It’s one thing to work on your eating habits from the comfort of your room with your good ol’ pal Netflix..and nobody else. But what do you do when it’s time for a family dinner or a girl’s night at what used to be your favorite burger joint? Follow this step-by-step guide to eating intuitively.
First things first. What the heck is intuitive eating? If you’re not sure, head on over to this post where I break it down for you into an easy acronym. It’s important to get familiar with intuitive eating principles before you can really start to apply them in your own life, and eventually not even have to think about them anymore. That’s food freedom my friends. But in the meantime, you need something to help you get through that dinner date with your friends. And here it is.
Step 1: If Possible, Don’t Request The Restaurant Beforehand
If you’re open with your pals or family about your eating disorder, it’s pretty simple to just explain that it’s easier for you not to know where you’ll be eating so you don’t have the option of googling menus and researching nutritional facts beforehand. But if you’d rather keep your reasons private, that’s okay too. Ask your friend or family member if you can drive with them. You can say you’ve been having car troubles and would rather not risk it. You can make it a game and suggest that one person pick the restaurant and everyone else be surprised too! Do whatever works for you.
Bonus tip: On the ride there, start to ask yourself what you’re in the mood for. What sounds appetizing? What doesn’t?
Step 2: Limit Your Menu Browsing To Five Minutes
So you’re at the restaurant and the anxiety is creeping in, along with the smell of fresh baked bread. Pick up your menu, but allow yourself no more than five minutes before turning it over. This will make it so you can’t reread the same three things about three hundred times, and try to convince yourself to order the one with fewer calories. Pay close attention to what items stood out to you in those five minutes, and which didn’t. When you order, choose what sounds satisfying and remember that challenges like these bring you closer to food freedom and recovery.
Bonus tip: Challenge yourself to suggest an appetizer. Maybe nobody will want to share it, but maybe they will. Sharing an appetizer is a good reminder that food brings people together, and you have every right to participate and enjoy it.
Step 3: Don’t Just Listen To The Convos, Get Really Involved
Gone are the days where you are too malnourished, frustrated, and tired to engage at the dinner table. The absolute best part about going out to eat is who you’re going with. So don’t just sit back and be a bystander, jump in with both feet. Share your latest project or assignment that you’re super passionate about or ask someone else something you’ve been dying to know. The goal is to be so engaged in the conversation that you don’t even really notice when your food arrives. The bites are just little points between the awesome time you’re having talking and bonding.
Bonus tip: Apply this strategy of distraction at home too. Be so busy thinking about X or speaking about Y that you don’t have the brain space to think about numbers or guilt.
Step 4: Remember That Discomfort Is Normal
Both literally and figuratively. On the literal hand, keep in mind that feeling full is sometimes uncomfortable but it’s completely normal and nothing to feel ashamed of or warrant punishment. I promise the bloat will go down in a couple of hours if not less. Figuratively, assume that taking these steps will feel tight like a new pair of shoes. You’ll want to wiggle out of it, kick it away, and save the breaking in for another time. Don’t. The time is now, and each time you follow these steps, you’ll be a stride closer to true food freedom.
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