Next Time You Go To Dinner, Let Your Stomach Order. Seriously.
Intuitive eating is all about trusting your internal body cues over someone else's one-size-fits-all eating rules. It isn’t a diet you prepare for, it’s just a lifestyle you own. You just start. We're into it.
Here’s a few steps you can do right now to become a more intuitive eater.
Go Find Yourself a Dietitian
Full disclosure: I am a dietitian and I work with one too. So I believe addressing your relationship with food isn’t something you have to tackle alone. Having a trained health professional to talk to and hold you accountable can be essential to your journey.
Plus, having a dietitian is no longer a luxury. Think of it as an investment in yourself. It’s accessible and affordable with online platforms like Healthie and Nutrimedy connecting you to dietitians whenever, wherever. Basically, you can FaceTime with your new dietitian/BFF while grabbing coffee.
Toss Out All of the Rules
Really—all of them. Right now, you’ve created mental list of forbidden foods and you can’t even remember why.
Intuitive eating takes practice. A lot of practice. Everything you have learned and will continue to see is going to work against you. The biggest obstacle in this step? Social media. Each day you scroll through images of specific body types captioned with #cleaneating and BLAH supplements tagged conveniently.
Plus, with the everyday person is using some form of photoshop and it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish reality from virtual illusion.
So, clean out your social media. Not just for intuitive eating but for your mental health. Experts say it can cause you severe FOMO, anxiety, and even depression. Eliminate the negativity, false advertisements, and picture perfect narrative. Then, do yourself a favor, scroll through #bodypositivity #healthatateverysize and #intuitiveeating and soak up the positive vibes.
Don’t forget to ignore the magazines on the stand screaming “love your body!” but featuring photoshopped celeb on the cover. Unfortunately, publishers are picking up on this growing movement and taking advantage of body positive terms to sell, but not to empower their readers.
Surround yourself with real expectations. Real achievements. Real people.
Focus on Food
This is going to be uncomfortable and uneasy. Dieting disconnects you from food by making eating a numbers game that doesn’t translate into long term change. Intuitive eating is a philosophy addressing emotional eating at its core.
You are transforming your inner dialogue from “I shouldn’t eat this. I should eat that instead,” to “ Is my stomach hungry or is my brain hungry? How does this food make me feel?”
Identify foods you associate with guilt and destroy that relationship. Once you normalize a food, it becomes less appealing. After years of restraint and restriction, you will unveil which foods you actually find pleasure in eating. For example, I embraced the idea that food is food, no good or bad.
After years of avoiding Oreos, I found them to be OK. But just OK. Not these incredible delicious cookies that I craved for years and secretly binged on. Was I disappointed.
Understand Your Intentions and Love Your Body
Once you begin to focus on food not rules, you discover your true motivations. Going into intuitive eating with the idea of achieving a dream body or to look like someone else is not the way to start.
Diet culture is founded on focusing on what’s wrong with your body and what you need to change. Intuitive eating is about loving your body and doing what is right by it. Look in the mirror and find what you love about yourself. Seriously, go to a mirror and find at least one thing you love about yourself.
What makes you, you? Take a moment to remember you are lucky to have a body. Be grateful for the unique vessel you get to experience this short life in. And remember it’s your job to fuel it and treat it right.
Alexandra Reed is a registered dietician and nutrition coach.
Words: Alexandra Reed