You probably turn to recommended books, magazines, podcasts, documentaries, YouTube channels, and a horde of other places to gain the latest knowledge about eating smart, and that’s awesome! But, how much time do you spend listening and learning from your own body? A healthy human body is constantly sending signals between your brain and body to spur you into action. For example, when the sun goes down, your brain releases a hormone called melatonin which signals that it’s time to prepare for sleep, helping you feel drowsy. That feeling of drowsiness sends you straight into your closet to pull out some pajamas and hit the bed. In the same way, the feeling of hunger is a signal that your body is in need of some nourishment. If you pay close attention to your body, it will tell you exactly when it wants food and when it doesn’t. This practice of listening to your body, trusting it to guide you to the foods and style of eating that works best for you is called Intuitive Eating. Here are some practical steps to help you become a better listener and learn how to eat intuitively:
Pay attention to your feelings of hunger
Who says you HAVE to eat breakfast right before you leave the house or lunch when it’s designated “lunchtime?” Instead of pushing yourself to eat at selected times, start to notice when you naturally feel hungry. You may begin to realize that every day is a bit different depending on your activity level, choice of foods and emotional state. When you’re actively listening to your hunger, you can catch yourself before you get to the point of starvation. Getting into the habit of eating before the feelings of desperation set in will allow you the space to choose wise foods and eat in moderation.
Notice how your body reacts to what you feed it
Not all foods have the same effect on our bodies. Become aware of how your body reacts to what you feed it. Notice how satisfied you feel after you eat a meal and track your hunger over a period of time. Certain foods drag you down, some provide you with bursts of energy, and others make you feel light on your toes. The cool thing about this is that you can begin to tailor your choice of food according to the amount of energy you need to exert throughout the day, so your meals are always working for you instead of against you.
Take time to enjoy and savor your food
Food is fuel, but it’s also just pleasurable! All too often, life rushes by and we forget that for the entire week, we’ve been eating breakfast in our car while driving to work. Enjoy the process of preparing your meal and create an atmosphere where you can enjoy it. Take time to savor your food, noticing the texture and flavors. By slowing down, you will notice your fullness level and recognize how much your body needs to feel satisfied.
Have some faith in your body
Your body isn’t trying to self-sabotage, it’s actually working to keep you alive the best it knows how! Have faith that your body knows what it needs and is effective in alerting you about it. Simply be a good listener and trust the process, your body will take care of the rest.