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  • Sara

What is Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating?

Combining mindful eating with intuitive eating can be very helpful for anyone struggling with their relationship with food, such as someone who has an eating disorder. Eating mindfully can help you appreciate food more and can also help you be more in tune with your own hunger and fullness cues. This can lead to eating less, since you’re more likely to stop when you’re actually satisfied. When you eat mindfully, you pay attention to all the senses involved in the experience: the taste, texture, smell, and appearance of the food, as well as the sound it makes as you chew. You’re also aware of your own body, and how the food makes you feel.

Intuitive eating is all about tuning into your body at a deep level to understand what it needs at any given time in order to feel satisfied. It involves rejecting diet culture and, instead, being more mindful of what you body is asking for in order to maintain a health balance. As part of this, the practice involves valuing everyone regardless of thinness, appearance, shape, and well-being. This framework welcomes people of all sizes and can be a great way to help folks establish a strong relationship with food, mind, and body without centering eating habits around the concept of losing weight. It helps people to tap back into innate body cues like hunger and fullness. Keep in mind that intuitive eating is NOT just eating whatever we want, whenever we want. It is more about listening to our bodies and fueling our bodies with what they need rather than eating junk or restrictively eating.

If you’re interested in trying out mindful eating, there are a few simple tips you can follow:

-Set aside some time to eat, and make sure you won’t be interrupted. Turn off your phone and focus solely on the task at hand.

-Sit down at a table and take a few deep breaths before you start.

-Start with small bites and savor each one. Pay attention to the taste, texture, and smell of the food.

-Eat slowly and take breaks between bites. It’s okay to chew with your mouth open, and to make some noise!

-Check in with your body and pay attention to how you’re feeling. Are you still hungry, or are you starting to feel full?

Is you would like to practice eating intuitively, consider the following:

Take a few minutes to yourself, in peace and quiet. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and envision what’s going on in your body.

Notice if you are experiencing any cravings.

Using this information, determine what your body needs to be satisfied. If you find that it is craving junk food, you can easy search online for healthy alternatives to satisfy the same craving.

Once we hit a certain stage in our lives, a lot of us tend to eat for reasons beside hunger. For example, looking at the clock and realizing it’s lunchtime and relying on time cues instead of hunger cues happens more often than we may even realize. Eating when we are bored or stressed is another example. If we have had a rough day, we might lean on unhealthy or comfort foods as a sort of reward for getting through the day. When we began our lives, we ate intuitively. When you think of infants, they don’t have that internal monologue of “I should stop eating. But it tastes so good. Okay maybe just a little bit more and I’ll work out tomorrow to make up for it”…They just eat when they need to and stop when they are full. Because we all have that natural instinct, we are all able to tap back into and practice eating more intuitively.

Honoring hunger is the centerpiece of both mindful and intuitive eating. Hunger should be separated from all of the other reasons we may feel an urge to eat. If you try ranking your hunger on a scale of 1-10, that’s a great place to start. Your body is different from anyone else’s so your point on the scale where you believe that it is time to eat might differ from someone else and that’s okay! From there, depending on the number you arrive at, you can determine if you need to eat and, if so, how much.

A final note is to make peace with your food. Too many people view food as something that they earn and not something that they need to fuel themselves throughout the day. When you are super restrictive with your diet, you are more likely to crash and burn, which can lead to binge eating or emotional eating. Provide yourself the space to learn to love food again. Following your intuitive cues and then eating mindfully can change your relationship with food entirely.


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