Jenny's 4 Tips for Intuitive Eating

adults sharing food

I’ve introduced what Intuitive Eating is, what it is not, and why I use this approach with clients. Now I’m going to share my top 4 tips for practical ways you can start to implement the concepts of Intuitive Eating into your daily routine:

  1. Take weight loss off the table.

Weighing encourages dieting behaviors. If you see a number on the scale you are unhappy with, it will likely lead to reacting with food in a way that leaves you with feelings of shame or guilt, further sending you on the downward dieting spiral. Trying to change our body harms our relationship with food. It interferes with our ability to listen to our hunger cues and to trust ourselves with food.

So, when you find yourself wishing you could change your body size, take a moment to reflect on that. Ask yourself where that desire to change is coming from and what you are truly looking for. Often there is a deeper meaning to your desire for losing weight. Once you uncover it, you can start to focus on other ways to get the result you truly are wanting without dieting and feeling disconnected with food and your body.

  1. Stop depriving yourself.

I promise, the more you avoid a food, the more you’re going to want it. This has nothing to do with willpower, this is biology! Not to get too “science-y” on you, but when you restrict food, your body reacts by firing up chemicals produced in the brain that trigger your urge to eat or binge on certain foods. Often, these certain foods come in the form of high carbohydrate foods which is partly why carbohydrates have such a bad rap and are viewed as foods we should be limiting – because they are our go-to binge food during times our diet fails us!

Instead of avoiding certain foods, make peace with all food and give yourself unconditional permission to eat. So, what does this mean? This means you reject the idea of there being "good," "bad," or "off-limit" foods. You eat the foods you truly want and enjoy, without the means to compensate by later restricting food or over-exercising. Giving yourself permission is a stepping stone process toward building trust with food and with yourself.

  1. Don’t just eat for physical hunger.

When embracing Intuitive Eating, we start to really focus on identifying our hunger cues and decide if our drive to eat is that of a physical, biological need, or an emotionally driven hunger. It’s very important that we honor our hunger cues when we feel them and trust we are allowed to eat when our body is telling us we need to. Dieting tells us otherwise, and we need to overcome those dieting thoughts and behaviors to make peace with food.

One thing you want to watch is turning Intuitive Eating into a diet by setting strict rules of only eating when you’re physically hungry and stopping at the first sign of fullness. While you do need to primarily eat based on biological hunger, you also need avoid applying rigid rules with eating. Instead, work on finding acceptance with the fact that sometimes you will need to eat at times that it doesn’t feel like true physical hunger, and that’s okay! Diet culture tells us that eating for pleasure is wrong, however it’s a very normal thing to do. We need to trust our inner voice asking for food and give ourselves permission to eat. When we start applying rules and restrictions, that’s when dieting behaviors can start to resurface. 

  1. Be open-minded & patient.

Don’t get sucked back into the dieting world despite what people around you are doing. It’s so easy to fall back into the diet trap when you see others getting praise for their restrictive ways or if you see changes in their body. During these times, you have to remember to ask yourself “what is going to happen to them in the next 6 months, year, decade, etc”. You can almost guarantee that their diet will fail them and they will have likely regained the weight they lost. They might have developed unhealthy behaviors and relationships with food & their body, and possibly even new, worsened health problems. While you’d never want to wish these outcomes on anyone, it’s the inevitable outcomes experienced through dieting. Keep in mind that the temporary, short term payoff dieting brings will not outweigh the longer lasting negative effects.

Gaining your intuitive nature toward food & eating takes times. It’s a learning process full of winding curves that might feel like you will never reach your destination. However, reminding yourself to have patience, and that you will be in a better & more lasting place with your food, your mind, and your body will encourage you to stay the path with Intuitive Eating.  

I help clients to break free of the rules and restrictions that come with diets in order to find freedom and enjoyment with food. So, if this concept is speaking to you, I encourage you to set up a FREE 15 minute Meet the RD session to learn how we can work together to find balance and develop long-term lifestyle habits.

Read her other blogs: What is Intuitive Eating All About? and Why Do I Use Intuitive Eating?

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