How to Practice Intuitive Eating in Your Daily Life

By Sierra Morris – Fitlife Foods Regional Wellness Coach, Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist and M.S. in Kinesiology

Have you ever started eating and the next thing you know, your plate is empty? Or did you ever finish eating something even though you didn’t like it just because it was there? As a corporate wellness specialist and wellness coach at Fitlife, I see this all the time (and may be guilty of it sometimes too)!

When it comes to food and eating, most of us are looking for something quick we can eat on the go, skipping meals, or eating while multitasking. Often times, we are so focused on our next task that we don’t stop to take care of ourselves and enjoy the moment, especially during meal time. Fitlife has so many delicious, convenient meals perfect for eating on the go and making healthy choices, but we don’t expect every meal you eat to be a Fitmeal.  No matter what you’re eating, how can you savor every bite and moment of your meal even when you’re busy?

Mindful eating! Mindful eating is paying attention to your food, how it tastes, how it feels as you bite into it, and what nutrients it will give you.

What is Intuitive Eating?

You are able to shift your mindset around food. Instead of labeling food as “good” or “bad”, mindful eating allows you to enjoy the food for the taste, the nutrients, and how the food makes you feel. 

You can also rewire your brain by practicing mindful eating. Rather than focusing on cravings, depriving yourself, or using food as a reward, mindful eating can make it easier to change such ingrained eating habits to become healthier and more sustainable.

Lastly, with mindful eating you can take advantage of the Mind-Body and Body-Mind connections. When you eat mindfully, you are preparing your gut and stomach for digestion (Mind-Body Connection) and you are able to listen to your body when you are full (Body-Mind Connection). This allows your body to digest food more efficiently, absorb the nutrients your food provides, and helps you feel satisfied after eating.

Benefits of Intuitive Eating

- You are more likely to make food choices that will help your health and wellness
- You can create sustainable habits for a healthy lifestyle
- You may see a drop in your blood sugar levels and cholesterol
- Weight loss may be observed
- You will probably enjoy your food more
- Your body will digest your food and absorb nutrients easier
- You may observe an Increased awareness of nutrients and origins of food

      Now that you have more information on mindful eating are you ready to try it out?

      How to Practice Intuitive Eating: Step By Step

      1. Stop Stress Eating

      Notice if you’re actually feeling hungry. Are you bored? Stressed? Thirsty? Upset? Is it “time for a meal”? You can also rate your hunger of a scale of 1-10 to help you determine how much food you need. After going through these steps, if you find that you are hungry EAT! Trying to hold out or restrict yourself when you’re hungry will lead you to make unhealthy decisions or eat more than you should.

      2. Distinguish Cravings from Hunger

      Know what it feels like when you’re actually hungry (your stomach rumbles, feeling low energy or light headed, getting cranky). Then, understand what prompted your cravings – maybe certain situations, seeing food, emotions, or being thirsty. Once you understand these cravings and hunger cues you can better satisfy them with choices that will satisfy how you’re feeling.

      3. Focus Only On Eating—Nothing Else!

      Before eating put away all distractions! Turn off the TV, put your phone face down or in another room, put away your work and get away from your desk. While eating, savor each bite and chew fully. Really pay attention to how the food looks and tastes, the textures, and how the flavors work together.

      4. Monitor Your Fullness 

      Every couple bites ask yourself: Have I eaten enough? Do I want more? Am I enjoying this? Rate how you feel on a scale from 1-10 and aim to stop at ‘moderately hungry’. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your body to tell your brain that you are full and to stop eating so take your time and let your brain catch up to your body. 

      5. Appreciate Your Food

      Being grateful can give meaning to your culinary experience. Take time before you eat and while you're eating to think about where the food came from, what it took to get to your plate, and how your body will benefit from eating it.

      We all need to eat, why not enjoy it?

      To learn more, speak to a wellness coach today!

      Additional Resources: 

      1. Warren, J. M., Smith, N., & Ashwell, M. (2017). A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: Effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutrition Research Review, 30(2), 272-283
      2. Dunn, C., Olabode-Dada, O., Whetstone, L., Thomas, C., Aggarwal, S., Nordby, K., Thompson, S., & Johnson, M. (2018). Mindful eating and weight loss, results from a randomized trial. Journal of Family Medicine & Community Health, 5(3), 1152.
      3. Monroe, J. T. (2015). Mindful eating: Principles and practice. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 9(3), 217-220.