After a great conversation with my friend Leah about eating intuitively, I began thinking more consciously about my food and desires. Now, what IS intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is a way to eat and really listen to your body while doing it. Are you hungry? Eat! Are you satisfied, but not stuffed? Stop! Are you craving something sweet? Grab some fruit or make a smoothie. Do you want something salty? Try some pistachios! Or maybe you want to really treat yourself and have been thinking about homemade custard. Go for it! Intuitive eating is asking yourself questions and following the signals your body is already giving you. It's also a great way to really enjoy the food you have rather than just passively eating out of convenience or boredom. Sound interesting? Here are a couple tips on eating intuitively:
1// Hungry, eat. Full, stop. - This is a very simple concept, but many childhood meals of being told to completely clear our full plates have made us often feel like we need to finish everything and not waste our food. While I'm definitely a fan of not wasting things, the more important factor in this picture is listening to your body. If you start to feel the slight pangs of hunger, go grab a snack or make yourself a meal. Don't push it off and get yourself to the point where you're starved. If you need to eat small meals throughout the day to keep your hunger at bay, do so! Carry snacks with you in your bag for on-the-go hunger needs! On the flip side, if you are starting to feel full, stop eating! It is NOT comfortable to be stuffed and your body doesn't like it either!
2// Pace Yourself - I've known many people who can throw down food very fast. Before they know it they're stuffed and moaning in the corner of the room. In order for your body to give you the "I'm full" sign at the proper time, be sure to pace your eating. Enjoy your food. Eat slowly. One bite at a time, chew, swallow. Enjoy! It's good!
3// Portion Control - I like to apply this tactic to snackage time. It is really easy to turn snacking into an activity out of boredom or quickly become passive in your eating. For example, if you are watching a show and decide that you would like a snack and you grab a giant fresh bag of chips. You open the chips and just start chowing down. You don't know if you'll finish the bag, but you're open to it if it happens. After a while, the taste of the chips are no longer that good, sores from all the salt start forming in your mouth. You're not really enjoying it anymore, but you keep on going because it's there and you've formed a habit. So instead...my tip for you would be to go into the kitchen, grab a small bowl, fill your bowl with chips, leave the bag in the kitchen and take that bowl with you to your show watching time. Keep in mind that this is your portion, this is all you can have of your snack and you should enjoy it! Eating snacks this way has made me enjoy my snack foods SO much more and really appreciate my portion. I don't feel passive in my eating, but I feel like I'm actively enjoying its yumminess.
4// Treat Time - I am not a believer in withholding things from your life that you love. I think being a healthy eater shouldn't make you also feel like your suffering on a daily basis. Eating healthy is GOOD. Making good decisions for your snacks and meals is also good! Also, and hear me out here....giving into a special treat craving is SO GOOD. I'm not saying that you should have chocolate cake everyday. But what I am saying is that every now and then you might be reminded of your all-time favorite milk-shake from your favorite ice cream parlor and you might REALLY want that shake. My suggestion? Get it! Treating yourself here and there to treats you really enjoy is ok. It's not a sin and it won't make you "less healthy", so stop feeling guilty about it. What's important is keeping a lifestyle of healthy eating, not never, ever eating anything that might be considered junk food. As well, one of my favorite saying is, "If I'm going to have cheesecake, I'm going to have cheesecake!" Don't skimp! If you want some yummy cheesecake go for it, don't buy that fat free icky crap that won't even come close to satisfying your craving. Not worth it. ;)
5// Convenience Eating - When I first started working towards eating healthier, that's when I really noticed how much I ate out of convenience. If there was a plate of cookies in front of me, even if I didn't really want a cookie, I would take one and eat it. If you don't want that treat, drop it! If you're not hungry, ignore all those left-over party foods at work. Don't just eat because it's there. Eat because you are hungry.
I can't tell you how much this way of thinking has helped me make better choices for myself and really learn to enjoy the food I eat. It's very empowering learning to listen to your body. Keeping in touch with yourself is so important for your overall health, so get to practicing! :)
Have any intuitive eating stories or tips?? Please share in the comments below!