What is Intuitive Eating + More Importantly: How To Intuitively Eat

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Switching to intuitive eating has led me to the best mental, physical, and emotional shape I’ve ever been in. I do need to clarify: intuitive eating is not dieting. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not about trying to control your weight or what you look like but rather about helping you to feel good from the inside. If you’re looking for a quick fix – this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a massive, positive, shift in your mindset, your body and your life? You’re in the right place. I’m going to break down “what is intuitive eating” and, more importantly, how to do it.

As a reminder: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be! Any claims in this article are based on my personal experience and research. Please read my full medical disclaimer before engaging with my content, suggestions, or anecdotes. Also, as a reminder, this post may contain affiliate links to certain products, and I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you make a purchase based off my suggestions.

What is Intuitive Eating + More Importantly: How To Intuitively Eat

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is one of the most natural things that we can do as humans. As babies, before our mind entered the mix, we would cry when we were hungry. We would also stop eating when we were full. Intuitive eating goes out the window with age and influence. The older we get the more outside influences start to sway us when it comes to, “what to eat”. From parents telling us to finish our meal to new studies villainizing different foods to “rules” for eating to diet fads to workout trends and so much more. 

Intuitive eating is shutting out the noise. Click to Tweet

The first step in ridding my mindset of the noise was to eliminate certain concepts that I had adopted over the years around weight, food, and movement. The main things that had to go were:
•calorie counting
•food tracking apps
•the idea of “bad” food
•micromanaging my movement

The second step in ridding my mindset of the noise was to focus on how I felt more than what I thought. At the end of the day – I want to FEEL GOOD IN MY BODY. And intuitive eating has helped me to achieve that. Over the last two years I have felt better in my body than I have in the 33 years prior.

I have never looked, or felt, better in my body and my skin literally glows now, no makeup necessary!

What is Intuitive Eating + More Importantly: How To Intuitively Eat

While the idea of intuitive eating is as old as humans are – there are also two women (Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch) who have really dug into intuitive eating as a lifestyle concept. They’ve published heaps of books and workbooks (linked below) on intuitive eating. Most recently, the fourth edition of their “Intuitive Eating” book was released. 

What is Intuitive Eating + More Importantly: How To Intuitively Eat

What is Intuitive Eating – To Me

When it came to intuitive eating for me, it was just that.. intuitive. Initially I made the shifts that my soul was calling for. I started walking more and swimming more. I started eating breakfast and skipping coffee (the opposite was what I did for years). I started to lean into my cravings, asking my body “what are you trying to show me”. When I was craving sweets, it was because I was feeling like I needed more sweetness in my life. When I was craving salt, it was (ironically), because I needed to hydrate more. 

I started to develop a relationship between my mind, body, and soul. I can now dip into a meditative state and ask my body, “what do you need from me to support you today?”

A great example of intuitive eating, for me, was recently when I found myself with a headache for the first time in a long time. Instead of reaching for Tylenol (which, yes, would have made the headache go away but is also the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States) .  I asked my body, “what do you need from me right now?” The answer was fruit juice, magnesium, and salt. So, I made myself a juice with mango, orange, and strawberries, added some magnesium drops and a bit of flake salt. Within 15 minutes the headache was gone. 

We have become so accustomed to quick fixes for our bodies that we have forgotten the things we are fixing quick are signals that our body is sending us to tell us that something is off. Intuitive eating can help to turn back “on” the things that are “off” in our bodies. Click to Tweet

A headache isn’t just something to “take some Tylenol to make go away” – it’s a signal that there’s an imbalance in our body. In this case, for me, it was that my body needed minerals (magnesium and sodium) and nutrients (potassium, folate, and Vitamin C from fruit). 

I don’t like to lean on supplements and a large part of my intuitive eating journey was to ditch the idea of supplements. I find that supplements have a better reputation but are essentially the same thing as pharmaceuticals and other “quick fix” fads. However, there is a time and a place for everything. I’ll happily lean on a magnesium supplement, over a pharmaceutical, any day.

What is Intuitive Eating + More Importantly: How To Intuitively Eat

How to Eat Intuitively 

Truthfully, Evelyn and Elyse describe intuitive eating better than I ever could! I’m still working on how to articulate the things that I feel, intuitively. So, in the interim, I’ll be citing their Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating below as a “how to” guide and including my own anecdotes.

Reject the Diet Mentality

Studies show that 95% of diets fail and restrictive eating, typically, leads to weight gain. What’s worse? That 5% “success” rate – typically leaves the person with distorted eating patterns and habits. The science shows us that diets don’t work, so the first step in intuitive eating is to not to this to ourselves.

A big shift happened for me when I ditched the word, “diet” and adopted a new, “lifestyle”.

Honor Your Hunger

I’m actually appalled to admit that for years I leaned into my hunger thinking that, “if I’m hungry and I don’t eat, my body will eat more of its fat”. Our bodies are way more intelligent than we give them credit for. If we’re hungry – it’s a sign that we need to eat! Now, I support my metabolism through eating (healthy metabolisms create hunger in humans!) instead of starving myself. Ironically, I eat more now than I ever did – but I’m the lowest weight I’ve been in nearly two decades. 

Make Peace with Food

This was one of the hardest things to do as, for years, I villainized certain foods. Pasta, bread, sugary treats, even FRUIT was considered, “bad”. I had to retrain my mind to understand that there really aren’t, “bad foods” but rather, “bad ingredients”. You can read more about that in my article, 7 Ingredients I Avoid at all Costs – Even in Organic Foods

Making peace with food, for me, was about ditching “cheat days” or “cheat meals”. Reframing “treating myself” as just enjoying myself. Allowing myself to eat pasta, pizza, and dessert without feeling like I needed to “make up for it” by starving myself the next day. 

