Our intuition is a powerful tool to use when making choices for just about anything in life. The more we practice using our intuition on a moment-to-moment basis, the easier it is to connect to our body’s wisdom and to align ourselves with what we need to be fully nourished. In every moment we have the opportunity to be mindful or mindless. Tapping into our innate intuition and noticing, then honoring, respecting, and listening to the body’s signs and signals is a meaningful way to practice everyday mindfulness.
Intuitive eating can be challenging because we are constantly flooded with new concepts and ideas about what’s healthy. We are faced with mixed messages every day and, as a result, most of us have lost the connection to our deep internal feelings and body cues. Many of us eat because it’s time to socialize or sometimes because we’re bored or emotionally triggered. It’s incredibly important to ask yourself, “Am I hungry or thirsty right now?" or "What does my body truly need?" If something doesn’t feel right, slow down, tune in, and make a choice that illuminates you inside and out.
Here are several intuitive eating principles to help you reconnect to your inner guide. When you take these principles into account, you’ll begin to eat from a gentle place of nurturing and mindfulness. Living intuitively is taking the advice that feels true to you and your body - so honor yourself and your body and leave the rest behind!
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
We all get gut feelings about what feels good and what does not. Our bodies intuit what it is we need in order to maintain balance and internal equanimity. Tune into those messages coming from your gut or your body’s reactions to foods. Generally, your body will speak to you with an internal, yet resounding “yes” or “no.” It’s your job to listen. Honor your body and acknowledge the signals it sends you. This sets the stage for rebuilding trust with yourself and your decisions.
SLOW DOWN & PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Eating mindfully is a natural and pleasurable experience that supports our health and well-being. Your whole body will benefit from slowing down and being present while eating. Remember, it is not just what you eat, but how you eat that matters. Apply this mindfulness practice to everything you do. Stay present with yourself and your body and make adjustments when something doesn’t feel right.
HONOR THE PHASES OF LIFE
What feels good to your body will naturally change as you go through the various phases of life, from your teenage years to becoming a young woman to being pregnant, a mother, a woman going through menopause, and beyond. Honor and respect the different stages of your life and listen to what your body is telling you, because as much as we crave routine and sameness, what your body wants will naturally change as you go through these cycles. If you’re pregnant, you may be extra hungry - so fuel up! Or perhaps you’re trying to follow a healthy pregnancy diet and yet all you can stomach is something bland and less nutrient-rich - follow your body’s wisdom and eat accordingly. If you’re older and less hungry, don’t force yourself to eat more - less food is naturally needed in your elder years as constipation is often an issue, so don’t overdo it. Listen to and honor your body, no matter where it’s at. And don’t expect it to always stay the same.
MOVE WITH THE SEASONS
When you tailor your diet, sleep schedule, and lifestyle to match the rhythms of nature, you’ll find yourself easily and naturally in better health and alignment. For example, in the wintertime, honoring the gentle and internal energies of the season means slowing down, resting, and making time for grounding rituals.
This could look like: Going to bed earlier, eating warming meals (in the winter), and doing some type of daily exercise - even if it’s a walk or gentle yoga.
Nourish your body with the most vibrant and alive food available. Limit overly processed foods and junk foods that continue to trigger your body into wanting more long after you’ve had them - if you eat these foods regularly, digestion slows and so does your clarity and discernment. Remember that you do not have to eat perfectly to be healthy, but the cleaner you eat, the more clear you will be to make mindful decisions about what truly serves you. Keep your body well-fed with foods that provide adequate energy by eating balanced meals and staying properly hydrated. Support your body into a natural state of ease so that tuning into your intuition comes effortlessly.
Try sticking to a regular meals and regular meal times. Consume balanced meals with protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Nourishing yourself regularly throughout the day with balanced meals helps keep your metabolism fueled, blood sugar stable, and moods consistent.
HONOR YOUR FEELINGS
Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout our day-to-day lives. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. Find ways to nurture, comfort, and resolve your issues without using food. Sure, food may offer a fleeting comfort, maybe distract you from the pain, or even numb you into a food coma, but food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating emotionally will make you feel more disconnected. It’s important to honor your feelings, whatever they may be, and to reach out to loved ones when you need support. This will help you get clear and connect you to your heart space once more, so you can make conscious decisions. While a once-in-a-while chocolate binge isn’t harmful, it’s important to face your feelings and to honor what’s really going on. Taking care of your body fuels a positive cycle, as feeling good in your body helps you to face and move through the challenges of life with more grace & ease.
UTILIZE ANCIENT WISDOM
Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and macrobiotic principles teach us that we contain all the elements of the earth and that in order to create inner harmony, each element must be represented in our meals. If you’re having intense cravings, these systems can teach us how to bring more balance and harmony to our lives and our diets. Create balanced dishes using bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and pungent foods & watch as your cravings dissipate pre- & post-meal.
Healing is not linear and there is no one way that works for everyone - we each have our own individual constitution. If you’re struggling to get in tune with your innate intuition or are dealing with multiple health issues or imbalances, working directly with a nutritional practitioner for guidance can be a key step in healing.