Have you heard of intuitive eating? You may think it’s another dietary trend, but really intuitive eating is just eating. Instead of following outside rules enforced by diets, intuitive eating is about tuning into your body’s appetite cues and eating accordingly. Humans have successfully been eating intuitively for millennia, and it’s one of the keys to any healthy diet.
Intuitive eating isn’t about weight loss, but instead about re-learning how to eat according to your own body. For those that have followed diets throughout their lives, learning to eat more intuitively can bring peace, freedom, and confidence around food. If you have weight to lose, intuitive eating will raise awareness surrounding food and help restore hunger and fullness signals. Remembering how to make food choices based on your body’s own cues (we all did it as children!) will build a foundation for a lifelong healthy relationship with food.
Rather than embarking on another healthy diet in 2020, here are 5 practices that will help you become more intuitive around food and improve physical and mental well being:
Be Present When Eating
This might sound obvious, but we’ve all eaten something distractedly and missed out on truly appreciating it. Eating is inherently pleasurable—it has to be or we wouldn’t survive! No matter what you’ve chosen to eat, sending out a thought of gratitude will bring you into the present moment and increase enjoyment and satisfaction. Try to slow down and enjoy the entire eating experience, noting the tastes and textures of the food.
Notice How You Feel After Eating Specific Foods
One aspect of intuitive eating is learning how different foods feel within the body. Eat as you normally would but check in with yourself an hour or two later—set an alarm on your phone if you need a reminder. Are you feeling energized or sluggish? Experiencing any digestive issues like gas, bloating or cramping? Is your energy stable or are you “crashing”? Noting how you respond to different foods will allow you to make informed dietary choices, and you’ll gravitate towards healthier foods that work well for you!
Ask Yourself What Sounds Good
Again, this may sound obvious but if you’re someone that’s followed diets most of your life you may not be in touch with what you actually enjoy eating. Thinking about how foods will taste and make you feel while using gentle nutrition to guide you, will encourage food selections that are nourishing and satisfying. There are plenty of healthy foods out there—instead of forcing yourself to eat spinach just because it’s good for you, find a veggie you really love! Eating foods you truly enjoy will increase satisfaction and make you less likely to overeat on junk food.
Trust Your Body
Intuitive eating is about learning to rely on internal signals for guidance, rather than external cues like calorie counting. If you’ve come from a history of dieting, letting go of control can be terrifying and you might fear overeating; however, overeating after “dieting” is your body’s reaction to overcoming the deprivation you experienced. Our bodies have incredibly sophisticated and complex mechanisms by which they regulate appetite and maintain weight—much more sophisticated than any calorie counting app. Selecting mostly whole foods will help you feel best and maintain a healthy weight, but part of intuitive eating is removing rules and restrictions.
Don’t think of intuitive eating as something you can master. Normal and healthy eating means sometimes over- and under-eating. Your body will tell you when it needs food. If you eat more now, you’ll simply be less hungry later; if you eat less during the day you’ll be extra hungry at night because you need more food. Likewise, if you eat more than you need one day, you’ll naturally want less the next. Don’t stress about it and don’t strive for “perfect” eating because it doesn’t exist. Intuitive eating is about flexibility, not control.
It’s worth noting that switching to intuitive eating may initially cause a bit of anxiety if you are used to living by diet rules and are unsure of how to eat without them; or, you could feel amazing right away! Either is totally normal. Think of eating intuitively as a lifelong process that will become . . . well, intuitive as time passes.
Make Read the Ingredients Part of Your Healthy Diet
As you practice eating more intuitively and notice how different foods make you feel, you’ll naturally start to choose more healthy options. But, trying to find wholesome products that are also convenient can be a challenge. That’s why we created low-sugar, all-natural Big Bites and Loaves. Our whole-food-based protein bars contain only real ingredients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Grab one of our delicious Loaves for a healthy breakfast on the go, or try one of our Big Bites when you need a little something to sustain you until dinner.Interested in learning more about our products and the ingredients we use? Visit our ingredients page, and then place your order to try them for yourself. At Read the Ingredients, we want to wish you and your family health, happiness, and intuitive eating in 2020!