Last year, I wrote an extensive intuitive eating review and why it didn't work for me. Which is odd because I attended a weekly intuitive eating support group for six months.
As I was writing the review, I realized that despite the weekly meetings, I didn't understand the inutitive eating rules. Interestingly, I also realized that cognitive behaviour therapy had unknowingly lead me to become an intuitive eater. I eat when I am hungry, I eat what my body wants (at least I do most of the time) and I've learned that I can lose weight without dieting (albeit slowly).
Given my history with intuitive eating, I take an interest in intuitive eating blog posts. Jen at Perfect in our Imperfections is working towards becoming an intuitive eater. In her latest post Perfect in our Imperfections: Intuitive eating so far Jen noted that it is suprisingly difficult (I agree!) and put a call out for any useful strategies.
So, if you are budding intuitive eater, I have a few ideas to help get you started:
1. Eat what your body wants
Confused by eat what your body wants? Yes, I was too. I waited for my body to tell me what to eat for lunch, but my body never really told me anything. I didn't understand that 1) my body wants to eat healthy foods and 2) my mind also has a say in the matter.
Want to know if you eat what your body wants or what your mind wants? There is an easy way to find out. What kind of food do you crave? If you crave processed, sugar or fat-filled food such as Oreos and french fries, you eat what your mind wants you to eat. If you crave fresh, healthy foods simply prepared such as salad and quinoa, you eat what your body wants.
Instead of eat what your body wants, think of it as learning to crave healthy food.
How does one learn to crave healthy foods? You learn by eating healthy foods most of the time. Yes, you fake it until you make it. Eat healthy, quality whole foods, prepared at home and you will start to crave healthy foods and eat what your body wants.
Personally, I noticed that I started to turn my tastebuds when I switched my lunch from a sandwich to a salad. Now I feel sad if I don't have my salad that I prepare at home and eat at lunch hour.
2. Eat when you are hungry
A history of dieting will make it difficult to know when you are hungry, especially since anxiety induced from dieting will send out false hunger as a coping mechanism. So a good way to figure out your hunger scale is to eat every three hours. My therapist directed me do this and I noticed (even today), that if I push it past the three hour mark to the four hour mark, this triggers overeating.
Think about hunger in relative terms: if you eat a complete balanced meal and you are hungry again in an hour, chances are you aren't really hungry. That hunger could be triggered by anxiety (or some other reason). Distract yourself and I am confident that you will find that the hunger will disapate.
If you haven't eaten in three hours, and your stomach is rumbling, eat, your body wants you to eat. If you are unsure of when to stop eating, just use your common sense. A balanced, healthy meal should fill you up. If after that meal you don't feel satisfied, eat a piece of fruit for dessert.
So remember to fake it 'til you make it. Eat healthy foods and you will learn to eat what your body wants. Eat every three hours to straighten out your hunger signal. Keep in mind that your thoughts can either help or hinder your effort. In part II, I'll tell you what I mean.