By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Have you heard of intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is essentially what we learn as babies and children: eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are full. It’s listening to your body’s internal cues, and knowing what to feed your body.

Intuitive eating is an important part of leading a balanced lifestyle. Being able to eat what your body needs, and not too much or too little, is a huge accomplishment. Learning to do this after dieting is hard, but not impossible.

Anyone can try intuitive eating, as long as you understand that it may take time to learn your body’s signals. It isn’t eat anything, in large quantities until sick. It is allowing yourself to live without food rules, and focused on eating to feel your best. It is trusting your instincts, without rules, restrictions, or guidelines to tell you what you can or can’t eat. For many of us this is a foreign concept, and somewhat scary. We have learned so many food rules over our lives, and we’ve learned to restrict our eating.

If intuitive eating is something you wish to try, here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Practice asking yourself what you are hungry for. By thinking more about your food choices, you start to see what you truly want. Sometimes that may be a salad, and sometimes that may be a cookie. With intuitive eating, both of those things fit and are included in a balanced lifestyle.
  1. Practice recognizing fullness. Set the timer, or work to extend your meal for at least 20 minutes. Focus on eating and enjoying the meal you have in front of you. Turn off distractions like the TV, and put away your phone. By focusing on your meal, you can truly tune into hunger and fullness more easily.
  1. Practice eating a food you don’t normally allow yourself to eat. Work on having a healthier relationship with whatever food that is. For a lot of people it’s a carbohydrate like bread. When we demonize a food, we make it more tempting, and feel guilty if we eat it. By finding ways to incorporate food you enjoy in a healthy way, you will end up eating less. When it is no longer a food you have to give up, you are no longer obsessed with it. It simply exists as part of your life.
  1. Be patient. Just like any skill or habit, we have to repeatedly work at it.

If you think you may be ready to try intuitive eating, mention it to your health coach, or check out the resources available at intuitiveeating.org.  It’s a tool that can help you work toward creating a healthier relationship with food.

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