Intuitive eating allows you to connect and fuel your unique body, the exact opposite of a diet mindset. It gives you the tools to break-up with food rules, diets, and the mental prison that can be all consuming if you do not have a good relationship with food. Intuitive eating builds into a life filled with food freedom and wholeness.
Don’t think you have a diet mindset? This mindset can sneak up on you with any style of eating – and whether you're on a diet plan or not.
If you find yourself obsessing about food and food choices, eating emotionally, defining foods in your mind as “good” or “bad,” or feeling guilt after eating choices, eating foods that don’t make you feel good, but are “healthy,” eating what others tell you, then you may be wrestling with a diet mindset.
Ready to change that? Use the below guidelines to build intuitive eating, so that you can start to connect with your body and trust what it is telling you (because your body is sending you signals all day long)!
1. Let go of fad diets and diet labels: Make a firm commitment to give up dieting! Diets do not work. Do not allow others to tell you what to eat or how much to eat.
2. Tune into your hunger: Learning to listen to your hunger cues creates the first step for rebuilding your trust with yourself and food. Learning to honor this cue limits the primal drive to overeat when hunger is ignored for too long. Your goal is to recognize hunger and eat at the point of moderate hunger, so before you're starving.
3. Make peace with your plate: When you prepare a meal after asking your body what it wants, it’s even more delicious! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods your body is asking for. This does not mean you ignore your food morals or stop avoiding foods sensitivities/allergies. We often crave the foods we are allergic to, but after avoiding them for a while, it allows our bodies to reset and the craving will go away. So with this in mind, if you are avoiding a specific food for health reasons, continue to do so in a healthy mindset way – i.e. “I am choosing not eat gluten because I want to overcome and put my autoimmune disease into remission.” Instead learn to listen to your own body and to choose healing, whole foods.
4. Practice noticing how your BODY reacts to foods or meals: After you eat, stop and listen to your body. How satisfied are you? How do you feel? Any hunger? Brain fog? Burping? Bloating? Fatigue? Headache? Digestive issues? Boundless energy? Motivation? Think about how energized or drained you feel after a meal. Continue this mindset throughout the day and take the time to ask questions about how you are feeling because food can affect you hours after eating.
5. Honor your health: It is what you eat consistently over time that truly matters; progress over perfection with food is what counts. Make food choices that include variety, moderation, and balance. Choose foods that honor both your health and taste buds, but also make you feel well. You do not have to create perfection with your food to be healthy. Letting go of perfection is key to developing intuitive eating.
6. Respect your unique body: Everyone has a unique body, so it makes sense that we all won’t feel our best eating the same, exact way! Starting with a foundation of mainly whole foods, start to recognize what truly makes you feel GOOD. What worked for your sister or friend may leave you feeling with headaches and fatigue. Your body is resilient and has the amazing capability to heal and win. Trust that your body is always focused on healing, and support that with quality nutrition, movement, sleep, and managing your stress levels.
Learning to eat intuitively with confidence can take time, so give yourself grace as you begin the journey and learn to listen to your body. Take it one day at a time. It’s worth the effort. Food freedom is an incredible place to live!
Jennifer Klotz, MS, RDN, LDN