What is Intuitive Eating + More Importantly: How To Intuitively Eat

Challenge the Food Police

When it comes to our societal programming around food – we must challenge our own mindset about “good” vs “bad” food. Often my inner critic would come up to tell me that I would “regret eating that tomorrow” or that I “shouldn’t eat all those calories”. Reprogramming that mindset, for me, would be replying to that inner critic saying, “those thoughts don’t serve the life I want to live” or “I am allowed to enjoy food without guilt”. 

In many instances, we also must stand firmly in our truth with others, as well. When I ditched seed/vegetable oils for raw, unpasteurized, butter I received a lot of backlash from friends and family. I knew, in my heart and soul, that the switch I made was the best switch for me. And that’s what I held onto. 

Our choices, especially intuitive choices, will always be challenged. Leaning into your intuition, holding onto your truth, and knowing that everyone is on their own journey can help to save you a lot of time and frustration.

Feel your Fullness

We have been practically trained to overeat. ESPECIALLY in the U.S. We have giant portions and gluttonous attitudes, typically eating way past being, “full”.

Checking in with our bodies to notice “how full am I?” as we eat can help us from overeating. This is something that, even two years after adopting intuitive eating, I still must put into practice. Many times, my eyes are way bigger than my stomach. I find myself making huge plates of food that I can only finish half of. Instead of finishing the food because its on the plate – I wrap it up and have it later.

Discover the Satisfaction Factor

This concept is one of my favorites because it really shifted so much for me when it comes to intuitive eating. Leaning into how do I feel after eating certain things led me to realize that a lot of the things I was eating made me feel like shit. In the past, much of my eating was aligned with escaping my emotions. I would lean on food that maybe had an organic label but was full of garbage ingredients otherwise. Those “foods” didn’t make me feel good! Noticing that certain ingredients didn’t make me feel good made it easier to stay away from those ingredients. 

What is Intuitive Eating + More Importantly: How To Intuitively Eat

Cope with Your Emotions Without Using Food

At the end of 2020 I really ate my emotions. I was trying to stay afloat with a relationship that was ending and a lot of family issues surrounding my brother’s addiction at the time. I was feeling, emotionally, like I needed support. Instead of supporting myself through healthier outlets, I really leaned on comfort carbs. They weren’t so comforting after I gained 20lbs in two months. 😅

Moving into 2021, as I started to lean on intuitive eating, I started to notice when I would be feeling out of balance. Instead of leaning on food, I would lean on yoga, going for a walk, journaling my feelings, meditation or breathwork. Cultivating my toolbox of practices to help me maintain a positive mindset helped me to remove, “food” from that toolbox.

Respect Your Body

I was CONSTANTLY criticizing my body. It was such a toxic relationship for my poor body that has fought so hard to stay healthy, despite all the things I put it through over the years. At the beginning of 2021 I had a massive perspective shift with how I viewed my body. Even at nearly 50lbs overweight – I saw and appreciated its beauty. My feminine curves. My soft skin. I started to deeply appreciate how my body has worked so hard to hold me throughout the years. 

Instead of ridiculing my abdominal area for being “too big”.. I thanked it for holding the weight of the emotions that I wasn’t mentally present enough with to process in a healthier manner. Instead of shaming my body for having cellulite – I acknowledged that approximately 85% to 90% of post-pubertal females have cellulite.

Another jarring statistic that helped me to criticize my body less was learning that healthy women have between 20% and 30% body fat. The stick thin physique I had always wanted (that would be nearly impossible to achieve with my body structure) was actually unhealthy.

Leaning on facts and leaning away from societal programming and the concepts of “beauty” that are portrayed in the media helped me to find a deep respect, and love, for my body.

Exercise But Feel the Difference 

When I first joined the gym in 2018 to “lose weight”. However, when shifting into intuitive eating – I was moving to feel good in my body. I stopped tracking how many calories I was burning. I stopped doing the high intensity workouts I had previously been accustomed to. Higher intensity workouts have the potential to raise cortisol, the stress hormone, which could lead to weight gain

I started walking more, doing yoga more, swimming more. All of these movements helped me to feel so good in my body that they give me a natural high!

Honor Your Health

I love this final piece of the ten steps of intuitive eating because it focuses on the goal to have the same emotional response regardless of what you eat. Eating what tastes good but also feels good. Movement in a way that feels good during it and leaves you feeling good after it. At the end of the day, all food isn’t created equally and all movement isn’t, either. However, we can feel equally good when we lean on our intuition for movement and consumption. 

Life is about balance – eat the salad but also eat the gelato.

Since switching to intuitively eating I have never felt so good: mentally, physically, and emotionally. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, my main motivator for intuitively eating was to feel good in my body. Looking good in my body and feeling good in my soul are just added bonuses of the overall intuitive lifestyle.✨

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  1. Jimmy
    July 13, 2023 / 8:27 pm

    This is a well researched and well articulated article about a lifestyle that’s in tune with the body and mind while enjoying meals that are healthy and fulfilling.
    I’ll recommend this to everyone

    • jackie
      July 17, 2023 / 3:34 pm

      thanks so much for taking the time to read it, Jimmy! As well as for coming to comment, I appreciate the support!

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