The utopian dream
Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach where the type and amount of food depend entirely on the needs of the body. You listen to your body’s intuition and eat whatever you feel like eating. It sounds simple and natural. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, we often lose connection with our bodies.
The media, social networks, and all the distorted information, with a commercial purpose, encourages us to follow certain disruptive diets, to eat only low-calorie foods, special protein bars, and drink coke without sugar.
On the other hand, the abundance of all the seducing “junk” foods, full of sodium glutamate are so addictive that make us want more and more.
Until recently, “intuitive eating” seemed to me like something utopian. Too good to be possible. After all, I decided that listening to my body and being in harmony was worth a try. I followed a few simple rules that helped me achieve this balance.
First rule is that there are no “junk” foods
I stopped dieting. I had to erase from my brain all the knowledge about dirty foods, junk foods, calories, etc. Intuitive eating is all about making peace with food. I gave myself unconditional permission to eat. End of restrictions, end of forbidden foods, end of “cheat” days, end of calorie counting. If I feel I want to eat something, it means that I need it and it is healthy for me.
Of course, many people would be skeptical of this one. As a friend of mine told me after I shared this idea with her: “This means living only on pizza and chocolate.” Actually, this is not true. When you are on a restrictive diet and you feel like eating chocolate, but instead you eat two chicken fillets with lettuce, the hunger for chocolate remains. And soon you will wonder what is wrong with you and where this primal drive to overeat comes from. In fact, nothing is wrong, your body is just searching for ways to satisfy its needs. Similarly, if we do an experiment and eat only carbohydrates for a few days, such as chocolate, hunger will not vanish. We will still be hungry, because the body will need protein and fat.
If we have completely lost the connection with our body, we will be hungry almost all the time, because the body will not be nourished. That is why it is highly recommended to have a diversified diet at the beginning of the intuitive eating journey.
Second rule is to listen and observe
If I feel hungry, I first ask myself what I want to eat, list a few things on my mind, and choose. In the process of eating, I try to eat slowly and appreciate the taste. I observe and look for the moment when I feel comfortably full and satisfied. Ever since I was a child, I was brought up to eat everything on my plate and not “leave my luck”. And I had made it a habit to finish my portion, whether or not I felt full, even if that meant stuffing myself. It was very difficult to get rid of this habit. However, I started to notice when I’m no longer hungry and even if I have only one bite left, I refuse to use my body as a trash can. Because if I don’t eat that last bite, it goes there – in the trash can.
And after I eat, I observe again. This time I observe my body. How does it feel, do I have energy from what I ate, how long does it keep me full? I don’t focus too much on it, but I try to get to know myself better.
Third rule – food for the soul
We all know that our body needs nutritious food that provides the necessary ingredients to be healthy and work optimally. However, not only our body but our soul also needs food. It is quite normal and natural to want to have chips or ice-cream or cake from time to time. And there is nothing wrong with that. Just a great opportunity to enjoy them.
I ate chips last night. I went to the store, but I couldn’t decide which one, so I bought two big packages. Something I was not able to do for many years. Not without feeling guilt or fear. It was unthinkable to keep food at home, especially “junk” food. In general, any grocery shopping was like an exam. And I secretly hoped that one day I would be able to buy “junk” foods without being afraid of them.
But today I know that sometimes my soul needs chips. And I will eat as much as I need. And even if it does not give me the necessary nutrients, it will give me happiness, pleasure, and freedom. Here it is important to mention that there is a slight difference between food for the soul and emotional eating. I will write a separate post about it.
Where should I start from
At first, I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t know when I was hungry, when I wasn’t, or what I wanted to eat. In general, I thought I wanted to eat high-calorie sugary foods, but I knew that this was not intuitive eating but rather a delusion. That’s why I started to build the habit of eating at least 3 times a day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most of the days I also had 2 snacks. I tried to eat at the same time every day, but I also observed myself and tried not to stay hungry for long. However, the ultimate goal was to be able to know when I am hungry, and when I am full.
I ate as varied as possible. I included all three main macronutrients – protein, fat, carbohydrates in every meal. My food was always delicious – for the full satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. I stopped eating food just because it is healthy. I started making informed decisions, you can hear more about it here.
As for the quantity of the food, because I had no idea how much is the normal quantity, I had a few little tricks. If I didn’t eat alone, I ate as much as the buddy I have lunch/dinner with if she was a female, and less if he was a male. If I was alone, in most cases I ate the whole portion, and if I eventually thought it was bigger, I used the moment to learn to “leave my luck”. But more importantly, I didn’t criticize myself. I knew this was the right path. I didn’t judge myself, I was grateful.
It took me a few months
to start listening to my body and get in touch with it. I realized that knowing yourself and being in harmony with yourself is a huge asset. Intuitive eating is one of the key factors for this. It brings happiness and peace. In addition, I think it is the healthiest choice. After all, our body knows better than us what it needs. We just have to learn to listen and trust it.