While the terms can be used pretty interchangeably, intuitive eating and mindful eating are somewhat different. Here’s the thing though: they both offer you peace and freedom in your food choices. Dieting is a thing of the past, but being mindful of what you’re enjoying (or not) and intuitive about what feels good to your body—this is the focus this decade.
Not to push all your healthy eating efforts aside, because those are still just as important. What’s not necessary is restricting, counting calories, depriving, skipping whole food groups … you get the picture. I’m still encouraging real foods and making choices that support a healthy lifestyle. I just want you to be a little more flexible and consistent, and in my experience, the more people don’t feel like they’re missing out, the more they can commit.
In my practice, we focus a lot on intuitive eating, by using our pillars of nutrition while knowing what works best for your body. I’ll give you an example. We assess our clients to get them in proper calorie ranges, but we prefer they don’t even know how many calories they are “supposed to get” so they can focus on trusting their own intuition. So without counting the calories during their meal, they eat what’s on the plan. However, if they’re still hungry, they can eat more. If they can’t finish, then they can save the rest of their food for another time. There are no hard and fast rules about how much they need to eat. We teach that they are the boss of what they put into their bodies. Besides, is there anything more unpleasant than eating and feeling hungry (or worse, hangry) an hour later? On top of that, caloric needs change with life’s seasons—age, hormones, activity level, and so on.
We also don’t restrict food groups or certain types of foods as a whole. What we teach is to pay attention to how certain foods make you feel. You may be able to handle a little gluten or dairy or soy. The important thing is that you know what works for YOU, and knowing what works for you is intuitive.
When it comes to mindful eating, it’s really about mindful living, which obviously includes the eating portion. Being present in the moment. If you’re having a glass of wine, can you pinpoint any distinct tastes? Are you enjoying every sip? The same goes for food. Take your time eating the food, focusing on the value of it: the nutrients and the taste. Or maybe you’re eating a meal that isn’t as healthy, but you really love it. We all love pizza, right? Are you present in the process, or are you absently stuffing your face? Being present has benefits for our entire body and mind. Mindful living is very similar. As you’re taking a walk outside, do you notice the slight breeze or scent from the blooming flowers? The sound of the birds chirping? Start being more aware of each moment and watch your whole life change.
Focusing on mindful and intuitive eating is the first step to healing. Let go of fear and step into living fully.