Let Your Intuition Be Your Guide

Let Your Intuition Be Your Guide

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the plethora of food and diet advice we get bombarded with daily? Whether it's Vegan, SRT, Paleo, Keto, or intermittent fasting, it adds a lot of layers to the relatively simple act of feeding yourself. 

I've struggled with my weight since my early teens and have YoYo dieted for most of that time. Weirdly, being very slim as a child and a fussy eater when we arrived in England, my Mum, who was worried about my physical resilience, decided to intervene and ask the doctor to put me on appetite stimulants, (a pill that I had to take daily) and sure enough, I began to put on weight. 

The reason I talk about the above is that I am of the mind that we have a natural intuitive sense of what is suitable for our bodies and what is food for our emotions. Constantly censuring yourself does not create or maintain a stable, healthy weight or a happy human make. 

To this end I've been exploring Intuitive Eating, a concept developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch; it's an evidence-based concept that encourages you to listen to your body and respect what it needs and wants. It's not an entirely new idea and was first pioneered in Susie Orbach's 1978 book Fat is a Feminist Issue: The Anti-Diet Guide for Women.

Fundamentally, Intuitive Eating asks you to identify the difference between Physical Hunger (the biological urge that tells us when we need more nutrition) and Emotional Hunger (often driven by hunger and your emotional needs). It's about listening to your body and giving it what it needs (thinking about food without judgment).

The first step is listening and getting to know your body rather than controlling it. Tune into it; how are you feeling? Because whether you eat too much or too little, both can make you feel uncomfortable. With understanding, you will recognise the difference between fullness and discomfort. 

The second step is to undo your food rules and diet restrictions; remember, these have been hardwired over time and may take a while to dismantle. Remember when you aren't fuelling your body correctly it effects your whole mood.

The third step, create a baseline of foods you know your body likes and responds well to. Think healthy staples: vegetables, proteins, fruits, dairy and pulses that you build around. Make peace with food; keeping a food diary can show you in black and white your intake but also help identify your emotional triggers for sugar, cake or other pacifiers.  

The things we crave are often a reflection of our emotional needs, sugar for example when life isn’t sweet and remember sugar fixes come not only from confectionery but also drinks both alcoholic and soft beverages. It could be salt when we feel fearful or debilitated, sour when we are inflamed or irritable.

This isn't about being restrictive; it's about knowledge, choice and balance, recognising your emotional need and responding with kindness; there's nothing wrong with a treat; you just change the narrative between naughty and healthy. By normalising the relationship, the need to overindulge dissipates, and instead of consuming the whole pizza, we have a couple of slices with some salad without guilt. Gently, you begin intelligently to intuit when you need this kind of support and combine it with healthier choices, you take the pressure off and savour the moment.

Respect your body.
Make peace with food.
Celebrate your fullness.
Acknowledge your hunger.
Treat your emotions with kindness.
Enjoy exercise that makes you feel good.
Enjoy feeling satisfied.