I just got back from lunch at my favorite cafe. You know what’s so cool about this statement? I wouldn’t have been able to say that a few years ago. Why, you might ask? Well, it’s quite sad, really. I was too anxious to eat out at restaurants where I wasn’t in control of preparing my food, and I never went out to eat for lunch. Dinner, maybe, but lunch was too early in the day for that type of risk-taking.
But, today I am free. And it feels pretty dang good! I can choose to eat out at the last minute, unplanned and without emotional upheaval. I can walk into a restaurant without having memorized the menu prior to ordering. I can order what I want without guilt! The gate to obsessive thoughts stays bolted by my rational, healthy self.
Last week on the blog, we delved into the thought-provoking question: What kind of eater are you? We zeroed in on 3 common eating styles that manifest when people have unhealthy relationships with food and their bodies. If you haven’t yet read this post, I encourage you to give it a skim before reading on. . .
So, now that you are familiar with the Careful Eater, the Professional Dieter and the Unconscious Eater, I want to introduce you to the Intuitive Eater. But, before I do, I want to tell you more of my back story.
I used to be the Careful Eater, you see. I analyzed every morsel of food that passed my lips, got anxious when I ate ‘bad’ foods and imposed a long list of life-sucking rules on myself. For example, I could only eat at certain hours of the day, daily exercise was a must and I was only allowed desserts on the weekends. What happened if I was invited to a birthday party mid-week? I freaked out and either (A) came up with some dumb excuse not to go or (B) denied myself the pleasure of eating while jealously watching everyone else enjoy the cake. The problem was my Careful Eater had too tight of a grip on me.
Life got to a point where I was desperate for a change. My relationship with food and my body needed a swift overhaul. In waltzed Intuitive Eating. For this, I am forever grateful. I touched briefly on how Intuitive Eating changed my life in this post.
Today, I want to spell out the basics of this revolutionary eating style that can change your life. This is my secret to never dieting again!
THE BASICS OF INTUITIVE EATING
// Intuitive Eating closes the ever-widening gap between the anti-diet movement and the health community. It supports body acceptance and upholds integral health and nutrition. Intuitive Eating gives you the how-to’s of balancing healthy eating without tipping the scale into dieting and food obsession. This eating style is the answer we’ve all been searching for: a new way of eating that is free of struggle and is healthy for your body and mind.
// Intuitive Eating encourages a deep sense of connection with yourself. It supports and guides you in listening to and trusting your body. For some of us, we’ve spent years disconnected from and/or hating our bodies. Ladies, it’s time we rediscover a loving, respectful relationship with our temples.
// Rejecting the diet mentality— It’s imperative to scrap the “good food” vs. “bad food” lists. Throw out the words ‘should’ and ‘can’t’. Stop thinking from a lack mentality. This is an important first step in Intuitive Eating.
// Honor your hunger— When you are hungry, EAT! In order to ward off a blood sugar drop and potential binge, it’s important to keep yourself fuelled with ample energy (think: wholesome carbohydrates). When we are ravenous, conscious eating goes out the window. We make poorer food choices and often eat in haste and to excess. If you keep a busy schedule, make sure to have healthy, hearty snacks on hand. . . and eat them when biologically hungry!
// Make peace with food— Ready to hear the good news? You have unconditional permission to eat. Now, take this assurance to heart and throw out the diet rule book. When we deny ourselves a certain food or food group, we start to feel deprived. This leads to intense cravings and, if not respectfully honored, bingeing! If you are familiar with a binge, you know this brings on a wave of guilt, shame and regret. A yucky mess! So, make all food permissible and watch how the struggle with food resolves before your eyes.
// Feel your fullness— Mindful eating means ingesting your food in a slow, conscious, non-judgemental manner. Pause regularly throughout your meal and ask yourself, Am I still hungry? Sense whether or not you are enjoying the meal and what your level of fullness is on a scale from 0 – 10. Know that you can and will eat again when you are hungry, so there is no reason to gorge or engage in ‘Last Supper’ eating in the moment. Once you are comfortably full, push your plate slightly away from you to signal to yourself that you are indeed done.
// Discover the satisfaction factor— Food can bring so much pleasure into our lives. One of my favorite things to do each weekend is enjoy a latte and slice of cake with my husband at one of our favorite cafes. Healthy eating isn’t all about green juice and kale; it’s also about enjoyment and satisfaction. Flavor, aroma and texture all play into the art of food. I am a big believer in satisfying one’s cravings. That’s why I don’t label myself as sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan or the like. If you are afraid you’ll go overboard once you get a taste of your favorite food, go back to honoring your hunger and making peace with food. When you are adequately fuelled and truly know that you have unconditional permission to eat, you won’t need to gorge on the whole chocolate block because you can always go back for more. Later. When you’re hungry again.
So here you have it: The low down on the ultimate eating style, in my book! In this post, I touched on 5 of the 10 tips in Intuitive Eating. Leave a comment below if you want me to do a second post highlighting the other half.
Also, if you want to find out more or read about each step I listed above in more detail, I highly recommend Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I cannot speak more highly of this mindset shift and resource that literally changed my life.
ACTION: Tell me, which step that I listed above seems the most liberating to you? Do you have a story of how you improved your relationship with food or your body? I’d love for you to share in the comments!
Lots of love and happy lunching,