Hi friends! I thought with Thanksgiving coming up, it would be a great time to have my friend Sarah share with you some intuitive eating tips! Welcome, Sarah!
Hi there! My name is Sarah and I’m a Registered Dietitian and blogger at Bucket List Tummy. I love Kelli’s blog and we have been “internet” friends for the past year. I hope to someday meet her in person – I’m so excited about her new little bundle that will be joining soon!
I actually just had a baby a few months ago, so I’m still adjusting to the crazy transition that is motherhood. I write a lot about being a first-time mom (including the fails), as well as recipes, nutrition, intuitive eating, and running and sports nutrition.
I am an intuitive eating dietitian, meaning I practice the principles of intuitive eating with my clients. Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about what that means and easy ways you can start to incorporate intuitive eating principles into your day and food choices, if you so desire.
Intuitive eating relies on internal cues to guide your food choices, rather than external cues and rigid “rules.” I like to think of it as the most “non-diet” there is. We’re all born as intuitive eaters. As babies, we know when we’re hungry and when we’re full. Babies can self-regulate without rules telling them how many carbs to eat, what fats to limit or avoid, and how many calories to eat.
As we live in the culture today, we often lose sight of that internal wisdom and get out of touch with our body. Intuitive eating practices getting back in touch with our bodies. I highly recommend reading the book, Intuitive Eating (affiliate link) by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, if you’d like more details.
Here are some of my favorite ways to start practicing intuitive eating and turning inwards. I also recommend working with a dietitian if this is something that interests you!
Don’t Plan For a Day
Here me out. I know meal planning can be a LIFESAVER (and Kelli’s meal plans are great for inspiration and making the work easy for you!), but for one day, try not having a plan. This spontaneity will force you to tune in to what you really want, versus what you picked out for yourself the night before or what the plan says you should have.
Let’s be honest – sometimes we don’t want leftovers. Or a boring salad. Maybe you really want a sandwich after seeing your coworker eating hers, or maybe you’re dying for some Thai food with veggies. Intuitive eating means allowing yourself to satisfy that craving without guilt attached. Go ahead and eat what you want at the moment.
Try to Tune Into Your Feelings
If you’re not hungry but find yourself heading to the pantry or refrigerator, think what else could it be? Are you bored? Stressed? Unhappy? Sad? Lonely?
Sometimes, we mask our feelings with food, when we know food isn’t what we need in the first place. Now, there is a time and a place for emotional eating (eating is emotional!) but that’s a post for another time.
Maybe you head to the pantry or fridge out of habit when these feelings arise, but you’ve never actually taken the time to sort them out. Consider a walk or form of movement instead. Or reading a book, journaling, taking a bubble bath or calling a friend instead.
Or, try seeing a therapist or someone you can talk things through with. See if these feeling subside. If you really are hungry, then by all means, eat what sounds pleasing to you!
Focus on Satisfaction, not Fullness
Speaking of what sounds pleasing, did you know there’s a difference between feeling full and feeling satisfied? Think of it this way. That salad with salmon may have you leaving dinner feeling really full. But, that feeling subsides as soon as you get home and while you’re not starving, you’re seeking something particular.
This means you weren’t satisfied. Satisfaction is that feeling you can’t really put your finger on, but it tunes into your emotional health as well as your physical feelings. Maybe you were full (temporarily) but not satisfied because you kept thinking about the dessert later, or the crackers when you got home.
Keeping this in mind, maybe next time you could get bread with your salad or a side of rice (or some carbohydrate), or order the burger that you were thinking about ordering from the start.
I never feel satisfied if I don’t order what I’m really thinking about ordering, or if I feel influenced by someone else to order what they get. Follow your intuition!
Be Gentle With Yourself
Oftentimes when clients embark on intuitive eating, it can be scary! You may feel like you overate at one meal because it’s more than what you’re used to, or it’s more than the former diet you were following allowed. Maybe you’re allowing yourself to have foods you haven’t eaten in a while because you were scared you would overeat them or that they didn’t fall within the rigid food rules you were following at the time. This fear is normal and I completely understand where you’re coming from.
This is why I say that intuitive eating doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes time. But, try to give yourself some grace and compassion, because what you’re doing is truly honoring your body. You are honoring your body by giving it what it wants in the moment, and by doing so, you are establishing trust. This trust will be paramount to improving your relationship with food!
Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you only think about food when you’re eating it and it’s not something to obsess about. You realize you can have any food anytime you want it, so why stress?
Again, I know many of these are easier said than done, but they are my favorite ways to start thinking about food a little differently. Even just working on one principle at a time can make a difference. If you want to learn more about intuitive eating, I have plenty more resources on my blog!