Intuitive Eating, The Real Deal.

Taylor Smith – CHOP5 Wellness & Nutrition Blogger

What if someone told you that there is a super easy and fast way to lose weight?  What if they told you they have ‘special weight loss hacks,’ or a pill you can take?  Would you be willing to do anything that could potentially harm your body? Or leave you with unhealthy habits for potential short-term results (if anything at all)?

I really hope you would say no to all those questions.  To my dismay, the reality is that most people will say yes and take ‘shortcuts’ to get in shape.  To save your time, energy and sanity, I’m here to tell you that the shortcuts are NOT the answer. 

Personal Experience with ‘Health Hacks’

Based on personal experiences, I know that hacks do not work.  Unfortunately, in the past I have restricted myself from certain foods and limited the quantities I allowed myself to consume.  I have exercised until I felt dizzy and the sun went down.  Yeah, sure you may see results in the very short term, but at what cost? Your physical and mental well-being?

I developed an eating disorder that led to the restrict-binge cycle that took years away from my life and me as a person.  That deteriorated my body and left me as a shell of a person for a long time.

Intuitive eating saved me. It allowed me to develop a healthy relationship with food again.  It brought light back into my eyes and the Taylor everyone knew and loved.  It gave me a way to sustain my physical and mental health for the long haul.

WHY Intuitive Eating is the Answer!

Now you may say, “that’s wonderful for you that intuitive eating repaired your relationship with food, but it’s not for me.  I don’t have an eating disorder or problem with food.”  To that I would say, you do NOT need to have an eating disorder or anything of such nature to eat intuitively.  Intuitive eating is FOR EVERYONE!  I recommend it for anyone who wants to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle long-term and who wants to feel and look their best!

What is Intuitive Eating?

Ok, awesome, so what is intuitive eating, you may ask?  Well, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, “intuitive eating is about trusting your body to make food choices that you feel are good for you, without judging yourself or the influence of diet culture.”  IE (intuitive eating) is a non-dieting approach to changing your eating habits, which is why it works for the long-term.  Specifically, intuitive eating is a self-care eating framework that integrates instinct, emotion and rational thought. 

In other words, intuitive eating is essentially what is natural for us all when we’re born.  When we’re little, we eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full.  Somewhere along the way most of us have lost/stopped listening to that instinct and possibly sabotaged our relationships with food.  Intuitive eating is bringing us back to that instinct.

HOW to Eat Intuitively!

Now that you understand what intuitive eating is, here are some tips to guide you on your intuitive eating journey:

  • You do not need to put all of the food on your plate at the same time.  Eat the food you have first and if you’re still hungry you can go back for seconds.  Intuitive eating requires you to listen to how your body is feeling.  If you want it, you can have it.  There are no restrictions.  And if you don’t, that’s okay too.  Do not feel obligated to finish everything on your plate if you’re satisfied.
  • More times than not, a lot of us ‘eat our emotions.’  We may eat our emotions without even realizing it.  In times of sadness, boredom, excitement, happiness, etc., take a minute to ask yourself if you’re hungry or just eating to eat?
  • If you’re not sure if you’re still hungry or not, you should wait about 20 minutes to allow your stomach to digest the food.  Then, reevaluate if you are hungry or not.
  • Think about what kind of food you feel like.  Crispy, crunchy or soft? Warm or cold? Light or comforting?  Think about how you want to feel after and what types of food can fulfill that feeling for you.
  • You may be in a situation or on the go where you cannot just have any food that you crave.  So, to be prepared, I suggest packing food/snacks, but know that you’re not obligated to eat them.  Also, you can still eat intuitively even if you are given limited food options.  Think about what sounds best to you in the moment out of the given options.
  • When you eat intuitively you do not restrict any foods.  All foods are welcomed! Remember intuitive eating is NOT a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.  If you want/crave dessert or something perceived as ‘unhealthy’, you should honor that feeling.  The key is everything in moderation, and that goes back to listening to your body’s hunger cues.  Eating all foods in moderation is the key to not entering the restrict-binge cycle and having a healthy relationship with food.
  • You may say, well if I listen to my cravings, I would be eating junk all the time!  However, when you allow yourself to have any type of food when you want it and you know you can have it again any time you want, your body will adjust and not crave it all the time.
  • It’s super important not to compare what/how much you eat to other people.  Your body may need more or less than others.  It depends on a lot of different factors from biological to lifestyle. 

All in all, I urge you to try intuitive eating for yourself.  Give yourself grace.  Adapting to a new way of approaching food takes time.  Learning what works best for you takes trial and error.  Intuitive eating looks different for everyone!  It’s so worth it, I promise you.

New Year’s Intentions Update – July:

This month marks the first full month of summer for me! I finished my sophomore year of college and am officially a junior! Crazy how fast time flies.  As I get older, I realize the importance of maintaining relationships with your people.  The people who reciprocate your effort and energy.  Who feel like a breath of fresh air. Who make your life better.  It’s so easy to get caught up in school, work and other adult things.  But relationships are critical.  So, as my camera roll and memories prove, I have followed through on my new year’s intention of prioritizing my friends and social time.  I have reached out to them just to stay in touch and planned adventures or times to catch up.  Here is a picture of me and some friends having a car picnic while watching the sunset in Boulder!