I get a lot of questions about intuitive eating, like, a lot. Which I LOVE! I love that so many people are looking to break free from diet culture, stop yo-yo dieting and start living a life of food freedom! Today I wanted to share with you all the exercise that I use with my clients as a simple first step to becoming an intuitive eater.
Whenever I’m talking to someone about intuitive eating for the first time I always stress that it’s a journey that takes time. It’s totally not something that happens overnight, it takes effort. It may be frustrating along the way, since we are so engrained in diet culture these days, which is why I strongly suggest working with a registered dietitian who specializes in intuitive eating.
As a refresher, intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to eating. It is a sustainable way of eating that is free of rules and restrictions. It’s about learning to listen to and understand your body, learning how to nourish it in the best way possible while satisfying both your needs and wants. It’s about developing a positive relationship with food. All fabulous stuff, right? I think so too.
Intuitive eating has honestly been life changing for me. I’m open about my 6 year struggle with an eating disorder, which was the darkest time of my life. Even after my weight stabilized I struggled with dieting, thinking that I had to eat a certain way in order to eat “healthy”. Food consumed my thoughts. When would I eat? What would I eat? And God forbid I have to go OUT to eat! That was the worst, not being in control of every aspect of food. It wasn’t until I found intuitive eating that my relationship with food truly improved.
I don’t meal to talk about intuitive eating like it is this All Mighty being or anything. In all honesty it’s stupid simple. It’s normal eating. However, I find that this simplicity has gotten SO lost in diet culture.
So, let’s get to it. What is the ONE exercise that I recommend to my clients as a first step to becoming an intuitive eater?
Here’s how to do it: At your next meal, I want you to stop and take a second to check in with yourself at least 3 times. Here’s what to do at each timeout.
- Pre-meal: At this check in I want you to take note of your hunger level, what food you’re about to eat, how the food looks, the atmosphere you’re in, etc. Simply be present and aware.
- Mid-meal: As you eat the meal, notice how it tastes. Do you actually enjoy what you’re eating, or is it just “meh”? How has our hunger and fullness level changed? How much more food will satisfy you?
- Post-meal: As you finish the meal, ask yourself how full you are. Are you still hungry, satisfied, maybe stuffed? How did it taste? Did you enjoy what you ate the whole time? Or did you switch to autopilot and start shoveling it in?
As you do this exercise I want you to do so without judgement. I think that is the hardest part of becoming an intuitive eater and also why I recommend working with a Registered Dietitian. By repeating this exercise you’ll become more in tune with how much food your body needs in order to feel its best, what foods make you feel your best, and what foods you actually enjoy! It is SO common for me to ask a client what foods they like and for them to say “I don’t know”. That’s because we’re all so caught up in what we think we SHOULD be eating, not what we enjoy eating. So, go find out what you like! It just might surprise you.
I love this exercise because it’s discrete and no one has to know you’re doing it. It’s simply just taking a second to think about you.
What do you think? Do you think this is an exercise you can take out for a spin? I’m telling you, this is the best, most simple first step to becoming an intuitive eater!
If you want to delve deeper into intuitive eating feel free to reach out to me! I have a few individual counseling openings left for the fall season, both in-person and virtual. With all of the food-centered holidays coming up this is the perfect time to get started with intuitive eating! Feel free to check out my nutrition counseling page and fill out my contact form or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’m looking forward to helping you improve your relationship with food, find true food freedom, and have a happier life!