Intuitive eating is about listening to your body, from hunger cues to letting go of one’s emotional ties to food and making food neutral so that food is enjoyed and consumed in a way that allows the necessary nutrients to be eaten so your mood and behaviors align with who, you are.
When we aren’t in tune with our bodies and daily habits, imbalances increase our risk for chronic diseases and mental health situations. The unfortunate thing is that most people engage in “quick” fixes, from being on the go all the time to yo-yo or fad diets or piling on too much in one day that it wreaks havoc on their food choices and bodies. Here are five habits you need to look at and see where changes can be made to help you make choices and get you on the right track for understanding your body again.
One of the biggest secrets of Intuitive eating is listening to your body. Learning to listen to your body helps you only to eat what’s necessary to satisfy your hunger and stop before you overindulge. Therefore, to become in tune with your body’s needs, you must drop the habit of mindless eating. If you’re not aware of what you’re putting into your body, you’ll constantly overeat without even realizing it.
To start eating mindfully, feel how satiated you are after each mouthful of food, and stop eating as soon as you’re satisfied. This may seem difficult at first, but the more you do it, the more connected you’ll become to your body’s hunger signals and the more natural it will feel.
Not only is snacking encouraged by nutrition experts like me, but it’s also a great way to boost your energy and keep your metabolism moving. Plus, snacks will ensure your mood isn’t going up and down throughout the day because sugar levels will be regulated between meals.
Also, when you snack, you won’t feel hungry between meals and supply your body with a wide range of health-boosting nutrients. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to snack; if they do, it’s quick with processed snacks.
In Intuitive Eating, there is nothing wrong with processed snacks if you aren’t doing it mindlessly but eating them after listening to your body without judgment and understanding the need for the processed snack. Just remember, quick grabs could create an imbalance in one’s mood and behavior, especially if a person’s sugar jumps up fast and then goes back down quickly. On another note, most processed foods don’t pack a lot of needed nutrients either.
No matter how we look at it, snacks are necessary, and planning could help when those hunger pains kick in. We all want to make our goals achievable.
So how do you snack?
Next time those hunger cues kick in, try to have things ready or available, like fresh and natural foods- like fresh fruits, Greek yogurt, nuts, and seeds. If you listen and assess a need for something sweet, salt, or processed, know that it’s okay and don’t change it but understand it, along with recognizing how it makes you feel overall. Drinking Diet Soda
I get it. Intuitive eating has no limitations on foods or should or should not. However, diet soda is something that many people believe to be a healthy drink because it contains zero sugar and eliminates hundreds of calories while still allowing you to enjoy a sweet treat.
This is a myth. Diet sodas are loaded with artificial ingredients that damage your body in numerous ways and have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, gut issues, and more. It’s up to you, but the science is not there to support diet soda consumption. It doesn’t eliminate that sweet craving, but it will increase your need for sugar. If you decide to continue drinking diet soda,, that is your choice, but now you have the truth to make that decision.
If you decide to let go of drinking diet soda. The best way to ditch diet soda is to drink water instead. However, if you get bored with drinking water, you can also mix up your intake and stay hydrated with coffee, fresh fruit-infused water, tea, and smoothies. Lastly, some foods, like watermelon, apples, and most melons, will also hydrate while providing a sweet treat. If it’s not about sweet, there are cucumbers and celery that will also provide hydration.
Eating Too Fast
Suppose you’re a person who eats rapidly, either out of habit or because you don’t feel like you have the time to sit down and eat for leisure. In that case, you need to understand that hunger signals take around 20-30 minutes to respond to the foods you eat and send satiety signals to your brain. Therefore, if you eat too fast, you’re likely to eat much more than your body requires before your hunger signals respond to the foods. So slow down, savor each mouthful and take your time when eating. This also ties back to the mindless section of this post and could be signs your body is presenting, like fatigue, bloating, aches and pains, and more.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep affects your body and brain, causing you to engage in habits you may not normally engage in. Without enough sleep, your metabolism goes haywire, just like when you don’t get enough intake of various foods, and this will cause you to feel hungrier and crave fast foods without thought.
Not getting enough sleep also negatively impacts the areas of your brain responsible for logic and reasoning, setting you up to make decisions you may not make most of the time if you had plenty of restful sleep.
The combination of a dulled, sleepy brain and increased hunger makes you much more likely to not listen to your actual body cues, like taking a nap or getting more sleep, because you will reach for food to compensate. By ensuring you get a minimum of seven hours of quality sleep each night, you avoid the numerous adverse effects, and you will eat because you are hungry, not because your signals are crossed.
No matter your health goals or wellness intentions, these five habits cause many people to not listen to their body’s hunger cues or to keep things in moderation. These habits can also cause stress knowingly or unknowingly to our bodies while shifting various bodily functions.
So, take another look at this list and ensure you aren’t allowing these habits to hinder your health and wellness journey. Intuitive eating principles guide us to understand what our bodies are saying, even in a world where everything must be done immediately.