Feel Balanced | Eating Intuitively + Mindfully
I'm a firm believer in eating intuitively AND mindfully. The intersection of intuition and awareness is where I've found my sweet spot with food, and where a lot of my clients have found theirs too.
Eating intuitively (in my perspective) means to be able to listen to your body's cues and give it what it's asking for when it's asking for it. It means not following a strict diet and being able to enjoy the functional aspects of food as well as the pleasurable ones. If you had asked me what I thought about eating intuitively several years ago at the peak of my struggle with disordered eating, I would have told you that it sounded like a terrible idea. Back then, I didn't trust my body to make any good choices for me- I essentially ate the same thing almost every day and kept a pretty close count on my caloric intake. And I really believed that was the only way I could look the way I wanted to. Fast forward to today where I NEVER count calories, eat a variety of foods on a daily basis, and honestly feel good in my own skin. So if you're afraid of eating intuitively, you're not alone... and it's totally possible for you to have a change of heart.
Mindfulness is a key component in all of this. Without it, I'd probably be eating cookies three times a day (I'm not kidding, I love cookies). Mindfulness is awareness, it's paying attention to how certain foods make you feel, and being able to make the distinction between your body truly asking for something and just a crazy sugar craving. See why I say it's key? Because it's the ability to take the information your body is giving to you, and to make useful data out of it. Mindfulness is not to be mistaken with obsessively keeping track of every bite you take, it's more like a quiet observer that takes note of what's coming up for you.
While every BODY is different- I truly believe that the intersection of intuitive eating and mindfulness is where most of us can find our balancing point.
Here are some ways you can start to tap into your intuitive and mindful eating powers.
Plan to eat three meals at the beginning of each day- Believe it or not, skipping meals and eating snacks on the go can cause your body a great deal of stress. You need to eat. Simply committing to breakfast, lunch, and dinner and having that in your awareness will begin to bring you closer to the mindful goddess you really are and further from feeling like a frantic mess that can't remember what she ate two hours ago. I've seen a lot of clients struggle with this, and at times have struggled with this myself, but that doesn't mean it's not worth working toward. Even if you don't feel hungry in the morning it's important to eat some kind of breakfast, because if you don't you'll eventually be starving and reaching for the donut or bagel that's easiest to grab.
Take a deep breath before each meal- Does it sound too simple to be effective? It's not! This is so important, I can't stress it enough. Taking a deep breath or pause before you begin eating invites both your intuitive body and your awareness to the experience. By doing this you're consciously slowing your thoughts and body down to be present with you in the moment. And when you're present, you'll never overeat- nor will you eat anything that makes you feel sick.
Notice how you feel after you eat- How many times have you rushed through a meal to immediately get back to work and then a little while later started to feel stomach pain, bloating, fatigue, etc? Chances are, most of us have experienced some version of this more times than we can count. I get it, you're busy- that's okay, but that doesn't mean you have to deny your body the right to feel healthy. After you finish eating, check in with yourself. This doesn't have to be a formal experience, it's basically like taking inventory of your state of being, it takes seconds. Once you've done that you might notice you feel too full, bloated, or still hungry. Whatever information you gather can empower you to change what you eat next time accordingly. Taking the information your intuitive body is giving you and giving it awareness and attention is how you will be able to find your sweet spot or happy place when it comes to knowing exactly what to eat and when.
Your body is wise beyond belief. The more you listen to it, the better you will feel. If you struggle with finding balance in your eating try these tips out and see if they help.