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What is Intuitive Eating? (Part Three)

Following on the principles described in Part One and Part Two, here are the next few principles or skip ahead to Part Four to wrap it up:

 

Feel Your Fullness

 

Eating tastes good. A lot of the time. In our food landscape of super processed and hyper-palatable foods, it’s very easy to ignore the internal signaling that screams (or it’s probably more accurate to say, subtly announces) that your body is sated. Satisfied. No longer in need of sustenance.

 

There are a few obstacles to this, however. One is the fact that most of us eat in a distracted manner. Yes, trying to multitask while eating backfires in a big way. It’s difficult to feel the gradual onset of fullness and satisfaction while engaging in another activity. Here are a few examples of distractions that interfere with fullness recognition:

 

Checking email

Watching Netflix

Perusing the internet

Reading

Driving

Cleaning

 

In addition to distracted eating, sometimes chronic stress, poor sleep habits, or drugs and medications can interrupt true physiological fullness signaling.

 

Multitasking while eating makes it very easy to overshoot fullness. It’s like texting and driving. We all believe we’re okay and capable until there’s a problem. Distracted eating allows for eating beyond what feels comfortable in the body. And that is simply not satisfying, Which leads to the next principle.

 

Discover the Satisfaction Factor

 

If I’m craving a burger, no amount of broccoli is going to satisfy.

 

This is the idea of the satisfaction factor.

 

To become an intuitive eater, while honoring hunger and fullness and rejecting the food police and diet mentality, the hub of it all lies in HONORING SATISFACTION.

 

If you crave a certain food, replacing or attempting to trick yourself with a substitute is not satisfying. Tricking your hunger with water or gum or “air foods” is not satisfying. Avoiding what you truly want because it’s “not healthy” is not satisfying. Overeating “off-limit” foods because you have to eat it all now or never is not satisfying. Overeating any foods for whatever reason is not satisfying. It feels uncomfortable and not in alignment with overall well-being.

 

The KEY principle underlying ALL of the intuitive eating principles is finding the satisfaction factor.

 

Eating foods that make you feel good, vibrant, energetic and thriving is a component of the satisfaction factor. Eating for pleasure, comfort, entertainment, and enjoyment is also a part of satisfaction. Eating foods that fill you up psychologically, emotionally, and socially with no guilt, no shame, and no sense of urgency or deprivation is satisfying.

 

Food is more than fuel. It’s connection. It’s okay to eat for social and cultural reasons. It’s okay to have permission to eat for pleasure and fun. It’s also important to realize food abuse doesn’t honor the satisfaction factor. It doesn’t mean you need to restrict or deprive – but typically restriction and deprivation are what lead to an unsatisfactory experience with food.

 

Finding satisfaction with food is integral in becoming an intuitive and normal eater.

 

Cope with Feelings Without Using Food

 

Many people are emotional eaters. In fact, dieting is one of the number one causes of emotional eating. Eating for reasons other than hunger is human, normal, and perfectly okay. However, it shouldn’t be the only coping skill for uncomfortable feelings.

 

Stress eating, depressed eating, joyful eating, angry eating, boredom eating, self-soothing with food is a very normal and human experience. When we start to assign guilt to these behaviors, then it becomes problematic and habitual.

 

Emotional eating has a stigma. People are ashamed for partaking in it, yet most people succumb to it. It’s not the act of emotional eating that’s the problem, it’s how we internalize it or shame ourselves for doing it that may make it a problem.

 

Emotional eating is normal, but when it becomes the one and only coping skill, that’s the point when it may become problematic. If eating is your only outlet for comfort in difficult to navigate situations, it may be important to seek out help to find alternative ways to deal with stress or negative emotions other than food.

 

That said, it’s also important to acknowledge that some level of emotional eating is okay and fits in with permission to eat whenever, whatever, and wherever on the journey to intuitive eating.

 

Respect Your Body

 

In a similar vein to many of the other principles, respecting your body will eventually come into play with intuitive eating. Yes, it’s important to bring all foods to neutral – even the “unhealthy” fear foods like processed “junk food”. Yes, it’s important to NEVER put arbitrary limits on these things – allow the abundance mindset with all foods to dictate your choices and habituate previous fear foods or trigger foods back into your diet one by one. This is all a part of the intuitive eating journey.

 

But it’s also important, once all foods have been brought back to neutral, to start to notice how foods feel in your body. Do you notice heart burn, inflammation, achy joints? Do you become energetic in the gym or lethargic? Do your choices enhance the quality of your life and how you function or are they cumulatively making you feel bad?

 

It’s important to note where your food bias and judgments lie. This is the principle that also ties into the challenge your food police and making peace with all foods principles. Are you really experiencing a negative physical response to a food or have you been psyched out to believe a certain food will impact you negatively?

 

Often times our gut-brain axis will influence our food experience. If there’s internalized anxiety or beliefs around certain foods, it’s very easy to elicit a physiological response to eating that food due to biochemical neurotransmitters that communicate with the gut and create a food experience.

 

Of course, there are also very legit food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerance that are covered by this principle. If you are taking respect for your body into account in your food choices, discernment comes into play. In the case of disease or illness, respecting your body means making choices that align with your needs.

 

Exercise: Feel the Difference

 

Taking all of the previous principles into account, next comes the component of exercise or physical activity. When considering wellness and health and diet and lifestyle, it’s irrefutable that physical activity is paramount for feeling good for many people. However, the scope is wide and broad, and there’s no one “right” modality for exercise that is better than another. The key is finding what actually makes YOU feel good.

 

Finding a way to move your body consistently and for pleasure and joy is far more beneficial than relying on a transient punishing regimen that is oppressive and impossible to stick to.

 

From biking to dancing to boot-camps, Crossfit, weight lifting, yoga, pilates, or the martial arts, there are so many different avenues to explore to find what feels good to you. Simply walking is one of the most accessible forms of movement, if you have a safe environment to utilize.

 

Continue on for the Fourth and FINAL part to this series, or go back to review Part One and Part Two.

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