For those of you with small children, or those who have spent any time with small children, you may notice they don’t eat like adults.
Of course you will run across the typical resistance to anything green, or if anything on the plate is touching anything green. Or that they may spend what seems like forever eating only one type of food (like pasta), or everything from the same color palette (white). Thankfully these precious little humans eventually grow out of these eating habits.
But what is noteworthy is how little kids know how much to eat before they stop eating. They are natural intuitive eaters. They are authentically in tune with when they’ve eaten enough to satisfy their bodies, and then they just stop. Even with food left on the plate! Even with desserts!
Unfortunately, by the time these little ones grow up, they’ve lost their intuitive ability around eating. They’ve been exposed to messages about finishing what’s on their plates, or supersized meal portions when eating out, or using food to celebrate/reward/soothe, etc. As they’ve grown out of their funny eating habits, they’ve also grown out of their intuitive eating abilities.
What is intuitive eating anyway?
Holding intuitive eating as an ideal can relieve so much pressure for so many people. Brought down to the most basic explanation, to eat intuitively one must be in tune with themselves enough to realize when they’re hungry and stop eating when they’re satisfied. By being in tune with one’s body you avoid becoming too famished and also becoming too stuffed. (For more on the subject check out the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA. Or the website www.intuitiveeating.org).
Re-connecting with that natural ability to be in tune with your body’s needs is not simple. The concepts are simple, but putting them into play and going against entrenched patterns of emotional eating or mindless eating takes time.
Where to start? Tuning in to yourself
A good place to begin is to practice tuning in. Take a few breaks throughout the day of only a few minutes to just tune in to yourself. Start by experiencing all your senses, then move from the sensations on the outside of your body to those on the inside. Then move to how you might be feeling physically (hungry, tired, tense, etc.), then to what you may notice emotionally (anxious, sad, content, etc). Then take a deep breath and realize you’ve just tuned in and registered how you’re doing in that particular moment.
next? tuning in to your eating
Once you get a sense of how to do this, you can extend the process to your eating. Notice how you’re doing just before eating, during and after. Practice eating mindfully — noticing your food and your experience eating it at that moment. Notice the textures, temperature, taste, etc.
Intuitive eating is never a rigid process, nor is it a formula. There are no good and bad foods. It’s quite natural and fluid. It’s a way of just attuning to yourself enough to know what you need.
Try to remember life before you were taught to clear your plate. But this time you get to enjoy more than just pasta!
If you think food and your emotions are dictating your eating more than your intuition, I can help. Together we can work to find your freedom from food issues.