What is intuitive eating all about?

We are all born with an innate ability to know when we're hungry, eat the food we choose and stop eating when satisfied. This cycle of eating repeats itself throughout the day, and our body naturally guides us around food: when, what and how much to eat. That is before rules, diets and beliefs come in the picture!

Imagine a young child, before he was repeatedly told to "finish everything on your plate or you can't leave the table!", or "eat your vegies or there'll be no ice cream for you!". Before he was told to eat more or finish his food to get a reward, the child was attuned to his body cues: he knew and trusted his body to guide him around what and how much he wants to eat at any given meal. Then rules such as "eat everything or you can't leave the table" came along created a disconnection from his ability to listen and follow his body cues. The child now felt that he must do as he is told or else he will be punished, and he began to eat past the level of fullness, he now left the table uncomfortably full, while being rewarded for doing so (by his parents for e.g.)

Intuitive eating is about prioritizing your own body experience - you are the expert of your body, as only your know how you feel physically, only you know your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Only you can know how hungry you are and what food will satisfy you - no expert can possibly know that!

Diets and the diet culture has strict rules from "experts" that we try to abide by, and in doing so we lose connection from our body experience, our body cues and personal needs. Suddenly the rule "Don't eat carbs" overrides our natural craving for carbohydrates - the main source of fuel for our brain, red blood cells, and an important source of fibre for our gut health. Our body says one thing and our mind is stuck on the new rule. This disconnect between the two creates confusion, stress and anxiety for many.

Becoming an intuitive eater is about rebelling against diet culture (a natural psychological response to deprivation, which shows that you are standing up for what is right for you) and giving yourself permission to explore how food makes you feel. Pleasure and satisfaction are at the centre of intuitive eating, your mission is to honour your body needs while you honour your health and wellbeing without strict rules.

It's all about FEELING GOOD not about trying to BE GOOD.

I love this summary of what intuitive eating is by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch in the Intuitive Eating Workbook:

“Intuitive Eating is a dynamic mind-body integration of instinct, emotion, and rational thought. It is a personal process of honouring your health by paying attention to the messages of your body and meeting your physical and emotional needs. It is an inner journey of discovery that puts you front and centre; you are the expert of your own body. After all, only you know your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Only you know how hungry you are and what food or meal will satisfy you. No diet plan or guru could possibly know these things.”

Intuitive eating naturally makes sense! For example, while pregnant you may find yourself craving certain food and feeling appalled by other foods. In this very instance, you are paying attention and following your body cues. You are trusting your body to guide you, while you also know that goof nutrition is essential, so you try to find ways to meet your requirements while respecting your body changes. This is intuitive eating! Nutrition knowledge and your body experience come together to inform your eating in this phase of life.

You may also notice that the nausea settles when you eat regularly without long gaps between meals - this has been my experience! - In which case you plan small regular meals to support your wellbeing.

If you are ready to embark on a journey of freedom, wellbeing and enjoyment while achieving your health goals reach out and let's get started!