In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about intuitive eating. Many experts and supporters talk about intuitive eating as the ultimate anti-diet. That’s because instead of going on some restrictive or temporary eating plan, intuitive eaters simply listen to their bodies to help them decide what, when, and how much to eat.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, as anyone who has tried and failed at any kind of intuitive eating plan can tell you — it’s not easy to learn. Human society is programmed to eat for a huge variety of non-nutritive reasons. We eat for fun. We eat to socialize. We eat because the TV is on. We eat because the clock says it’s time. And for many of us, we eat to subconsciously — or even consciously — medicate our emotions.
So, how does one begin to eat intuitively? If you’re new to intuitive eating and want to learn more, read on.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating was developed in 1995 by two dietitians, Elyse Resche and Evelyn Tribole. It isn’t a diet, instead, it’s a research-based approach to eating that relies on the body to tell you what you need. In that way, intuitive eating is very aligned with energy healing!
How to Start: The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Forget about the quick-fix diet fads. Our society pushes instant gratification through diets, weight loss teas, and restrictions. Intuitive eating suggests a long-term lifestyle change that is sustainable, attainable, and even enjoyable! Throw out the diets and choose the healthy, delicious foods your body wants instead.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Learn to listen to your body telling you it is hungry, and eat when it prompts you to. Your body is incredibly intelligent. It knows exactly when you need to eat, so try to listen more closely to those hunger cues, and honor your body’s needs.
3. Make Peace with Food
Give yourself permission to eat foods of all kinds. Intuitive eating promotes the idea that there are no such things as “bad” foods. By removing the guilt and shame around certain foods, you might be able to change your relationship with them.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Release the “rules” you may have learned about food from our society. If you feel like a certain food is off-limits, it may cause you to want it even more!
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Choose nutritious foods that you love eating! Savor your meal, and enjoy each bite. When you enjoy your food, you’ll likely feel more satisfied with it.
6. Feel Your Fullness
Learn to listen to your body’s signals that tell you you are full. Sometimes, we may eat just because it’s lunchtime. Or, we might eat much more than we need simply because it was served to us! By pausing and really noticing how you feel, you may be able to observe when you’re actually hungry, and when you’ve had enough to eat.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Find positive, helpful ways to cope with your emotions. Emotional eating can derail even the most dedicated intuitive eater! Find ways to process your emotions that are positive and productive. This could be through exercise, talk therapy, or working with an energy healer.
8. Respect Your Body
Find love for your body as it is now. By being grateful for all your body does for you, you will likely feel more positive about your intuitive eating journey.
9. Movement–Feel the Difference
Focus on how your body feels when you move and exercise. Rather than exercising to burn calories, choose exercises that you truly enjoy! Examples include gardening, yoga, tai-chi, walking, hiking, playing with your kids or grandkids, team sports, and swimming… The opportunities are truly endless!
10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition
Learn to choose foods that provide the nutrients you need to thrive. Recognize which foods make your body, mind, and spirit feel the best. Intuitive eating isn’t just about eating whatever you want, it’s also about eating what your body needs.
Essentially, these principles remind intuitive eaters to listen to their bodies and hear what they are asking for. Instead of following a strict diet, follow your body’s desires. Eat the foods you want, and satiate your hunger with delicious nutrition.
Emotional Impact of Intuitive Eating
When you stop listening to your mouth and start to listen to your body, intuitive eating can lead you to make healthier choices, including wholesome, all-natural, unprocessed foods your body really craves. These healthier choices physically benefit you in a lot of ways:
Lower blood pressure
Better cholesterol levels
On an emotional level, feeling better through intuitive eating can result in:
Boost in confidence
A calm and content feeling
You are the expert on your body; after all, you’ve been in it your whole life. Eating intuitively can help you start listening to it, and providing the fuel it needs when it needs it. So the next time you go to eat something, stop for a second and assess what’s really driving that “hunger” or take a minute to muscle test. After a while, intuitive eating can become second nature.
One vital part of intuitive eating is overcoming emotional eating. Emotional eating often happens when we’re not processing our emotions in positive ways, and can get in the way of our best intentions to eat more intuitively.
How to Overcome Emotional Eating
Before you can learn to eat intuitively with consistency, assess whether you have any tendency to eat emotionally. If you’re a frequent or habitual emotional eater, it will probably be that much more difficult to master intuitive eating. So with that in mind, let’s look at some ways you might be able to control this tendency.
“This Too Shall Pass”
If you can resist the urge to eat for even 15 minutes, the feelings that are driving you to crave something might subside. At that point, you can decide if you’re physically hungry or just emotionally hungry.
