Are you feeling overwhelmed about starting an intuitive eating practice? Believe me, I get it, it seems like a lot to take on mastering 10 principles while trying to change the way you think about food. However, it is not as hard as it seems. Today I’m giving you my top three tips for starting an intuitive eating practice.
Tips To Start Intuitive Eating
My first tip to starting an intuitive eating practice is to pay attention to your hunger. This seems so basic, but it is not. If you have been a chronic dieter or someone that emotionally eats, over time you lose that ability to sense your hunger. This happens because you either ignore the fact that you’re hungry because of certain food rules that you follow. For example, not letting yourself eat one hour after finishing a meal because you have to wait exactly four hours. Or if you follow some sort of fasting guidelines where you can’t eat until noon. Maybe you eat whenever you feel like you need comfort or an emotional release. The bottom line is, the longer you have ignored those hunger signals, the less in-tune you are with them.
Hunger Journal/ Hunger Scale
One of the best ways to get back in touch with the feeling of hunger is to use a hunger journal and a hunger scale.
- A hunger scale ranks hunger on a scale, essentially from zero to ten. Zero being absolutely famished to the point where you want to gnaw your arm off you’re so hungry. Ten is where you are so uncomfortably full, you feel like you’re going to burst. The journal acts as your accountability buddy. You can use it to track how hungry and full you are before and after meals. Ideally, according to the hunger scale, you want to eat when you’re around a three. You want to stop eating when you’re around seven.
A three is when you are noticeably hungry, and your stomach is starting to gurgle. A seven is where you’re comfortably full, not to the point of being stuffed, but you are starting to feel satisfied.
Using the journal forces you to check in with yourself every time you are about to eat. You stop and you say how hungry am I?
How Do Foods Make You Feel?
My second tip is to notice how foods make you feel. As you start to use a journal more, you can write down what you’re eating. This is helpful for a few reasons.
- First, you can start to understand what foods make you feel satisfied and full. Which foods leave you feeling hungry soon after eating. Everyone is different. Certain foods really satisfy people and leave them feeling very satiated, while other foods may not do that for the same person.
- Second, if you are dealing with inflammation, you can start to notice which foods make you feel energized and which foods make you feel like you’re flat and not feeling great. This is an excellent way to start to recognize your trigger foods or foods that might be triggering inflammation.
Journaling Will Help You Notice Patterns
- Lastly, after a while, you may start to notice patterns in the foods you eat and how you are feeling. I use this journaling method also for elimination diets when my clients are trying to figure out what their food triggers are. But this is also really helpful to us when you are learning to become an intuitive eater. For instance, you may notice that coconut, which is a typically anti-inflammatory food, may be causing you brain fog or bloating. You may want to take a step back and maybe pull that out from your diet to see if that makes you feel better. Noticing how foods make you feel can do wonders for your health and well-being. Especially if you’re battling with inflammation. If foods don’t make you feel great, you still have the decision to eat them or not. It doesn’t mean that they are bad or off-limits. However, knowing how you react to certain foods gives you the power to choose whether or not you feel like managing the after-effects.
Give Yourself Permission
My third, and final tip for starting an intuitive eating practice is to give yourself permission to eat all foods. This is probably one of the most difficult ones that people face because it’s really hard. Based on our diet culture we are told not to eat certain foods. Certain foods are bad, other foods are good, we put them in these black and white categories. Being an intuitive eater means that you’re giving yourself permission to eat all foods. This doesn’t mean that you have to eat all foods, but by doing this, the novelty of the off-limit or bad foods goes away.
Think about it this way. Let’s say brownies are your trigger foods, you cannot keep brownies in the house because you literally can’t control yourself around them. Then one day your neighbor drops off a fresh batch of warm, amazingly smelling brownies. Within minutes, they are gone, you’ve eaten the entire pan. This is because you place brownies on a pedestal. Now, if you were to give yourself permission to eat brownies, whenever you want, that novelty disappears. You may go crazy for the first few days and eat brownies around the clock. But eventually, those brownies are not going to taste as good as you think they do. And you’ll probably not feel great after eating a ton of brownies. By giving yourself permission to eat all foods, it breaks that vicious binge restrict cycle that dieting puts us on.
We all want what we can’t have, right? So if you can have it, there is no need to binge on these foods anymore. Becoming an intuitive eater takes time and practice. If you focus on these three elements, tapping into your hunger, noticing how foods make you feel, and giving yourself permission to eat all foods, you will be well on your way to a solid Intuitive eating practice. For more tips on intuitive eating, the anti-inflammatory diet, ways to manage your autoimmune or inflammatory conditions please contact me to set up a free discovery call. You can also follow me on Instagram at @the.autoimmune.dietitian or Facebook at @annierubinnutrition or my website.