Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Intuitive eating is a powerful, wonderful tool to use in your journey towards making peace with food for good. And although most people have the potential to learn it and make it work, it’s necessary to know a couple of things why it may not be working for you as expected.
If you have been using restriction as a tool to manage your weight, be it dieting, extreme or frequent cleanses and detoxes or simply skipping meals, chances are your body is out of balance physically. And so the signals that your body sends you may not be accurate. If you cannot even remember the last time you were eating intuitively, you may not even know HOW to listen to the body in the first place.
One of the main principles of intuitive eating is ‘eat what you like, as much as you like and stop when you are full’.
Sounds too good to be true?
The truth is, this way of relating to food is the ‘original’ way nature intended humans to eat and listen to the guidance within. If you see a baby or a toddler eat, you will notice them leave food on the plate without any attachments once they’re done.
Going through life we learn behaviours that are not always the most beneficial to us and learn to count on external guidance such as calories, diets, what everyone else is eating and so on. Forgetting (or not knowing) that our bodies already have the answer.
If you have been listening to external guidance for a while, chances are that you are familiar with the times when restriction backfires and causes you to binge, overeat or gorge on sugar, causing feelings guilt and shame afterwards.
After years or even decades with dieting and trying all the methods of detoxing under the sun, I often see women have a go at intuitive eating. If the body hasn’t had enough nutrition or was deprived of what it needed, the main principle of intuitive eating often makes women question if that’s going to work for them.
If your body is missing nutrition, it will create cravings, especially for foods that are quick energy, such as stimulants, simple carbs and sugars. Hence when moving straight from years with dieting and restriction to intuitive eating, you may find yourself eating tons of sugar and not being able to stop.
Yes, you should be able to stop once you had enough and your body is filled with nutritious energy. However,
there’s a little issue with this when it comes to sugar, because our satiety receptors do not recognise sugar. So, you might be eating a big volume of food, yet still feel hungry, be malnourished and be putting on unnecessary pounds.
What do I do?
Before trying out intuitive eating, truly ask yourself a few questions:
Is my diet balanced? Does my hunger come on gradually, or do I experience being ‘hangry’ most days? Do I feel satisfied after a meal or do I crave more? Do I need to finish every single meal with a sweet? Is my energy balanced through the day or do I have dips in energy?
Your answers will help you determine if you need to look into nutritional balance and make sure you do so first.
The body, which is out of balance, will not send the right signals and will sabotage all your great efforts towards intuitive eating, leaving you disheartened and unsure of what to do next.
Create physical balance first, which is the essential step in learning intuitive eating. Because you cannot listen to your gut, if your gut is out of balance or unhealthy.