Intuitive eating, the practice of eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are satiated, and honoring your body’s innate wisdom, seems like such a simple concept, but it can be very difficult for many of us to practice. When we were little, we knew when we were hungry. As babies and toddlers, when we would feel physical hunger, we would ask for food. Likewise, when we had had enough food, we would push it away.
But somewhere along the way, many of us began to tune out our bodies’ hunger and fullness signals. Maybe your parents insisted that you “clean your plate” at dinner, pushing you past your feelings of fullness or perhaps you learned to ignore your hunger cues and skipped a meal because it wasn’t “time to eat” yet. Or maybe you’ve been bombarded by the media’s messages about dieting and how eating less and especially not eating even if you are hungry are the keys to weight loss. Over time, as we continue to ignore our bodies’ signals, we begin to not recognize them anymore.
The majority of my patients look at me with complete disbelief that they would ever be able to regain their hunger and fullness cues again and trust their bodies to tell them when and how much to eat. But, with practice, many of my patients soon realize that they recognize what it feels like to be hungry before a meal and how much food it takes them to feel physically satisfied. It takes time and patience, but eventually you can begin to trust your body to tell you what it needs.
Intuitive eating does not happen overnight, and it takes a lot of time to “unlearn” certain habits and behaviors, such as skipping meals or cleaning one’s plate regardless of hunger or fullness. But when you learn to trust your body’s innate wisdom and be kind to yourself, you will be amazed at the progress you make.