I hope you will use this intuitive eating guide as a cheatsheet to help you eat intuitively and heal your relationship to food and your body. Below, you’ll find a quick guide to un-learning the rules diet culture has convinced us of (I can’t eat this, I have to work out because I ate xyz, I can only eat before x:xx pm, etc) and instead learn to trust your own body and innate wisdom. I think you’ll find you are less stressed and happier overall. You’ll also develop a greater sense of body awareness to help you feel confident and full of energy.
What is intuitive eating?
The short answer is that it’s listening to your body to guide your food and exercise choices. It’s giving the hell up on self-control, so you have room for self-care and compassion. It’s about listening to and honoring your needs in a way that fills your soul. It’s about giving up all food and exercise rules so that you can learn to trust your body’s innate wisdom. Imagine how much freed up energy you will have if you stop trying to control your body!!
Do you want to download a PDF of this intuitive eating guide so you can hang it on your fridge or access it anytime? Click the image below for access!
Ask yourself, “Where am I on the hunger scale?”.
When you first start feeling stomach hunger, that is your body telling you it needs nourishment and that is a good time to eat. Note that it can take time to re-learn to notice stomach hunger so don’t get frustrated if you don’t.
If you are wanting to eat but you are not hungry, ask yourself what it is that you need right now (comfort, belonging, etc). What do you want to feel like? Imagine what it would be like to have that feeling. Is there something else besides eating that would give you that feeling? If you still want to eat, allow yourself to have what you want without judgement.
Conversely, if you are not wanting to eat but know that you are physically hungry (restricting), ask yourself what it is that you need right now. What do you want to feel like? Imagine what it would be like to have that feeling. Is there something else besides restricting that would give you that feeling?
Decide what you want to eat
Ask yourself, “what would I eat if I allowed myself to have absolutely anything in the world?”. What would be the most satisfying food choice? What would it be like to always trust my body to tell me what and how much to eat? Try to imagine exactly what it is and how much you would like to eat. Will it leave you satisfied, energetic and present?
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat it
What would it be like to trust your body to know exactly what, how much, and when to eat? No food rules…no dieting…no restricting or deprivation.
Eat with awareness
Notice the temperature, texture, color and smell of your food before eating it. Think of how grateful you are to have this food to eat. Take a few deep breaths, slow down and turn off distractions (TV, phone, etc). Stay present.
Take a bite. Notice the flavor and how it feels in your mouth and as it moves through your body. Continue eating at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
After several bites, check in with your hunger levels. Am I comfortably full and satisfied or do I need to keep eating in order to be fully energized and satisfied? How much more food would feel good in my body?
Notice how the food feels in your body and heart
Scan your body and notice how it feels. Am I satisfied and energetic? Am I bloated, achy or low on energy? Do I feel overly full, just right, or still hungry? Is there anything I’d change next time I eat this to feel better or do I feel just right?
Express gratitude and self-compassion
Remind yourself how grateful you are to be able to provide your body the nourishment it needs. Have compassion for yourself if you feel like the process didn’t go perfectly. What would it be like to put your energies towards reaching your goals and being the best version of yourself rather than obsessing over your appearance or food choices? When you look back on your life, what will you be proud of? Will your body and what you ate really matter that much to you?
I love the way Haley, from Brewing Happiness put’s it “if you went through a breakup and want to eat ice cream in bed for a day then DO IT. Comfort food is apart of our lives. It shouldn’t be the norm, but if your soul needs some cookies – eat the dang cookie. That is why I want to rename it The Self Kindness Anti-Diet (TM). We should be eating like our bodies are our best friends. Which most of the times means feeding it real, whole foods that give us energy to kickass and enjoy each moment. But it also sometimes means eating the dang candy bar because life is hard and being an adult sucks.”
Intuitive Eating is a journey and it takes time to un-learn the messages we have received from diet culture. Trust and be gentle with yourself throughout the process.
Decide if you feel like moving your body
If you do, what is your motivation? Are you moving because it would feel good? Or are you moving to compensate for what you ate or how you look?
Decide what type of movement would feel good
You don’t have to go to a gym in order to move your body. If that’s what your body needs, by all means, please do so. I sometimes love the gym and other times have absolutely no interest in going. You can walk, stretch, dance, do yoga, play sports, roller blade, run, lift weights, do a workout video, take a class, etc.
Which type of movement would feel the best? Are you sore? Maybe yoga. Do you need to release some pent up energy? Maybe run. Are you sort of tired but know what movement would feel good? Maybe go for a walk. Does your body need rest? Sit on the couch and don’t feel bad about it!
Notice how you feel while moving
Does this movement actually feel good? Would it feel good to keep moving? Allow yourself to stop whenever your body feels ready to. If that’s 5 minutes after you start running, who cares! Listen to your body. Maybe you decide after 5 minutes, walking would feel better. Or maybe you realize how great it feels and want to keep going.
Notice how you feel after
How does my body and heart feel? Am I relaxed, yet alert and energized? Am I lethargic or uncomfortable? How are my stress levels? Do I feel better or worse than before?