Intuitive eating is a fancy way of saying you’re “listening to your body.” However, if you’ve never been in close touch with your body, it may feel like learning a new language! Instead of such a big leap, I’d like you to think of it more like learning a new dialect of a language you already speak. There’s much more than a foundation of understanding built, but you just need to learn a few new words and phrases, and maybe tweak your accent here and there. Sounds a bit more digestible, right?
Intuitive eating sounds much more intimidating than it is, so in today’s blog post I not only hope to address the very common question: what is intuitive eating? But also, some intuitive eating principles and tools for success.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is a way of eating that’s based on how your body wants to be nourished, rather than your moods or emotions. It helps to reduce overeating, undereating, and reduces cravings. Intuitive eating is said to help aid in digestion and maintain a healthy weight.
Benefits Of Intuitive Eating
Before we get into the ins and outs of what is intuitive eating, I want to share a few of the amazing benefits of this simple practice of tuning into what your body wants and needs.
- Lower Stress—Practicing intuitive eating is said to help lower stress levels. This is based on the understanding that when we allow our body to simply cue us when we’re hungry (as opposed to thinking all day or stressing out about what we “feel” like eating), we remove a major stressor from our life—and therefore, our bodies. 
- Better Self-Esteem—Studies are finding a probable correlation between intuitive eating and lower risk of eating disorders, improved self-image and self-esteem. This is likely due to the assumption that when we feed our bodies what it asks for, we correlate food with nourishment and fuel, rather than guilt or shame. 
- Improved Self-Awareness—One of the most obvious positive side effects of intuitive eating is improved self-awareness. You are more in tune with your body, and therefore more in tune with your breath, your posture, knowing when you need to rest, and much more.
- Lower BMI—It’s no surprise that those who tend to eat more intuitively have a lower BMI. This may be due to one study finding that intuitive eaters tend to engage in more physical activity than non-intuitive eaters. As we know, more regular exercise leads to a healthier weight, and therefore a lower BMI. 
- Increased Energy—One of the amazing side effects of regular exercise, a lower BMI, and higher self-esteem is having more energy. Without the actual weight of unwanted fat (and unwanted stress or thoughts) your body is free to focus on what it wants to—which in most cases, is to be happy! Happy people are generally energized people.
5 Intuitive Eating Principles
As with most any change you plan to make in your life, the first rule of thumb is to get your mind on board. If you don’t believe you are capable of intuitive eating, then you are not. If you do believe you are capable of intuitive eating, then guess what? You are! So, when you’re ready to teach your body to eat intuitively, simply create a mantra for yourself that you repeat every day, particularly around “meal times”. I put that in quotations because as you start to eat intuitively, you’ll find you may not fall into the same morning, noon, evening eating routines you’ve been trained and told to follow.
As for your affirmations, here are a few examples: I am a great intuitive eater, I am eating exactly as my body needs to be nourished, I am completely in tune with my body and its needs. The brain-body connection is crazy, you’ve just got to trust me on this one!
2. Question Yourself
It may be confusing that I’m first asking you to get in tune with your body, but also question yourself. Hear me out. For the first few days of intuitive eating, it’s common for your moods and emotions to still feel like they’re the captains. So the chatter in your mind will predominantly be coming from there, because that’s what you’ve always listened to. In the first few days or so, if you notice the repeated “asking” for chocolate cake for every meal, or something you know in your heart is not good for you, question it. Simply ask yourself—is this my body or my emotions speaking? Once you give yourself that moment of contemplation, you’ll start forming more trust with your body, and therefore make intuitive eating (and better food choices) more natural.
3. Feel Satisfied
Before intuitive eating, you were probably eating to feel full. If you’re guilty of feeling like you need stretchy pants after every meal, this is one of the most intuitive eating principles for you to take note of. Just like I’m asking you to check-in with yourself if your body or moods are talking, I want you to start to s l o w down your meals, and know the cue for when you’re satisfied. We usually don’t need five slices of pizza, but if we’re not listening to our body we completely missed the cue that we were full after two, and kept eating anyway. So eat to feel satisfied, not full. Mindful eating is a great way to start to learn the cues for satisfaction. Mindful eating is simply doing nothing but eating while you eat. Huh?! In other words, don’t watch tv and eat, or do anything else distracting. Focus on your breathing, your chewing, your food, your satisfaction.
4. Praise Yourself
Just a few days or weeks ago, you were asking yourself what is intuitive eating? Now, you’re doing it! So as you start to learn your body’s cues for hunger and satisfaction, give yourself some credit. Acknowledge your progress, and reinforce your affirmation of being a great intuitive eater. This sense of pride will fuel your practice of intuitive eating. Take time each week to recognize how you feel after intuitive eating. Are you more energized? Are you sleeping better? Is your favorite dress fitting better? Recognize these little milestones and celebrate yourself!
5. Find support
You are part of an elite healthy mindset population. Not everyone cares to ask: what is intuitive eating? Most people never even question the food or drinks they consume, all the while wondering why they don’t feel good or fit in their clothes. If you’re lucky, you’re surrounded by like-minded individuals who care about their health. On the other hand, you may be alone in this process. And that is why finding a community is so important. I remember when I first started going to the gym, I was a nervous wreck. “What will I do with all the machines, I’m going to embarrass myself.” So I never went at all. Until! I found a friend that was in the same boat as me, and we committed to push each other out of our comfort zones.
Finding your people is so important on the health journey, because people who have never cared about their physical or mental health may have a hard time supporting or understanding you. Luckily, SkinnyFit has an incredible online community of women. When I say incredible, I am understating the hype that goes on in that group every. single. day. I’ve never seen strangers share so much of themselves in a positive way before. So, if you’re someone who needs a health tribe, join the Facebook community! You won’t regret it.