When I was growing up in Minnesota we had a dog named Star. Every once in a long while Star would go outside, eat grass, and throw up. Mom told us that Star wasn’t feeling well and eating grass was her way of getting better.
What would make a dog all of a sudden decide that grass looked really delicious? Their intuition of course! Animals instinctively know what they need to eat. Humans have this intuition too.
Intuitive eating is following your intuition about what your body needs: what to eat, how much, and when.
Intuitive eating is NOT about dieting or counting calories, or thinking about how many miles you ran so therefore you can eat X, or you skipped breakfast so therefore you can eat Y, or you ate a tone of ice cream so now you can only eat Z. It is about checking in and seeing what you need in that moment.
Are you satisfied and can put the rest of the meal away for later? Are you hungry and need to find more food? Do you need veggies, protein, or carbs? Can you digest dairy well? How much sugar is too much? How fast does your body metabolize caffeine?
Clients tell me all the time that they don’t have this intuition. The thing is intuition is like a muscle, you have to use it to grow it. Here are some Eating Guidelines to help you tap into your own intuition around food:
- Eat when you are hungry (i.e. wait until you are hungry to eat).
- Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
- Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
- Eat what your body wants.
- Eat until you are satisfied (i.e. stop before you get full).
- Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
- Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.
Intuitive eating is much easier when you are eating mostly whole foods, as processed foods make it harder to decipher what it is your body needs.
The problem with calorie counting and dieting (assuming you are eating healthy food) is that it doesn’t take into account if you had a small breakfast or a large dinner last night, if you were cold all day, or if you’ve been working out less than normal; all of which would effect how many calories you need to eat right now.
Intuitive eating, on the other hand, will help you maintain your ideal weight naturally through life’s ups and downs while getting the nutrients your body needs.
When have you experienced intuitive eating? Share in the comments below!