Intuitive eating is something not everyone may have heard about, so I will start with the definition.
Intuitive eating is essentially the opposite of dieting. Most people work hard to stay or become skinny, often barely eating or exercising past healthy levels. Intuitive eating rejects this diet culture and instead focuses on people’s relationships with food.
This may mean that you are eating without losing a pound, but you are fixing your relationship with food, and therefore with your mind and body.
Diet culture is inherently bad for your mental, spiritual, and physical health. You are ignoring your body and mind when it says it is hungry instead of trying to tell it what it should feel. Often, dieting comes with a harmful self-image as well, as you want to be skinnier, and better-looking.
You don’t enjoy the way you look, and this can create a rift between your mind and body. And often, if you are eating in unhealthy manors, you are ignoring or depleting your energy and optimism fades, which can harm your spirituality, no matter what it is.
By intuitive eating, we learn to listen to our bodies. We eat when we are hungry. We don’t starve ourselves to hit a certain weight on the scale, and we don’t overeat to finish off a plate, or because we are bored or upset.
Don’t eat based on a certain schedule or because you feel you have to. If you are hungry at six in the morning, eat. If you aren’t hungry until 10, wait until then. Generally, most people recommend rating your hunger on a scale of one to 10. If you are at seven, it is time to eat. Waiting until you are a 10 will cause you to overeat, while being at a 5 may just mean you are bored or upset.
This is a way to nurture your intuition more, which we’ve talked about as being key to being whole. Learning to eat when you are hungry depends on you listening to your body and mind.
Eating what you want is also important. Don’t ban certain foods (Unless there are health reasons of course) to be healthy. By not allowing yourself to eat specific foods, you often increase your desire to have them, and when you do give in (which you will), you will eat more than you would have if you had just eaten the food in the first place.
Like your progress for being whole, intuitive eating requires a lot of patience, compassion, and kindness. Issues with overeating often come from past experiences or traumas and need to be worked on as with any part of that. If you have nightmares from past experiences, you don’t blame yourself for having them.
You just accept it as a part of the process and reward yourself as you get better. Non-intuitive eating stems from the same traumas, but people aren’t often as patient with themselves over food as they would be for other symptoms. It is just as important, so give yourself the time it will require to fix.
There are a lot of stigmas surrounding diets, food, and food-related health that cause us to be more critical of this step than other parts of our progress, but it isn’t any different. We eat in the same way we pick harmful health practices or negative thoughts. It is often something we do automatically, and without intent to harm ourselves.
This is just another step towards healing. It involves acknowledging your harmful self-image and trying to fill the void you feel with food. If you can master intuitive eating, you are making another step towards physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness, and a pretty big one at that.