Tips for Intuitive Eating and Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food
Training yourself to become an intuitive eater can make the process of eating healthy easier.
Courtney Cornwall, Outrun Gravity
Everyone knows that eating healthy foods is the key to a life of wellness, but when it comes to choosing the perfect “diet,” this is often where the struggle of staying consistent begins.
Diet culture is restrictive in nature, shaming people for their choices which ultimately leads to burnout and binge eating. Instead, developing an intuitive eating approach can help you establish a healthy relationship with food.
Learn the distinction between when you’re hungry or bored
In today’s society where going out to eat is a social occasion and snacks are readily available, many of us are eating when we aren’t even hungry. It’s easy to say “yes” to something tasty in the moment but taking the time to ask yourself if you are truly hungry can help you transform your mindset and become a more intuitive eater. If you have already eaten but are feeling a craving, try to first drink some water and wait 20 minutes. If you are still feeling hungry, you can feel comfortable fueling your body.
Reflect on how you feel after meals
Introspection is a vital step of intuitive eating. After finishing a meal, take a few moments to reflect upon how you feel. You may notice that after eating a fresh salad stocked with protein, you feel confident, full, and energetic. On the other hand, that tasty cheeseburger may leave you feeling lethargic, heavy, and unmotivated. Eating foods that make you feel good will encourage you to live a more active lifestyle and the first step to establishing this routine is to reflect after you eat to determine the connection between which foods are serving you.
Don’t be hard on yourself about your cravings
Cravings are a natural part of human hunger – in fact, it is what has kept our species alive for thousands of years. Feeling a craving for something sweet or high in calories is because carbohydrates provide our bodies with the fuel to keep us alive. This was useful in the hunter-gatherer days when food was scarce and we required the biological reminder to find food, but with the abundance of foods accessible to us at all times, these cravings feel like more of a nuisance than anything.
There’s no need to feel bad about yourself for craving a cheesy slice of pizza or a rich chocolate pudding. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn about the biochemical reaction within your body creating this addictive connection to food. When you crave an unhealthy carb, instead, you can find satisfaction in making a healthier choice in the same food family, such as nutrient-dense vegetables.
Establish good eating habits by being strategic about your surroundings
Humans are easily influenced by their surroundings, so by being strategic about your environment, you can set yourself up for success in your intuitive eating journey. There are multiple ways you can craft a healthier environment, including:
- Grocery shopping only when you have a full stomach
- Only buying nutrient-dense foods from the store
- Choose to eat at restaurants with healthier menu options
- Delete DoorDash from your phone to avoid the convenience of ordering take-out
By setting up systems within your surroundings that encourage healthier eating habits, you can train your intuition to align your hunger and cravings with your desired lifestyle.
Ditch the term “designated cheat meal”
To eat intuitively is to think of food as something to fuel and nourish you, so making room for a “designated cheat meal” in your diet opposes this message. When we restrict ourselves all week for one cheat meal to binge on the weekend, the action teaches your mindset that it is okay to have a meal that opposes your diet.
Everything is fine in moderation – however, labeling a meal as “cheating” associates the habit with guilt, which can make it more difficult to remain consistent with healthy habits. When you are eating something less healthy, make sure it is absolutely worth it, and it will be. You can feel comfortable saying yes to your all-time favorite dessert if you say no to that day-old donut that you don’t really like anyway.
Training yourself to become an intuitive eater can make the process of eating healthy easier. Rather than focusing on what you’re “supposed to eat” or slaving over a popular diet, being mindful of how food makes you feel and learning to eat for fulfillment can lead to lasting results. For more tips on establishing a healthy relationship with food, check out Outrun Gravity for more advice or to schedule a free nutrition consultation.