Hi, friends! My husband and I are currently overseas on a two-week long adventure in Ireland, Scotland and London. Follow our adventures over on Instagram! While we’re away, I’ve invited a few of my blogger friends to share recipes and intuitive eating posts! Today’s post is by my friend Savannah.
Hi there! I’m Savannah Thaler, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Air Force wife living in small town Mississippi. I run my own business – Savvy Wellness and Health – doing non-diet wellness and health counseling. Because of my own experiences with disordered eating and exercising in my past, I am all the more passionate about sharing this critical message with any and everyone! Read on for a little “quiz” you can use to assess how you’re doing at Intuitive Eating, one of the most vital practices in holistically healthy living.
Are you trying to eat intuitively?
If your answer is YES, then you’re succeeding. The most beautiful aspect of this eating pattern is that you cannot fail. Even if you notice yourself slipping into some diet-y tendencies or you ate past your fullness cues or you added up the calories in last night’s dinner… that’s OK. Acknowledge these actions and thoughts. Make objective observations so that you can learn from yourself. But remember that your individual actions do not determine your success or failure at intuitive eating. If you’re trying, then you’re already succeeding. Intuitive eating is a lifestyle, not an endpoint. The benefits come along the way, not “at the end.”
To dive in a little more specifically, here are some ways to check in with yourself and assess how you’re doing with living a diet-free, intuitively healthy lifestyle:
In the last week, have there been foods you craved but not allowed yourself to have?
This might be a sign that you’re still holding on to some restrictive habits. If there are foods you still place up on a pedestal and hold off limits, you are preventing yourself from getting the full benefits of the intuitive eating experience. Part of the freedom that comes from intuitive eating is that when no foods are off limits, cravings diminish as your body learns any food is allowed at any time. Honor your cravings and help yourself re-learn that “food is just food.”
In the last week, have there been times you felt hungry and chosen not to eat?
Could have been because it wasn’t a meal or snack time or because you knew you had a big meal coming and were trying to “save up” calories. If so, you’re missing out on a really enjoyable benefit of intuitive eating- the freedom and encouragement to eat whenever you get the hunger signal from your body. This was a difficult one for me to totally grasp and implement. I had this idea that meals would be significantly more satisfying and enjoyable if I went into them starving. Not true. You’ll likely be crankier, more prone to overeat and ultimately in a diet-mentality if you’ve held off on eating just because you wanted to be plenty hungry. The bottom line to remember is this: How do you know if it’s meal or snack time? If your body is sending you hunger signals, it’s meal or snack time. Period.
In the last week, have you had multiple meals where you ate until you felt uncomfortably full/stuffed?
If you are consistently eating past your fullness cues, take some time to explore why that might be. Are you beginning your meals too ravenous and consequently eating too quickly and more food than your body really needed to be satisfied? Are you distracted while eating to the point of not noticing when you are eating beyond your fullness cues? Are you having foods that still feel like “forbidden fruits” and make you want to consume large amounts in the last supper mentality? I’m not here to say that eating past fullness is always wrong. In fact, sometimes you eat for pleasure, satisfaction and enjoyment of the food and atmosphere (ahem, Thanksgiving day). You may end up bursting at the seams by the time you hit dessert. And the beauty of intuitive eating is that this is OK. But ideally, you realize that doing this on a regular basis not only doesn’t feel physically good, but is probably a sign of a deeper food issue with which you are still wrestling. If you’ve never used the hunger scale before, try utilizing it at meal times to help you regain your intentionality regarding when you finish eating. If 1 is ravenous and 10 is painfully stuffed, take note of where you’re at when you start a meal. Then, throughout the meal, begin to ask yourself, “What’s my number?” Once you hit the 7-8ish area, consider being finished with that meal. You may need a snack in a few hours, you may want to come back and finish what was left on your dinner plate later that night, but that’s the point. You eat when you’re hungry, you eat what sounds good, and you eat until you’re satisfied so you rarely get to an uncomfortable fullness OR a hangry rage.
After taking this little “quiz,” if you’re feeling lost or confused about how to move forward with intuitive eating, reach out for help! Thankfully, there are more and more dietitians and health care practitioners taking a non-diet approach who would all be thrilled to help you move forward with your goals of living a free, full and healthy life. Continue reading the writings of awesome dietitians like Emily. Clean out your social media to remove negative, weight-obsessed, diet-culture influences. Above all, show yourself grace! After years of living according to the customs of what diet-culture has taught us, it only makes sense that it will take some time to feel confident and natural on a new and different path.