The Process of Choosing and Eating a Meal as an Intuitive Eater
The process of choosing, creating, and even ordering a meal can be a confusing and tough decision for some! Remember - every meal WILL NOT be perfect! There is no such thing as a perfect intuitive eater. There will be times when you do not have time to eat mindfully. There will be times when you are still hungry after a meal and need to eat more. There will be times that we eat past comfortable fullness. BUT go into these experiences with curiosity over judgement. What can we learn for the next time? Use these 5 steps to help you move through the process of choosing your meal as an intuitive eater.
Step #1: Assessing Hunger.
The first and most important step to decide what and how much to eat is to assess how hungry you are. After all, a meal/snack is supposed to satisfy your hunger!! To complete this step, it is key to get in touch with your body and truly connect with what it’s telling you. If you wake up in the morning and you feel that your body is sending you more hunger signals than usual, this should be reflected in what and how much you eat for breakfast. And maybe think to yourself, “did I eat enough for dinner last night?” This goes for all meals and snacks throughout the day! Being mindful when choosing what to eat cannot be done to the fullest unless you take into account what your body needs in terms of hunger. Not going to lie, this may be a little bit tedious at first, but as you become more accustomed to listening to your body, it will become second nature.
Step #2: Recognize and honor cravings.
This step is so important as an intuitive eater!! If you know you have that leftover pizza in the fridge and that sounds so good to you for lunch, GO FOR IT! Honoring cravings and desires is key in order to prevent the restrict/binge cycle. Give yourself UNCONDITIONAL PERMISSION to honor what your body wants. Not honoring a craving during a meal can lead to overeating or binging on whatever that food may be at a later time. By incorporating cravings, forbidden foods, foods with rules, restricted foods, etc into your everyday meals, you inherently normalize those foods and they don’t end up being so powerful and daunting in the end.
Step #3: Create a balanced meal.
When putting together a meal that is going to serve you best, you want to include variety. This means choosing components from all the different food groups, or as many as you can include. The food groups that are the most satiating are protein, grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy/fat (protein and fiber digest more slowly in our system giving us long lasting energy). Making a meal composed of foods from all of these groups will ensure that your body gets the variety of nutrients it needs. This will also help to make you feel full (listen to those fullness cues) after the meal.
Step #4: Eat mindfully.
In current times, it can be common for a lot of us to want to browse social media or watch our favorite Netflix show while we eat. While this is entertaining, it can prevent you from fully connecting with your body and your food while you eat. I know, it sounds silly to “connect with your food,” but here is why it is important. Eating mindfully allows you to assess how the food is making your body feel as well as where your hunger/fullness lies. It helps us “honor our hunger,” “discover the satisfaction factor,” and “feel our fullness.” (Intuitive Eating principles 2, 5, and 6).. Tuning out of technology and tuning into yourself can help you know what your body is feeling and whether you should eat more or less to be comfortably full!!
Step #5: Assessing fullness.
Do you know that feeling when you’re coming down to the last few bites on your plate and you can’t decide if you should eat them or not? This is where assessing your fullness comes in!! Whether it’s when you’re half-way through your meal, have a few bites left, or you’re done with all the food, tune into your body’s fullness cues and see what it’s telling you. Do you need those last few bites to feel full or are you full where you’re at? Did you eat everything and now you’re uncomfortably full? Or are you just right? These are the questions you should be asking yourself toward the end of a meal in order to provide your body with the amount of food that it needs!
It could feel overwhelming to start eating intuitively. A lot of questions may pop - but don't worry! That is 100% normal and will most likely happen throughout your time as an intuitive eater. I am here for you to help process any and all of these thoughts, so please reach out!
Looking for someone to chat with about intuitive eating? Hi there! I am here to listen and provide a safe and supportive space for discussion. Feel free to schedule a free discovery call to learn how we can work together.