How do you know that you're really eating intuitively?
I can safely say that after years of very disordered eating habits (mostly binge eating), I have became an intuitive eater. I today's video, I want to share with you six things that in my opinion tell you that yes, you really are eating following your intuition when it comes to food.
Here's the video!
If you'd like to read instead, here's what I'm talking about in this video:
As you may know, I've done several diets in my life and lost and gained weight a few times. Every time I lost something, I was on a diet. First Weight Watchers, later strict Paleo. Somewhere in between was the 21 day clense too.
Now I can tell that I don't want to go on diets anymore, and my goal is to keep eating intuitively because this is the simplest, and I believe that also the healthiest, way of eating.
I didn't become an intuitive eater overnight. It just doesn't happen so that you're deep into your disordered eating behaviors and then one day decide that you're going to forget about all diet rules and start eating intuitively and everything works out quickly. It's a gradual process and getting to the point where you're free from dieting mindset, may take several months and even years.
I knew that I was getting closer to normal and intuitive eating, when I started noticing the following things. If you experience the same, then congrats — you are already, or at least are getting very close to, becoming an intuitive eater.
You Stop Being on Diets
You probably knew this one was coming! But I had to put it here and had to put it here first because this really is the most important thing. You simply cannot eat intuitively when you're following a bunch of diet rules.
But diets always come with rules.
Eat this, don't eat that. X is bad and Y is good.
Diets make us obsessed with food.
In intuitive eating, your body tells you what works for it and what doesn't, not someone who put together a diet book. No one else can ever know what is good for your body. They can give you guidelines and suggestions that you can try out, but if they don't work, don't hold onto them just because someone else told you, or otherwise you feel like you're failing your diet.
You Aren't Eating According to the Clock
What time it is shouldn't determine whether to eat or not.
That's why I don't think intermittent fasting is great for those who have had disordered behaviors or eating disorders in the past. I definitely don't recommend intermittent fasting to those who have hypothalamic amenorrhea — practicing intermittent fasting is a great way to prevent yourself from recovering.
It's not very intuitive to be hungry for 12-16 hours if your body says it needs food. Yes, there are people who naturally don't need to eat very often. But if that happens naturally, it's their intuition. If yours is different, don't force yourself. Also don't try to convince yourself that it works for you of it doesn't.
Similarly, a lot of people who come from a bodybuilding background, are used to eat every 2 hours or so. That is probably not intuitive for many people either.
If you find that you don't need to stare at the clock to know when to eat but instead, you eat when you're hungry, that's great! You're becoming an intuitive eater.
You Eat What You Really Want
You honor your hunger signals but also your cravings.
Back in the day, when I was always on diets, I had long lists of allowed and forbidden foods.
When I did Weight Watchers, it was mostly fat that was forbidden. When I did strict Paleo, then of course, gluten, dairy and anything processed were off limits.
My husband Hugh and I often go to Whole Foods for lunch or dinner, when we don't feel like cooking at home. They have a large selection of hot meals and a salad bar to choose from. You can have a little bit of everything if you want to.
And sometimes I want to eat mac and cheese. Mac and cheese would have been so off limits for me even just 3 years ago, but definitely when I was on super strict Paleo 4 or so years ago. There's wheat! There's dairy! Who knows what they used for cooking it!!!
It's different now. I know that in reasonable amounts, nothing will ruin my health or cause me gain 50 lbs. When I feel like having mac and cheese, I will eat it. No emotions, not thinking whether it was a good or bad choice. Eat, enjoy, move on.
You Don't Know Every Single Detail About Your Meals
If you're obsessed with food, you know absolutely every single detail about your last meal, the meal before that, and about the meal you're going to have next. You also know the exact amounts.
When you eat intuitively, you don't know all this information because you simply aren't hyper focused on what and how much exactly you ate or are going to eat.
Someone told me once that she's becoming an intuitive eater because she ate 15 almonds with her lunch. To me, that doesn't sound intuitive but obsessive. How did you know that you had exactly 15? Because you counted it.
Sure, you probably know approximately how much you ate. Maybe it was one handful of almonds? That's fine. And eating 15 almonds is great if you used to avoid almonds in the past. However, taking exactly 15 almonds out of a bag to eat them doesn't sound intuitive to me.
You Don't Have Weird Rituals and Rules Around Food and Eating
People have all sorts of rules, rituals and habits around their food and eating.
One of my weirdest rules was that I would never let myself to eat before I had worked out. It felt wrong to me, it felt “dirty” in an odd way. I had to work out first, I almost had to earn my food.
Another thing I've heard other people do is having to leave some food on the plate every time they eat out. To me, that doesn't sound intuitive. What if you're actually really hungry, but then your food arrives and is much smaller than you expected — do you still leave some on the plate and leave the restaurant hungry, because that's what you had promised yourself to do?
That doesn't make much sense to me. Knowing already before going to a restaurant that you will leave some food on the plate isn't intuitive. You can't know beforehand how much food you need.
You're Not Stuffed
I love love love not feeling stuffed anymore. I was stuffed often when I still binged. I was either hungry or stuffed, rarely somewhere in between.
Now I don't really eat past that point where I start to feel uncomfortable.
Sure, there are times when I eat more than I normally would. Let's say that I had already finished my meal and then someone brought out a delicious chocolate cake. I might eat some and then feel a bit more full than normally.
However, that doesn't happen often at all.
I don't like being stuffed — which is also why I don't encourage women who have HA, to stuff their bodies. It's very uncomfortable and to me, brings back a lot of unpleasant memories and feelings. You can eat normally (and get extra calories that you need if you're recovering from HA) without physical discomfort.
I hope that even if you aren't eating intuitively yet, you will get there. It really is the best way of eating and it's sustainable. Being on diets isn't intuitive nor sustainable.
If you see these 6 signs in your eating as well, then that's great because you're moving in the right direction, or have already learned how to eat according to your body's needs.
Do you have hypothalamic amenorrhea? Learn how to eat to recover from it.
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