I didn’t know intuitive eating existed until I heard about it on Maddy Moon podcast. To be precise I didn’t expect that it was something needed to be addressed and explained and defined through sort of rules or steps to make people more confident about the concept. I thought it was a pretty natural and common thing, since except for those few that I know that have a disease, none of the Italian human beings I grew up with have dieted to the point of loosing their connection with food and intuitive eating. Except when I had my disrupted relationship with food as a teenager I have been an intuitive eater all my life, lets say for more than 28 years (and yes, when you are a baby you are an intuitive eater, so that counts).
You wake up you are not hungry you wait until you are.
Lunch time: you had a late breakfast? than you eat only a small portion of pasta or meat and salad and skip the fruit and the bread. You keep going with your activities until you feel hungry again.
You have whatever you want, a piece of cake, cheese and bread, fruits, a sandwich, it really doesn’t matter, you just eat enough until you are moderately full. Not rolling on the floor because you cannot move anymore, but fueled enough so you can keep going with your studies or your work or your daily activities.
Then you wait until dinner and you eat exactly with the same state of mind. Bread? Oh yes, just not the entire loaf cause it makes me bloated, a piece of meat, cheese, veggie, fruits, just to be full, but not overwhelmed by food.
There are no bad or good foods, there is no calorie counting, not even on your head, there are not real restrictions, you can basically eat what you want, even pig out now and then if you feel like and not on a specific day, like only on Saturdays, just when you feel like.
It is freedom from food and self constrictions and limitations. It is seen food for what it is, just food, not an enemy, not something to obsess over with, just fuel for your mind and your body. That can be super tasty and enjoyable and doesn’t have to be attached to any feeling whatsoever, of control, of guilt. Intuitive eating is not a diet, it is a lifestyle, I would say not even call it a lifestyle, more a state of the mind and the body. It teaches you to feel the sensations within your body, to understand when you are hungry or not without a clock to tell you that or without a calorie counter to tell you how much you should eat.
You can diet to loose weight when on intuitive eating. Yes you can, if you are tuned enough with your body you will not go crazy about it and you will take it like a momentaneous phase that will end once you have reached your goal. And most of the time you will still not count your calories, just eat less junk food or bread or snack less to loose the weight.
How do you start?
The idea is to first stop dieting and ditch the diet mentality. You are not dieting, calorie don’t count whatsoever and you don’t need a scale, for yourself or the food you are eating. You don’t even need a guru to follow or a meal plan found in a book or in a women magazine. Actually stop even reading about food and dieting.
Start paying attention to your body sensations. If you are full and close to throw up after a meal you will know that you ate too much without a scale to prove it. If 20 minutes after eating the salad with no dressing, proteins and fats that you had for lunch you are still hungry, you will know that the meal you had was not enough to make your body work properly.
Just listen, your body tells you everything.
And since you ditched the diet mentality don’t worry if you don’t finish all your food, no catastrophy is going to happen tomorrow, the food is still going to be there waiting for you, you don’t have to finish it all. And if someone in the house reaches it before you do, still don’t worry, you can cook or buy it again and have it another time. There is not such a thing like the last meal before a diet, cause you are not on a diet, ever.
There are no bad or good foods either. There are foods to consume more than others, and foods that make you feel full consuming less calories than others, and some to be consider food to consume occasionally, because high in calorie and very poor nutrition-wise, but that’s about it.
If one day you want to eat just cake, homemade cake better than the store bought one (those are more a chemical reaction in a chemistry lab that actual food, with lots of weird ingredients that you don’t even know how to pronounce), just do it. But do it for the right reasons, not because you are mad, sad, depressed, down in any way, but just because you made a superfantastic tasting cake and for once you want to indulge a little bit and eat half of it.
As long as you consume real food, lots of veggies, fruits, good quality fats and good sources of carbohydrate you are good to go. You don’t need to judge yourself and think you lack self control or you are a bad person because you ate cheesecake, because you are not, you just wanted to do it and you did, that is called act of will, you choose to do it knowing that nothing would have happened, that as long as the other food choices you took were done listening to your body you are going to be fine. What matters is not the single meal, or the single day, but how you eat over time. If you eat real food and a variety of it, you are on the right path. If you exercise as well you are on the right path.
If you respect your body your body is going to respect you.