How to Get Started with Intuitive Eating
Last week I shared an overview of Intuitive Eating. Today I want to elaborate on that topic by sharing how to start Intuitive Eating. Here are five tips to start to heal your relationship with food and bring out the intuitive eater inside of you.
In the process of intuitive eating, you let go of the misconception that certain foods are good or bad, and over time you are able to eat what you want without feeling guilty or ashamed.
With intuitive eating, you eat based on internal signals like hunger, fullness and satisfaction, rather than external dieting rules or restrictions. This may sound simple, but after years (or decades) of being inundated with diet talk, diet culture, media messages and food rules, it can be hard to just, well, eat!
Here are five ways that you can get started with intuitive eating. To get this in PDF form along with a step-by-step email series, click here.
1. Reject diet culture.
Throw out books and magazines that tout diets and “easy” or “quick” weight loss. Unfollow social media accounts that propel the dieting myth, especially those that make you feel bad about yourself. This summer I realized that a few of the fitness trainers I followed – people I knew personally – were starting to make me feel not good about my body. I kept following them for a few more weeks, feeling like I “should” since they were people in my industry. Then I realized: WTH am I doing? I unfollowed them and immediately felt better since I was taking control of the situation.
Start reading more about the intuitive eating philosophy and health at every size. Some books to get you started: *includes Amazon affiliate links*
- Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
- Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield
- Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon
Follow people with body positive and anti-diet social media accounts. Here are a few of my favorite Instagram accounts. For the full list of Instagram accounts to follow, click here.
- Kylie Mitchell
- Robyn Nohling
- Kara Lydon
- Christy Harrison
- Rachael Hartley
- Alexis Joseph
- Haley Goodrich
- Paige Smathers
- Marci Evans
- The Wellful
Read blogs and listen to podcasts that promote anti-diet culture. Some of my favorites:
- The Real Life RD blog
- Rachael Hartley Nutrition blog
- The Foodie Dietitian blog
- Immaeatthat blog
- Food Psych Podcast
- The Mindful Dietitian Podcast
- Nutrition Matters Podcast
- The Nurtured Mama Podcast
- Love Food Podcast
2. Start Using the Hunger-Fullness Scale
Two of the tenents of Intuitive Eating are Honor Your Hunger and Respect Your Fullness. After so many years of dieting and eating for external reasons, many adults struggle to know when they are hungry and to stop eating when they are comfortably full (or to even know what ‘comfortably full’ feels like!). The hunger-fullness scale is a useful tool to help you begin to pay more attention to what variations in hunger levels and fullness levels feel like to you. Check in with yourself before a meal or snack, partway through eating, and as you finish eating. It can be helpful to keep a journal and track your feelings of hunger and fullness so that you start to be more conscious of how your body is feeling.
3. Ask Yourself What It Is You WANT To Eat
By allowing yourself to eat whatever you want, you stop this cycle in its tracks. As your body learns to trust that it has access to any and all foods, cravings and overeating decrease. If you’re unsatisfied you’ll probably keep looking for that one thing that is going to make you feel satisfied and content and you’re likely to overeat. When you eat what you really want, the feelings of satisfaction and pleasure you feel will help you be content (and often with less food).
4. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is about being conscious about what you are eating, why you are eating, and how you are eating. It involves getting back in touch with the experience of eating and enjoying your food. It’s about fully present during meals and snacks, paying attention to the sight, smell, taste and texture of foods. Try slowing down your eating speed and eat without distractions. Turn off the tv, put down your phone, don’t eat in front of your computer. If that’s not always possible (I often eat lunch at my desk too!) practice mindful eating for at least the first five minutes of your meal. Tuning into what you eat can help you feel your fullness and (even more importantly) be more satisfied with the meal. Practice mindfully with my free 5 Minute Mindful Eating Exercise.
5. Bring Awareness to Your Internal Food Police.
The food police are the thoughts in your head that monitor everything you eat or think about eating. They are the unreasonable food rules that you’ve developed over years of hearing diet talk. It’s the voice that says you’re “good” when you eat salad for lunch and “bad” when you eat dessert; the voice that says you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat a certain food. Start to notice your thoughts around food and food decisions. Make note of what your internal food police is saying throughout the day. It can be helpful to write these statements down. As you become more aware of the food rules and “shoulds” you experience, you can begin to challenge this voice.
If you found these steps helpful, download the full free guide 5 Steps to Getting Started with Intuitive Eating below.
For more guidance on getting started with Intuitive Eating:
Check out my Intuitive Eating Crash Course. It’s 100% online and self-paced, covering the principles of Intuitive Eating and giving you exclusive, lifetime access to modules, videos and exercises to heal your relationship with food.
Or, if you’re looking for one-on-one support, check out our virtual intuitive eating nutrition coaching programs.
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Alissa Rumsey, RD.
Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS (pronouns she/her/hers) is a registered
dietitian, nutrition therapist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the author of
Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace With Food and Transform Your Life. Alissa is
passionate about helping people reclaim the space to eat and live,
A twice-a-month round-up of inspirational stories, lessons, practical tips and encouragement for living your most authentic, unapologetic life.