Breakfast on the go, take away lunches stressed out at your work desk, dinners eaten on the couch in front of Netflix - does this sound familiar?
This is a pretty common way for people in today's society to enjoy their food intake during the day. We all know life can get busy sometimes, and for most of us, sitting down and having our meals in peace is not the first thing we prioritise. As you probably understand, this lifestyle doesn't give us much time to stop and feel when we are full and how our bodies are feeling afterward.
Enter Intuitive Eating
The idea behind intuitive eating is to become experts of our bodies and our hunger signals; to make peace with all types of food. Unlike dieting, intuitive eating is a sustainable way to reach a healthy weight, improve your digestion and enjoy the food you eat even more. The aim is to slow down as we eat, maintaining an "in-the-moment" awareness of how the food and drinks we eat make us feel. By slowing down, we can start to listen to our bodies and what they are trying to tell us. Are we really hungry? Are we eating because we are bored, tired, or stressed? Or is it cravings?
Intuitive eating is an eating style that promotes a healthy attitude toward food and body image; the idea is that you should eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Although this should already be an intuitive process, for many of us, it's not.
Physical vs emotional hunger
Intuitive eating also teaches you that you are the best person — the only person — to make the best choices when it comes to what you eat. To learn to eat intuitively, you need to learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger:
Physical hunger is the biological urge that tells you to replenish nutrients. It builds gradually and has different signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue, or irritability.
Emotional hunger is driven by emotional need. Sadness, loneliness, and boredom are some of the feelings that can create food cravings, often comfort foods.
Principles for Intuitive Eating
When these are on the clear, keep the following principles in mind to learn to eat more intuitively:
Honor your hunger
Respond to your early signs of hunger by giving your body the food needed. If you let yourself get “too hungry”, you are more likely to overeat.
Make peace with food
Get rid of your rules or/and ideas about what you should or shouldn’t eat. Learn to tune inwards and listen to your body – what makes you feel good?
Respect your fullness
In the same way your body tells you it’s hungry, it will tell you when it’s full. Listen for the signals of comfortable fullness, and stop when you feel you have had enough.
Honor your feelings without using food
This one is an important one if you see yourself as an emotional eater. Emotional eating is a strategy for coping with feelings. It’s important for you to find ways that are unrelated to food to deal with your feelings, such as taking a walk, journaling or calling a friend.
Respect your body
Recognise what it is capable of and how beautiful it is.
Honor your health
The food you eat should nourish your body, taste good and make you feel well. Keep in mind that it’s your overall food patterns that shape your health – one meal or snack isn’t going to make or break your health.
Benefits of intuitive eating
You'll develop more awareness of how food makes you feel
Mindful eating helps you to tune in with your body – are you stressed, tired, or sad? Are you hungry or bored? Does this food "sit well" with you, or could it be the source of food sensitivity? Mindful eating can also help you identify what your cravings really are about and why you.
If you are dealing with bloating, gas, or other stomach issues, mindful eating may help. Chewing your food slowly helps your body digests it better, thanks to the digestive enzymes released by saliva.
You'll absorb more nutrients from food
When the body is in a hurry, the nutrients won't absorb as easily. When we are slowing down, the same digestive enzymes released by your saliva will also help your body better absorb vitamins and nutrients from the foods you're eating.