A more accessible and better way to lead a healthy & leaner life
As a previous bodybuilding enthusiast, eating six times a day was part of my lifestyle. However, it was hard when I began to eat several meals a day. I would force myself to eat at particular times, which was hard considering I wasn’t in the least bit hungry. When we constantly feed ourselves something, we begin to mess with our body clock, skilled at signalling hunger and fullness. I believe my constant feeding times led to my weight gain when that bodybuilding journey ended. I had forgotten to listen to my body and pay attention to the various signals. In my usual unstoppable style, I just kept going through the messaging. Exercising when I was exhausted, stressed and still eating yet another meal despite feeling full and sick. Perhaps at one stage, we’ve all blocked our intuition. That can happen in a relationship with the wrong person, saying yes to something we don’t want to do out of obligation, and diminishing our own needs at the expense of work. These blockers inhibit our faith — our body and intuition can guide us to the correct answers and the path towards happiness. For many years I, too, blocked my intuition. The less we listen, the louder it gets &, and the more unhappy we become. ‘It’s so easy to dismiss it for ‘just a silly feeling’ or, as I used to say, ‘I’m quite possibly going mad.’ These are just a few things I would tell myself when the intuitive voice started to overtake my logic. Before my mother became terminally ill, my intuition always threw me crumbled signals every few days. It would tell me things that scared me — such as, ‘your mum wont be around for much longer and. ‘you should spend more time with her because you don’t know what tomorrow holds.” But, like any daughter, I believed mum would live forever, and that’s why her cancer diagnosis shocked me. My intuition was correct all along — It guided me the right way despite my lack of awareness. Now, I choose to listen to everything — despite how much I like or dislike it. You may be wondering what this has to do with food. It has absolutely everything to do with food and your entire life, for that matter. Letting intuitive guide your life and eating habits is not an unknown concept. However, instead of relying on external factors such as meal or diet plans, it allows your body’s natural signs and impulses to guide your eating habits. This can be a difficult way to dictate your life. We’re all so used to rigid plans and custom-made food schedules. Do we have what it takes to make it happen under our guidance? If we take that chance, Intuitive eating allows one to break the never-ending cycle of chronic dieting and listen carefully to those internal cues — such as hunger signals, thirst, fullness and even rest. In this way, we leave behind the dreaded nutritional timing and macro-specific guidelines, which may have been a part of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, this form of nutrition is not hard at all, but it’s pretty easy to allow it to get out of control. It takes time, practice and effort to get to a position where you are no longer governed by the timing of a clock or led by those food scales and the size of particular macronutrients. The risk may result in weight gain — but there is also a benefit that you might finally find some happiness and balance in your life. How does letting go of obsessive food cravings and the clock ticking sound to you? A lot more relaxing and less stressful if you ask me!
So, what does this involve then? It’s pretty simple
We must learn to respect hunger — and not ignore it, but there is also a need to understand and accept fullness as an essential part of nutrition. We no longer use food as means to torment ourselves, rather than to honour it as a nourishing part of our lives. We’re eliminating those negative aspects of food that are part of our natural conditioning due to excessive dieting. Here are the ten principles to live by when practising intuitive eating.
- Rejecting the diet mentality once and for all
- Honour hunger instead of ignoring it
- Make peace with food — junk or healthy food has a place in the ecosystem of life.
- Challenge your usual food principles
- Discover the satisfaction factor in sitting down to enjoy a meal in peace, rather than on a time limit
- Respect your fullness — stop eating instead of pushing through it.
- Honour your feelings without using food to end emotional eating
- Respect your body as a place that houses your soul and requires nourishment on all levels
- Exercise — bring in movement every single day.
- Honour your health — gentle nutrition, without restrictions and obsession
As you can see, these are principles you may already know of but have possibly become too scared to try.We no longer trust that our intuition can provide us with the signals needed to maintain a healthy and enjoyable life.
What is one thing this way of living can do for you?
The key benefit here is mental health. Chronic dieting can leave us with many benefits, such as:
- Improvement in bodyweight stability
- Higher self-esteem
- trust within our ability to know our bodies
- improved body image and appreciation
- less binge eating instances
- less disorientated eating
- more heightened sense of well being
Just imagine a life without obsessing about your body. What would that do for you right now and those around you?
Some ways to monitor your intuitive eating
Now, I know some of you may not trust yourself to start the process without some form of help so that you can begin to wean yourself off the clock watching.
That’s why I’ve come up with some alternatives to help you along the way
Keep an intuitive diary
This could easily integrate into your phone on a notebook. Tracking your signals before, during and after a meal will help you slowly become accustomed to intuitive eating and allow your body to govern appetite and satiety naturally.Grab your diary and graph the following sentences:
- The time and place of a meal
- How you are feeling before eating
- What kinds of food do you eat
- How do you feel after eating
- And any other comments you may like to add.
Please download my FREE printable mindful diary here if you want something tangible. This is probably the most simple and most minor time-effective step, forcing you to stop and become aware of what’s happening within and without. Of course, you don’t have to do this for several weeks, but trusting yourself is a great starting point.
Key take away
This is not a one size fits all approach and may not work for everyone. I am challenging myself to utilise this method with my regular fasting — which I enjoy. But I believe if you have become stuck in a dieting phase, and it’s not working for you on a spiritual, mental and emotional level, then this could be a great way to ‘break the ties’ and try something else. I have found that fasting has helped increase my intuitive hunger and fullness signals whilst allowing me the flexibility to eat the things I enjoy while ensuring I make the most of my healthy options. I felt much more relaxed and at peace with my eating and exercising now — something highly stressful before I began this lifestyle. I would never go back to that again. Have you tried intuitive eating, and is that something you’d like to try? Try the printable diary available FREE here to start getting into mindful eating.
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