With so many diets out there and societal pressure to “eat this, not that” in order to be healthy, it’s no wonder that most of us use our heads instead of our intuition when it comes to choosing what to eat. Yet, there is another way. Intuitive Eating is an approach that allows you to transform your relationship with food and trust your body.
So, what is intuitive eating?
According to the originators of the approach from IntuitiveEating.com, “Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind and body – where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings and gain a sense of body wisdom. It’s also a process of making peace with food – so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts. It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as “bad” or “fattening.”
Their website goes on to outline the ten principles of intuitive eating as the following:
- 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 – Gentle Nutrition.
Well, I love this. Because this is what I’m all about.
I firmly believe:
Why I Eat Intuitively
When I was introduced to the concept of Intuitive eating while studying at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I realized that I’ve been intuitively eating for many years. For most of my adult life, I’ve had a general sense about what I should or should not be eating in that moment (or ever). This has often been against all logic as, at times, the food that didn’t feel “right” for me at the time wasn’t anything inherently unhealthy. My body just didn’t want them and when I tested my intuition, often due to doubting myself and lack of trust in my body, I quickly learned my lesson. Over time this has included all kinds of perfectly healthy foods like avocado, rice, edamame or corn.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – so I can just eat whatever I want and assume that’s my intuition telling me to do so?
Not necessarily. Again, this isn’t a process using the mind. You’re tuning into your gut – the “know without knowing why you know” part of you, but also we must use our common sense.
Combine Your Intuition with Your Common Sense
For example, this week my husband has been getting little sleep due to his work and the other night while walking around Target he kept saying he was craving doritos and cheetos (some of his old vices). Well, I rarely hear him say these things and he’s a pretty healthy eater, so we stopped and gave those cravings some our attention. When we talked it through he realized that his body was telling him it needed more carbohydrates. You see, when we get less sleep than we need, our body craves more carbs.
So what did he do? After dinner (which included some healthy fats and carbs), he had some additional raw, local honey and a few pieces of raw, organic fruit. Plus, he made sure to get some extra sleep that night. The bottom line is when you hear a message from your body – give it what it’s craving, but find a healthy way to do so.
Now I’m not saying that each morning I wake up and eat whatever I want. I have some food sensitivities (specifically gluten) and so I avoid some foods due to that, but I’m constantly re-evaluating what I’m putting into my body and checking in with myself.
For instance, right now I’m trying out a way of eating that involves an emphasis on raw fruits and vegetables even though I’ve been happily thriving on a grain-free or “Paleo” way of eating for several years. I’m finding that a middle road between the two is best for me right now. That may change, it is a constant ebb and flow and a journey that involves trusting in your body’s intuition and letting go of any “food fear” or “food worries” that we have.
A side note about Intuitive Exercising
I’ve found this approach to be fantastic for choosing exercise that is right for my body. I recommend focusing on how different forms of exercise make your body feel instead of whether or not it will help you lose weight, how flat your abs will be or how tight your bum may get. Those can be great side benefits, but they often don’t deeply motivate you long term.
I like to ask my body on a regular basis what it wants to do for movement and I find the answer changes depending on the season, my diet and my stress level. In the fall, my body wants high intensity classes like kickboxing, in the winter it prefers hot vinyasa flow or high energy yoga classes and in the spring and summer it prefers gentle yoga routines focused on stretching and taking long walks outdoors in nature. You’ll know when your body doesn’t like the exercise you’re doing as you’ll feel angry and resentful that you’re doing it! Give it a break and choose something you enjoy.
Now you try it. I recommend giving intuitive eating and exercising a try. For one week allow every type of food to be “ok” for you (unless you have a known sensitivity, allergy or medical condition that requires a specific meal plan) and let your intuition tell you if you want to eat it or not. Before you eat, ask yourself: What does my body want? Or after you eat something ask yourself: how do I feel now? Over time you’ll develop a better sense about what is right for you and a more trusting relationship with your body and your intuition.
Please leave a comment below and let me know about your experience.
Angela Watson Robertson is a holistic health coach, writer, reiki master and yoga teacher who teaches you how to live an authentic and balanced life. Find her free recipes, wellness tips and health coaching programs at www.angelawatsonrobertson.com. For holistic living inspirations, join her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Image courtesy of kaboompics.com.