Intuitive Eating: Know When And How Much To Eat
Hey, tough soul. I’m Alyssa.
Do you have a hard time finding the sweet spot between overeating or feeling hungry all the time?
In the modern days we are no longer suffered from trying to get food. There will always have some snacks that you can reach by an arm-length, something too tasty to reject even if you had just finished your lunch. As result, we often ended up overeat. And then it leads people to another end. Those that realize that they need to lose weight and seek out dieting plans. However, once they get started, they stumbled into the rabbit hole of restricted dieting. No way out since then.
This is the dilemma most of us facing when it comes to food. No matter which spectrum you are, the fact is that modern people had slowly lost the ability to identify our true hunger. Me too, there was a part in my life when I was too tired with calorie counting but feel guilty everytime I overeat.
Then thing goes better after I started intuitive eating.
Intuitive Eating Is In Everyone
Intuitive eating is when let your appetite guide you instead of your mind. The guidance is within your own body. There is no restriction on what you should or shouldn’t eat, but you also acknowledge when your hunger is gone.
In fact, everyone is born with an instinctive nature towards food that help you make decision to eat or not to eat. However, most of us growing up forget to look at what our body really needs at that moment. Instead, people nowadays mostly found themselves jumping from diet to diet or eating without knowing when to stop.
During childhood, we just eat when we are feeling hungry, and stop eating when we are full. There is no judgement whether which food is more healthy or which is unhealthy. For sometimes if we no longer hungry, we could forget about eating and playing for all the day. That’s intuitive eating.
There is still a decision-making process here, to decide when to eat and how much to eat. But the difference is, this time the decision maker is your gut and your body, not your logical mind.
How Intuitive Eating Looks Like In Real Life
To better illustrate what a real intuitive eater looks like, let’s talk about my brother who I believe to be a natural intuitive eater until now.
“Dinosaur’ is the only word I could use to describe him when he was in great appetite. He could finish up half of the chicken, or a full bowl of pasta if he is really in a great mood to eat. However, once he is full, he will just stop eating no matter how tasty the leftover dishes was.
Sound familiar right? We always have someone in our life that always to be a big eater l but still remained lean throughout the years. That led me to think, what is their secret?
The answer is intuitive eating.
The reason for these individuals to maintain almost the same weight throughout the year is that they acknowledge their appetite in the first place. It’s their gut that guide them on when to eat, how much to eat instead of relying on time, social pressure or the environment. They are rarely overeat so that gain weight is less happen on them.
Mindsets to Intuitive Eating
There is no strich rule in intuitive eating. All we have is just mindset. Here is some of the guidance on how to think like an intuitive eater. So that you can slowly integrate intuitive eating into your lifestyle and make it a habit.
1. There is no good food and bad food
One main reason people get disordered eating behavior is that they started labeling which food they should eat and which they can’t. Over time, you are no longer looking food as what it is, but your mind is constantly filling with thoughts such as ‘Deep fried food. Banned.’ or ‘No sugary dessert please.’ or ‘No, I can’t eat a pizza.” You continue run these intenal conversation until you reluctantly settle on something ‘healthy’ and made it a day.
Well, not in the case of intuitive eating.
We see all food equally. After all there is no ‘good food’ or ‘bad food’, just some food that is not so nutrient-dense perhaps. However we don’t need to ban these food at all. As long as we don’t indulge on a daily basis. Nothing will actually turn into ‘unhealthy’.
Of course intuitive eating still acknowledges the important of healthy eating. But the term healthy in this case is, you are prodiving the nutrition you body needs, while still giving allowance for others type of food. In fact, avoding certain food at all is not a good practise, this often will lead to nutrient deficiency.
2. Aware of your Hunger Cues
Our body is constantly giving out signals. Whether it needs some food or it’s full. When you feel hungry, identify whether that is emotional hunger or you already need to eat something. I know this might be confusing at the beginning, but over time when you learn how to differentiate between them, eating following your gut could be easier.
Learning to be aware of our hunger cues required us to be really attentive to how our body feels. Most of us had lose the ability to listen to our true hunger after growing up, but it will never be gone.
Regaining your consciousness with your gut is possible through practice. The important thing here is to be patient and attentive to your body.
Why most people are being advised to eat slowly, there is a reason. When we eat slowly, we let some time for our stomach to let out the signal when we are full. Also, when you eat slowly, you are more likely to be satisfied compared with the amount of food when you just gobbled up everything within 10 minutes.
3. No Means No
Although intuitive eating allows you to unconditionally fulfill your appetite. But it doesn’t means you could just set yourself free and get lost in the food paradise. For sometimes, you still need to say no to food if your gut not feeling it.
Can’t imagine how is it possible? Here’s some possible internal dialogue you might resonate with:
“This new arrival ice cream is so expensive, such a pity if I don’t finish it.’
“Expiry date comes soon.”
“Truly not enjoying this flavor. But this is the cheapest one. “
“Not feeling like wanting a big meal, but it’s lunchtime.”
From above, apparently in those situations we are guided by our logical mind to make decisions. We let external cues to make decisions for us rather than internal cues. However, in the case of intuitive eating, you need to learn to identify whether you are truly hungry, or just because the situation tells you that ‘you should eat it.
Why your internal cue is so important in intuitive eating is, our body knows the best what we needed at that moment. Sometimes you might need more energy, so you feel hungrier than on normal days. For some days you might feel less hungry, that might because you do not require much energy at that time. If that is the case, then it’s okay not to stuff yourself with food,
4. Satisfy Your Carving Once In A While
Do you think that we should only respond to our physical hunger, and not bother any emotional hunger if we suddenly crave for something?
The answer is no. In fact you should take care of both.
In intuitive eating we acknowledge both physical and psychological craving. The reason is our well-being is actually balanced both physically and mentally. Even you are craving for something sweet, if that’s the case, go get it. Perhaps that’s because you had already ‘eat clean’ for a few weeks, so your body gives out the signals that it needs some treat! Once your body is satisfied with certain food. You’ll unlikely to crave it later.
Yes, in fact sometimes we need to identify which of them is craving or you are just bored. The big difference of bored hunger is that, you might forget it sooner. But craving is quite different. Out of sudden you feel a desire to have certain food, and it keeps in your mind for a longer time, some of them even lasts for a week. If that the case, you might consider it as craving.
[Read about What Your Food Cravings Actually Say About Your Health]
To practise intuitive eating takes year of practise, but it is worthy. When we started feeling good and less guilthy about food, knowing when and how much to eat become maneageable.
Life is not just about losing weight and dealing with food. We have so much else to think about. Therefore, the main purpose of intuitive eating is to take away your judgement towards food and live out yourlife.
Let us grow together,