By Erin McKenna, RDN, CDN
Intuitive eating is primarily based on listening to your own body and hunger cues. Intuitive eating is about creating a healthy relationship with food, mind and body. It’s an approach that focuses on separating yourself from the diet mentality or the all or nothing approach. We should be eating to nourish our body with good and healthful food, but still eat the foods we enjoy and may consider “bad”.
To become an intuitive eater you have to focus on trusting your hunger and satiety cues. You should be feeding your body when it is truly hungry, but also trust your instincts about when you’re full.
Emotional and mindless eating is a habit that builds up over time. Many people eat because they’re bored, stressed, sad, mad, or anxious. Intuitive eating is about being in tune with your body and asking yourself, am I really hungry? Am I bored? Am I emotional (anxious, sad, mad, etc.)? If you’re not hungry, acknowledge what emotion you are feeling. If you feel anxious maybe you need to get some fresh air, talk with a friend, or go for a walk. If you are truly hungry, eat! Don’t wait too long either; when you enter a meal overly hungry, mindful eating goes right out the window and you may over indulge.
Here are some tips to help you practice mindful and intuitive eating:
- Sit down while you eat, free of distractions such as the TV or computer.
- Avoid excessive hunger by eating three set meals with 2-3 snacks per day. It is very important not to skip meals.
- Examine your food, smell it and taste it. How does it taste? What is the texture? What does it look like or smell like?
- Take your time and give yourself 20 minutes to eat. As you’re eating, notice how your body is feeling. Eat until you are satisfied, not overly full. Stop at a place where you are comfortable.
- Remind yourself that if you get hungry again, you are allowed to have more food. You just have to be in tune with your body. Some people set “rules” – for example, I am not allowed to eat past 7 pm. Says who? If you are truly hungry, you may need a nighttime snack.
For more information about intuitive eating go to www.intuitiveeating.com.
Erin McKenna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients. She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.