter how much you eat!
Are you going to try intuitive eating? Let us know in the comments so we can cheer each other on!
– image credit: Ali Inay