I didn't quite understand what mindful and intuitive eating really meant
until I was sitting in on a class one evening. Could it really change the way I understand nutrition?
It changed everything for me.
Not only in the way I counseled clients, but also how I myself viewed food and the art of healthy eating. If there was any one ‘miracle’ component for a more positive relationship with food, this was it.
Both mindful and intuitive eating are grounded in the notion that you have all of the power and wisdom to properly nourish yourself.
When it comes to your own body, you are the ultimate expert. Do you hate broccoli even though we hear over and over again how good it is for us? Don’t eat it. Does the dreary day make you want a cup of hot chocolate, just as you had as a kid on cloudy days? Make a cup, sit by the fireplace, and truly savor it without judgment. Fortunately food can be both delicious and make us feel good afterward. We don’t have to pick one or the other.
While these principles will likely take more than an article to fully incorporate them into your lifestyle, I hope the following tips will start changing the way you look at your own eating pattern and start you on your own path to ‘eating with presence’.
1. Change up your eating habits once in awhile (it might just make you happier too)
Many self-improvement experts tout the benefits of changing up your routine as a way to increase your awareness of the present moment. For example, taking a different route to work a couple days per week can have a positive effect on how happy we feel. This notion can also be applied to food. When we take the time to try a new food, recipe, or café to pick up your morning coffee, it brings us back to the present moment and allows us to really taste our food, savor the new flavors, and sit in all of its deliciousness.
2. Forget willpower
No, this is not a free pass to devour an entire plate of cookies. But if you have a desire for a certain food you view as a treat (hello, cookies!), start to explore why. Do you want a treat because you’re lonely, bored, sad, or feel like you deserve it for one reason or another? Just starting to become in tune with our feelings and questioning our desires allows us to either deal with our feelings without using food, or realizing that yes, I just really want a cookie. In that case, have one and completely savor it to the point that it also makes you feel good after it’s gone and brings a smile to your face. That way, willpower isn’t required to not eat the entire plate.
3. Start paying attention to your body telling you it’s hungry or full
Practiced consistently, being able to cue into your hunger and fullness levels is one of the best strategies for managing your body weight over the long-term. Before making a meal or ordering out, ask yourself how hungry you are and then halfway through your meal, how full or satisfied you are. You may find that the hungrier you are, the more you eat, so including snacks throughout the day is important. Or you might notice that you stay fuller for longer when you have snacks that include protein. Paying attention, being present, and bringing yourself back to awareness are key.
For more information, I recommend looking at some books authored by experts in this field, such as Evelyn Tribole, Elyse Resch, Geneen Roth, and Michelle May.