Intuitive eating is really just eating, but with the added skill of being mindful and aware of how your body feels aka having food freedom. Remember when you were a kid and ate without any regard with weather that food was “good” or “bad”? Intuitive eating is that. The difference is many of us need to unlearn what diet culture has taught us through the years which we can do by applying the principles of intuitive eating.
So many of us have grown up in diet culture where weight watchers and jenny Craig ruled the world. We learned so much misinformation about food like “carbs are bad” and “sugar is as bad as drugs”. DRUGS. That’s a little too far for me. Not to mention the unrealistic body standards held for women. Starving is apparently the new sexy😒.
Intuitive eating is not a diet, it’s a way of eating that honors your bodies cravings, hunger, and fullness. I know that sounds easy to do but trust me, it’s harder than it looks. Here are 10 tips to get you started on your intuitive eating journey.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!
But first, a quick note on macros and calorie counting
Macro counting and I go way back. It was one of the first “diets” I ever tried and lead me to a very toxic relationship with my body. However, it’s a bit unfair of me to blame my eating disorder on macro counting. It was more that diet culture that lead me to believe I only needed 1200 cals a day to function. Macros can actually allow a lot of people food freedom while also achieving their aesthetic goals.
Macro counting can also be a very helpful tool in learning about nutrition. Knowing the nutritional value of foods allows you to make informed decisions about what you put in your mouth. There is no getting around the fact that one must be in a calorie deficit in order to lose fat (or maybe not..).
Knowing the macros of the foods you’re eating can greatly influence your weight loss goals if that is currently one of them. You can most defiantly lose weight without counting macros, however, it may take longer the less precise you are. That is completely ok, you do you girlfriend there is no rush to health! After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
While macro counting serves its purpose, I believe intuitive eating should be the end goal for everyone. Who wants to be counting every gram for the rest of their life? Not me:) If you are tired of the numbers, start by implementing these 10 tips!
Tip #1: know what you’re working with
Know your starting point. Get curious about your beliefs around food and your body, are there any food rules? Do you value yourself based on the number on the scale? Get brutally honest with yourself here. This is a very impotant step to take if you are looking to find peace and food freedom.
To help you find out where your starting on your intuitive eating journey, I have created a worksheet for you to fill out and post on your wall. Let’s see what we’re working with!
Tip #2: the only detox you need to do
A social media detox! Not one of those BS teas. I found following women who preached weight loss and ate small amounts of food to be triggering. Especially when I was on my weight gaining journey through Hypothalamic amenorrhea which was not helpful. No shade to those women, I’m sure they are beautiful humans but they did not serve during that time in my life.
What I want you to do is go through your following list and unfollow or mute anyone who makes you feel icky about yourself. Anyone who leaves you feeling down about your body or food choices needs to go, for now. Even if thats me, I wont take it personally!
Tip# 3: read this book
The intuitive eating bible called “intuitive eating” by Evelyn Tribole. It outlines the 10 principles of intuitive eating you should follow in order to fully reap the benefits of eating freely. The 10 principles she goes over are:
- Reject the diet mentality.
- Recognise your hunger.
- Make peace with food.
- Challenge the ‘food police’
- Feel your fullness.
- Discover the satisfaction factor.
- Cope with your feelings without using food.
- Respect your body.
- Exercise to feel good
- Honour your health
Evelyn elaborates on all of these principles in her book so be sure to go grab it on amazon! Or do what I did and download the audible version;)
Tip #4: Work on body image
This is arguably the most important part of unlearning diet culture and adopting a body positive mindset. After all, the reason we diet and shame ourselves is because we think we would be better and more lovable at a smaller size.
If you are transitioning to intuitive eating because you are tired of the yo yo dieting cycle, you need to be ok with whatever happens to your body during this process. A lot of women have weight loss on their mind which can influence food choices and send you backwards. Try to put weight loss on the back burner and accept your body as it is. I have a whole blog post on working on body image you can check out here!
Tip #5: no numbers allowed
Delete it. You know what I’m taking about, that little blue app called my fitness pal (or anything similar). No hate to those apps, again, they have been helpful for me in the past to be mindful of food intake and portions sizes but now that you have a good understanding of nutrition. Delete it.
If you want to succeed at intuitive eating, there is no room for my fitness pal.
Tip #6: the hunger and fullness scale, learn it and live by it
Learn this scale below and get familiar with each number on it. You want to ideally live in the middle (not too hunger and not too full). This will prevent you from going on an all-out binge or feasting.
Of course, sometimes life happens and you may tip towards one end of the spectrum but that’s ok.
Tip #7: who’s your support system?
Tell your family and friends! Alert the media! You are embarking on a journey to health your relationship with food and your body. That deserves to be known!
In all seriousness, your family and friends can hold you accountable to your goals. They also give you a reason to keep going with it!
Tip #8: Add journaling to your routine
Get it out of your head and onto paper. Journaling and seeing your thoughts come to life on paper is next level growth. When I first started my intuitive eating journey after years of binging and restricting, it allowed me to see the rules I had around food.
I had no idea until I put it on the page! Emotions triggered binges, environments triggered binges, and the feelings of guilt lead to restriction. Journaling allows you to see the patterns that are not serving you so you can change the way you view food.
Tip #9: A food journal can be useful
One of the priciples of intuitive eating is honouring your health. Eating nutrition foods, getting your water in, adding colour to your plate is a part of honouring your body. I know for myself keeping a journal of the foods I ate lead me to discover foods that didnt satisfy me. Therefore, I didnt eat them even if they were considered “good for me”.
And likewise, you may discover you dont feel amazing after eating a plate of fries, a burger and a shake. Thats not to say dont ever eat it again but journaling how you feel after meals can help you be more mindful of food choices.
Tip #10: bonus tip from an ex binge eater – introduce foods slowly
This tip is for the over eaters out there who think they need to keep forbidden foods out of the house in order to achieve their goals. The best way to get over fear foods is by re introducing them SLOWLY! No need to overwhelm yourself by buying everything you used to binge on. Pick one and allow yourself to eat it without restriction until it’s no longer on a pedestal.
Then, move on to the next food! Make a list of those foods you don’t allow past the base of your front door and work your way to food freedom one day at a time.
Wrapping it up
Finding food freedom looks different for everyone. learning the principles of intuitive eating is one step closer to feeling more in tune with your body. Remember there is no cookie cutter way of doing this, learn what works for you and what does not and just roll with it! I hope these tips have helped you in some way or another and if you have any more that you would like to add to the list, drop em in the comments!
If you need a helping hand on your fitness journey as well, Check out my services page on ways I can help you achieve your goal! What are you waiting for?
until next time xx