Here at Healthyezsweet Life, I talk about intuitive eating a lot. And it’s not because I just like the sound of my keyboard clicking or because I’m sponsored by the book (although that would be freakin’ cool). I talk about intuitive eating in 5+ blog posts because it is the best way to overcome any eating disorder, food related anxiety, and create positive body image. But I’m getting ahead of myself, for those of you who are still not sure what the heck intuitive eating even is or how it can help you, this beginner’s guide will lay it all out.
What Intuitive Eating is NOT
Before we dive into what intuitive eating is and what makes it work for so many people, let’s quickly go over what it’s not. Intuitive eating is not:
- a diet
- a primary goal of losing weight (although many people have shed pounds following IE principles)
- a set of calorie guidelines
- just another way of regulating your intake
Intuitive Eating 101
Unlike a slow carb diet, any meal plan that requires you to count macros, or something of the like – intuitive eating requires you to listen to your body (and not somebody else’s idea of what’s best for it). What a concept, right? But what does that mean exactly? Let’s take the example of cravings. If you pass by a bakery and you start salivating over that chocolate cupcake in the window, intuitive eating encourages you to go for it. No waiting an hour to see if you’re really hungry, no hunting down a subpar, 100-calorie version in the market – eat the damn cupcake.
But wait, if I give into my cravings every time they happen, I’ll blow up like a balloon! And all the sugar and processed things I tend to crave can’t possibly be good for me. Here’s the thing: intuitive eating operates on a two-pronged system of respect and trust. When you respect your body’s hunger cues (including cravings), you must also trust that your body will moderate your desire for less healthy choices VS higher nutrient choices. The more you teach your body that no foods are off limits, and its cravings will always be delivered, the less you’ll desire to eat large quantities of those treat foods and the more you’ll crave higher nutrient choices (ex. veggies, lean protein, etc.)
Spoiler Alert: You Already Know How to Eat Intuitively
Human beings are born with this really cool ability to self regulate. AKA eat when we’re hungry (or when a certain smell, sound, etc triggers our cravings) and stop when we’re full and satisfied. Think about it, this is how you ate when you were a little kid. Sometime between then and now your brain got muddled with messages of diet culture, thin ideals, and other crap that never should’ve been there in the first place. These mixed messages about food and weight caused you to enter a cycle of restriction, binging, and guilt because you’re never truly satisfied with what you’re eating. Intuitive eating is fantastic because while you may crave what seems like massive amounts of treats and processed foods in the beginning, as time goes on it takes less to reach satisfaction.
Make it Your Own
The best thing about Intuitive Eating is that unlike any diet, it’s completely flexible and personal. Nothing is off limits and nothing is enforced. That much leeway can be daunting at first, but ultimately is exhilarating and revolutionary. Once you get in the habit of eating intuitively, you’ll never want to count calories or cut carbs again. Like any habit, it takes a bit of practice. Keep the principles of Intuitive Eating with you always by downloading, pinning, or printing the cheat sheet below. These are your ABC’s of Intuitive Eating. For each letter in the word “intuitive” is a different reminder to keep you in tune with your body, caught up with your cravings, and away from any food guilt.
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