Is Intuitive Eating Right for Me?
Adee here, answering a question I get asked often — how do I know when it’s time to switch from weighing and tracking food to intuitive eating?
Let’s dive in and explore this!
Right now, there seem to be two “camps” in the nutrition world. One of them says:
“Listen to your body and do what works for you. Eat intuitively.”
The other says:
“Here are the lists of foods you should and shouldn’t eat. These foods are good and these are bad.”
In truth, neither camp, on its own, tends to be very effective when it comes to making real, lifelong, sustainable changes to your habits.
So what should you do?
In truth, it takes time, practice, and effort to truly understand how to listen to your body and know what works for you.
At WAG, we aim to provide clients with a framework or “blueprint” that will help them learn how to listen to their bodies.
Why do we do this? Well, unfortunately, many of us have lost touch with our bodies’ signals.
How does this happen? Some people yo-yo diet for decades and have learned to totally overrule their bodies’ messages. Some people have leaned toward consuming mainly processed food that can throw off our true hunger and fullness cues.
How can you reconnect with your body and learn to listen to its signals? I’ve got some recommendations to help you out.
Get in touch with your body.
Regaining body awareness is critical. Having a strong connection with your body (including hunger cues, how your emotions impact hunger and food choices, etc.) is one of the big differences between people who struggle with nutrition their whole life vs. people who have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.
My favorite way to begin developing this skill? Journaling!
By writing down what you eat and (very important!) what you’re thinking and feeling when you eat it, you will begin to notice times when you’re eating for reasons other than true “stomach hunger”.
Just make sure to notice your behaviors and choices without judging yourself. You are simply observing and learning!
This skill is most effectively developed with the help of a coach. Our WAG coaches are trained in helping clients get in-tune with their bodies. They will help you identify any potential “blind spots” that might be throwing you off.
Implement mindful habits around food
We’ve all heard the advice that we should aim to be “more mindful”, but what does that actually look like in practice?
I have suggestions! Check out the list below and try out one of the practices for a week or two, then move on to the next one.
Most of us eat very quickly, barely noticing what food actually tastes like. At each meal, put your utensils down between bites. Remember to keep breathing. Take a sip of water.
One of my favorite ways to explain this tip to clients: pretend you are on a “hot date” with your food. If you were on a date, you’d aim to be fully present, right? You wouldn’t be watching TV, skimming your Instagram feed, checking your email etc.
If you find this tip challenging, try setting a timer and noticing how long it took to eat your meal. Then try adding a minute or two to the next meal, and repeat!
Stop eating at 80% full (where you’re satisfied, not stuffed).
Can you think back to a time where you ate until you were uncomfortably stuffed? Using that feeling as a gauge, think about what it would feel like to be 80% that full.
That’s where you’re satisfied. No longer hungry. Maybe you are a little bit hungry, but that’ll pass after you give your body a couple of minutes to digest. Take a few sips of water and give your body time to register the food you ate.
Eat foods that make you feel truly satisfied.
This tip is about noticing how different foods make your body feel. Be honest with yourself.
If you can’t stand a certain food, there is no need to eat it. (At WAG, we aim to be nonjudgmental around food choices — there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Some foods have more nutrients than others, sure. But that doesn’t make the less-nutrient-dense foods “bad”).
And the next time you have a food that feels like a special treat, really notice how that food makes you feel, too. Not only while eating it, but afterward (directly, a few hours or maybe even over the next day or two).
There are no right or wrong answers here — just like with the tips above, the goal is nonjudgmental awareness.
Those are some tips to get you started on your journey of reconnection with your body and its signals. You can also check out these other resources:
If you’re still finding that you could use a little extra support and guidance with all of this, I get it! I am the CEO of a nutrition coaching company and I still check in with a coach every single week (even if I am not tracking my food).
There is so much power in having a support system on your nutrition journey, whether you’re just getting started or have been weighing and tracking your food for years.
Sign up for WAG today and you’ll be paired up with your very own 1-on-1 nutrition coach! It could be the exact support you need to make healthy, lasting changes to your life.
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Love what you learned but still want more guidance and support? Hire a 1:1 coach who will get to know you, your lifestyle and your unique needs and create results that you can sustain long-term. If you're not quite ready to go all-in on hiring a coach, check out our Macro Calculation Cheat Sheet & 18 Tracking Tips and Tricks for macro counting!