March is National Nutrition Month and at Burnalong this means we are focusing on healthy diets, simple meal plans, and a host of tips from our talented instructors and staff. Today, we will dive into the power and benefits of intuitive eating.
After decades of riding aboard the diet culture train, it appears our society is wising up. Lured on with promises of the latest and greatest fad diets, it’s been a bumpy road of ups and downs, marked by temporary successes and impending failures.
Fortunately, one-size-fits-all mentalities and over-simplified strategies are exiting the scene. Intuitive eating is now taking center stage. Simply put, intuitive eating removes the “good” or “bad” labels for food. Instead, you listen to what your body is craving and how it responds to the fuel you consume.
With intuitive eating, we are going back to the beginning of learning how and when to eat. We were born self-regulating, naturally intuitive eaters. As infants, we relied exclusively on instinct to know when to eat and how much.
While consistency is key to a newborn’s survival, one of their most defining characteristics is their capacity to communicate when they are hungry. Think, crying baby.
Imagine the mission of returning to intuitive eating as turning up the volume of your body’s internal speaker, while simultaneously drowning out messages blasted from the billion-dollar diet industry.
The idea of intuitive eating is based on is that by tuning in, and silencing out, you’ll have a front-row seat to the body and mind feedback. It’s always been playing, to be clear, but maybe you were on a different channel.
If you’ve begun your intuitive eating journey, you’ve likely enjoyed a few of the shifts mentioned below. And if your departure still awaits, keep reading. You might just uncover the necessary inspiration to take the leap!
Here are a few things that will change when you eat intuitively.
Food decisions become easier with intuitive eating
Food decisions become easier with intuitive eating
Have you ever struggled with the task of planning a menu for a party? It can be overwhelming to pinpoint one meal that satisfies the pallets and dietary restrictions of multiple attendees.
Similarly, when choosing what to eat while on a diet designed by someone else, rather than ourselves, it can be mental chaos with the different perspectives weighing in.
Take for example a typical morning, when you hear your stomach grumble and thoughts of food dance in your head. Clear signs it’s time to eat! Talk about a literal gut reaction.
However, if you’re in dieting consciousness, that signal may be quickly overshadowed, or worse, silenced. For instance, while you feel hungry, you might suddenly recall the Instagram post highlighting the benefits of intermittent fasting. Or, perhaps, you remember hearing you are only allowed carbs before a workout.
By honoring and prioritizing what feels right to your body without “asking the audience,” so to speak, we can save a lot of time and mental energy. Not to mention the benefit of being on the receiving end of personalized advice.
Days of the week don’t dictate what you eat
I bet you’ve never heard someone say, “My diet starts on Saturday.”
As wise and wondrous as the human body is, it cannot discern the days of the week. So if there isn’t some magical connection between metabolism and a weekday, why are “cheat” meals allocated to weekends only?
Sounds like an arbitrary food rule that must have originated from, you guessed, diet culture. This all-or-nothing method of eating might have left you with a food hangover on Monday, after having taken advantage of the so-called “cheating window.”
Eating according to date requires us to abandon everything in order to adhere to what feels like two different menus. It makes sense that you would take advantage of the two-day pleasurable eating allowance.
Intuitive eating abolishes this concept so you can consistently eat healthfully and nourish your body, not cheat it simply because it is the weekend.
Your relationship with exercise transforms
Now that you’re in a regular habit of checking in on how things make you feel, you might notice, for example, that your HIIT class occasionally leaves you feeling heavy. Your body might start to crave something lighter that you could get from a yoga class or walk outside.
Your daily movement starts to reflect back the variety you have begun to incorporate in the way you eat with intuitive eating.
Exercise morphs into joyful movement. You become motivated to seek out physical activity that feels good in the body. To ignite this process, ask yourself “If I could move in any way and achieve my ideal perfect health, what would it be?”
Your weight might increase, decrease, or remain the same
While this sounds far from an enlightened breakthrough, what it signifies is notable. When we eat, act, and think in accordance with the body, we are gifted with the body’s optimal weight.
Let’s pause here. You might think intuitive eating is just a sophisticated way of saying, “Eat everything you want.” Cue diving headfirst into the donut waterfall. However, what you want and what you need are very different.
If you choose to dive into the donut waterfall, you’ll likely receive physical feedback such as a stomachache and headache. It’s your body’s way of saying “Hey, let’s lay off the sugar for a while? Maybe get some greens and protein?”
While you may have received this feedback while dieting, it was likely eclipsed by the shame and guilt accompanied by a restrictive diet’s inevitable drop off. As you embark on opening up a dialogue with the body with intuitive eating, remember, there is no failure, only feedback.
Here is what you need to know about intuitive eating
The key takeaway here is that intuitive eating places us in a deeper relationship with ourselves, beginning with how to nourish ourselves with food and expanding to how we nourish ourselves in all aspects of life.
With intuitive eating, the first step in breaking any automatic behavior is to become aware of it (in this case chronic dieting). Notice the “why” behind your food, movement, and lifestyle choices. Ask yourself if you need to adjust these decisions to bring you more joy or to feel better, emotionally and physically.
Let’s focus on healthy eating together
Whether you are intentionally focusing on nutrition right now or not, intuitive eating invites you to have a different relationship with food. If you want to know more, check out our nutrition classes or this class on intuitive eating on the platform.
If you are interested in learning more about Burnalong’s wellness themes and events, please reach out to schedule a quick call.