There is a lot of information out there on how to help people start eating paleo or vegan or vegetarian or low carb—you name it, and there's a book or program for it, too. These can be awesome resources, but what if we put all the fads and crazes aside and simply listened to our bodies? Instead of referring to eating something you love as a weakness (cue bagels or a cheeseburger), just listen to your body and be mindful of how it responds, then base your food choices on that. This is what eating intuitively is all about—sounds pretty amazing, right? Here are our best tips on getting started.
Pay attention to what your body responds negatively to.
Eating intuitively isn't about pigeon holing yourself into a category and limiting yourself to only a certain kind of food—it's about having a true understanding of the effects food has on your body. For example, if you love chocolate chip cookies, pay attention to how your body responds the next time you eat one. Do you feel energetic and ready to conquer the world afterwards or sluggish with a stomach ache? Learning what makes you feel bad—healthy or not—is the first step in listening to your body.
Understand what foods you enjoy most.
As you continue to try out foods, it might feel like you're eating things for the first time because you're actually paying attention to how they make you feel. Suddenly the crunch of tortilla chips is fantastic or the juiciness of fruit becomes impossible to stay away from. Once you know what you truly enjoy eating and what makes your body feel excellent, it'll all seem so simple. You may even wonder how you never ate this consciously before.
Stop the dieting.
The classic line is "it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change," which is definitely true. When you get on a temporary program for a quick fix, it's almost always a guarantee you'll gain whatever weight you lost right back once your diet is done. When you start something that is sustainable and creates a greater understanding of self, you're more likely going to stick with it rather than drop everything you learned after your 21 days (or however long the diet is) is up.
Putting an end to emotional eating.
Emotional eating doesn't just happen after someone has been broken up with. When you pay close attention to yourself, you might notice you're more likely to eat when you're feeling stressed, or even excited. It's easy to convince yourself you've had a bad day or it's Friday and you're ready to go out because "you deserve to eat whatever you want." We've all been there. When you stop and think about it for a minute, though, and realize you're only eating because you're in a certain mood and not because you're hungry—that's when growth happens.