Keep a Food Diary
Keep a special notebook to write down what you eat, how much, and how you’re feeling while you’re eating. Also, note how hungry your body is. This can help you identify triggers and create an awareness of why you’re really eating, which is a huge step in the right direction.
Create New Habits
Instead of going for the chips when your sister yells at you or just because you’re bored, try doing something else that actually makes you feel better. Go for a walk. Read a book. Write in your journal. Any of these things could make you feel better without the eventual guilt of eating half a bag of chips.
Stress is a common driver of emotional eating, but there are many more productive ways to handle it. Try some yoga, deep breathing exercises, or meditation. Keeping your stress level manageable can help prevent you from feeding it.
Don’t Punish Yourself
It may be tempting to punish yourself with deprivation when you’ve eaten emotionally. But that restriction usually backfires into a cycle of emotional eating. Instead of depriving yourself or dieting, eat foods that offer real satisfaction and nutrition, and your body may respond with a happier outlook that helps you eat more intuitively.
Release Trapped Emotions
Of course, mastering your emotions might be your best defense against emotional eating. Try using the Emotion Code® to identify and release any trapped emotions that could cause you to eat when you don’t really need to. Until these negative energies are released, you might find yourself in a perpetual cycle of emotional eating.
While you’re at it, you can use muscle testing to ask your subconscious yes or no questions about what your body is actually asking you to eat. Perhaps you feel like eating a piece of cake when your body really craves the sweetness of a peach or banana. To find out, just ask!
Master Your Emotions for Intuitive Eating
It makes sense that emotional eating could be a major barrier to your desire to eat intuitively. Using the techniques above, see if you can get emotional eating out of your way first. Once you have that well under control, you might find it much easier to master intuitive eating, so your body can get what it really needs when it really needs it.
Breaking Food Addictions
The term “addiction” is thrown around pretty casually these days. If you suspect you have a real addiction, you should seek help from a professional who knows how to break your food addiction. If you simply live with a cycle of cravings, this article might help you decide what to do about it.
What Drives Cravings?
Cravings may be caused by a number of things including:
Blood sugar swings
Social situations and more
Certain foods may even affect the brain in ways that make resisting them seem impossible. Sweets and salty junk foods are prime examples. Medical studies have shown neurobiological evidence for food addiction, which shares the same neurotransmitters and causes some of the same symptoms as drug addiction.
Is There an Emotional Component?
While some foods — sugar, for instance — can affect the brain in ways that make us crave them, there may also be an emotional component. You’ve certainly heard about emotional eating. If you’ve ever eaten the wrong things or gone on a binge due to stress, sadness, grief, or even joy, then you’ve eaten emotionally.
If you have trapped emotions, it makes sense to say that they may trigger emotional eating repeatedly, until they’re resolved. If you want to know how to break food addictions or cravings, it may help to use muscle testing to see if any trapped emotions are involved.
Common Symptoms of Food Addictions
If any of the following situations ring true to you, then you may have addiction-like habits with food.
Frequent cravings for certain foods, even when you’re full
Feeling out of control around certain foods
Eating much more of a specific food than you intended
Trying to set rules about those foods — unsuccessfully
Eating past the point of fullness, to where you may even feel sick
Feeling guilty about eating certain foods but craving them again soon after
Justifying in your mind why it’s okay to eat these foods
Hiding what you’re eating from others
What Can I Do to Break Food Addiction and Start Intuitive Eating?
How to break food addiction — especially if it’s a true addiction — is complicated and may require professional help. But if you’re simply trying to break bad habits, there are a lot of things you can do. For example:
Use the Emotion Code® to determine if trapped emotions are playing a role in causing you to eat.
Use the Body Code™ to identify potential imbalances or nutrient deficiencies that may be driving your cravings.
Identify and avoid “trigger foods” that you tend to binge on or that seem to cause further cravings. Have a close friend or family member help you be accountable.
Once you know your trigger foods, choose non-eating activities to replace them. Brush your teeth, go for a walk, or call a friend when that craving hits. Breaking bad habits may be easier if you fill that void with something else.
Don’t go on a diet! While this may seem counterproductive, going on a diet to try and break food addictions may be too much for you at once. Tackle the addiction-like behavior first, without adding any other restrictions. You can always make other changes later if you need to.
Don’t Give Up
All these methods can help you break unhealthy habits and kick cravings. But it’s not an easy battle! You may have a few “false starts” or failures before you succeed, and that’s okay. If you need a counselor or support group to help you, be sure to seek that help. You can break the cycle and be healthier and happier because of it.
By dealing with your emotions first, intuitive eating will become much easier! Ready to start releasing trapped emotions today? Find an Emotion Code or Body Code practitioner and get started!