Is your body hungry for a change in the way you nourish yourself? However wise our intentions, meeting our nutritional needs around busy schedules, family routines and lifestyle choices can be a delicate balancing act. If you ever find yourself pushing on through a plateful of food despite feeling full, or absent-mindedly finishing the bag of lentil chips you were just going to dip into, you’ll know eating around the habits and distractions we’re accustomed to can leave us bloated and lethargic.
So how do we strive for a more a natural sense of satiety?
Eating more intuitively…
Step up an approach pioneered in 1995 by dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, whose model suggests: we carry the answers to our own nutritional needs if we can just tune in to this instinctive self-knowledge.
“Intuitive eating is a self-care eating framework that promotes a healthy attitude towards food and body image,” explains nutritional therapist Eleanor Thrupp. “It’s about trusting your body to make choices around foods that make you feel good, and come without judgement and without influence from diet culture.” Eating intuitively means rejecting all our accumulated cultural and psychological baggage around nourishing ourselves – restrictive diets, fixed schedules, received wisdoms, inherited rituals – and tuning in to what our bodies are asking for. Pretty amazing, right?
It’s about not giving yourself silly rules and really harsh restrictions but instead trying to listen to your body and ignore the external influences. Finding a way forward that gently supports your feeling of wellbeing, rather than leaving you fighting cravings or feeling constrained, is key.
Keeping a food diary to note sensations before, during and after your meals could help you work out just which current habits are truly working for you.
So whether you evolve away from firm fasting hours, or soften your vegan habits to a more flexitarian approach that feels a better fit for your body’s needs, you answer to your own inner voice rather than external rules.
Changing your mindset
Registered dietitian Tai Ibitoye is strong advocate for a holistic approach to nourishing our bodies, she supports a healthy mindset around eating. “All foods can play a part in a healthy and balanced diet,” she suggests. “Instead of focusing on what foods are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘clean’ or ‘naughty’, focus on consuming a variety of different foods that provide satisfaction, good nutrition and joy.”
Unpacking our attitudes to food can mean unpicking old habits and coping mechanisms, such as emotional eating – one pitfall many of us are familiar with.
One of the principles for intuitive eating is to honour and cope with your feelings. When some people are stressed, frustrated or sad they may use food to deal with their emotions. Though it might offer a short-term fix, it doesn’t resolve the issue. So while it’s OK to indulge occasionally with a piece of cake or an ice cream after an emotional day, it’s important to also find another way of dealing with that emotion without food. That could be going for a walk, or trying to fix the issues that are causing negative feelings.
Healthier habits for life
For the small proportion of us who could be considered ‘disordered eaters’, intuitive eating can help put disruptive thoughts around food back in their box, but whether or not you fall in this camp is a complex question. I think that’s quite hard to self-evaluate. Someone who’s obsessive in calorie counting, which I would probably regard as unhealthy behaviour, might just feel they’re watching their weight.
As with most things, it’s a subjective topic, but whatever issues you’re facing it’s important to learn how to spot the signals our bodies are sending us to enjoy the benefits of intuitive eating. We can totally support you on this one as well. There’s plenty to discover about ourselves; so, let the journey begin…
3 steps to more mindful eating
Draw in your focus
Try not to eat while you’re on your laptop, phone, reading or watching TV so you can relax and enjoy your food in the moment.
Savour each mouthful
Eat slowly, chew foods well and take time to notice the flavour and textures of food instead of rushing. This will help you to become more in tune with appetite signals and you’ll feel more satisfied with your meals.
Pay attention to fullness
When you eat, pause frequently to check in with your body. This helps you think about how the food tastes and assesses your hunger levels to see if you need more.
You are your thoughts. You’ve heard it before and it’s true! I use affirmations in my own life and use them with my clients to help them achieve a life of no food rules and intuitive eating. So, today I am going to share with you my top intuitive eating affirmations.
Say them. Write them. Think them. Pick one of these intuitive eating affirmations that really resonates with you and allow it to be your affirmation of the day or the week. Work it into your day. Allow yourself to see it, feel it and experience it!
Love & Light