Are you ready for another installment on intuitive eating? I know I am no scientist, dietitian, or expert, but this is something I am passionate about and I love sharing my thoughts on the approach. Today I will be tackling principle two and how it will help with eating intuitively. To catch up on parts 1 and 2, click here for my introduction and here for rejecting the diet mentality. After reading, please be sure to share your insights as well 🙂
Principle Two – Honor Your Hunger
How easily do you recognize your hunger signals? Do you know what hungry feels like, in comparison to reaching the point of wanting to inhale anything and everything? Do you know what satisfied feels like, versus stuffed too full or having to convince yourself you have eaten enough? Hunger and fullness are two physiological signs that we should be able to easily recognize, but many of us do not. Perhaps it is because we follow a clock on when to eat. Perhaps it’s because we stick to rules on how much should be in any given meal. Or perhaps its because we allow emotions, stress, boredom, etc to be the sole determination of how, what, and when we eat. And what about pills that have claims like this?
After following those types of actions for any extended period of time, we begin to lose sight of our bodies’ signals. We may get to the point of only being able to recognize extreme hunger. That “MUST. EAT. NOW!” feeling. Have you ever not eaten when hungry because you weren’t “supposed to”, only to turn around and eat more than necessary and feel uncomfortable from eating too much? Most of you know I have experience there, back before Makenzie when I battled binging. Fluctuations like these are common when not eating based on biological hunger.
How can you learn to honor your hunger again? There are various things you can be mindful of to help reacquaint yourself with your own hunger cues.
- Recognize and allow yourself to always have access to food. If you try to eat based on a certain number of calories, a certain number of meals/snacks per day, only eating certain types of food, etc your body and mind will register the deprivation. Even if you are eating enough, having any limitations in place can affect how you perceive your hunger.
- Know you don’t have to be ravenous to be hungry. Those are two different feelings and your body will respond differently to both. If you eat when simply hungry, you are more likely to be able to approach food in a rational manner, instead of being ravenous and consuming too much and not enjoying the process.
- Check in with your body regularly and assess your hunger level on a 1-10 scale. This will eventually become unnecessary and is simply a step in getting your body aware of how it feels when hungry.
- Don’t consider eating only when hungry a way to lose weight and another diet mentality. It is perfectly acceptable to eat under different circumstances. The Intuitive Eating book mentions emotional eating, social eating, eating as a way of planning ahead (for example eating before hunger due to being in a meeting for hours and you know you will need to eat), and eating something purely for pleasure. Doing things mindfully are no reason to feel guilty and can definitely be part of honoring your hunger and intuitive eating.
- Understand your body’s warning signals. Some people may feel their stomach growling before others would in their level of hunger. Some may get a slight headache first. Others may get a bit cranky as a sign of hunger. *cough cough* When checking your levels of hunger regularly with the 1-10 scale, focus on what your physiological symptoms are and being to recognize them for the future.
Are you aware of your hunger cues? What things of the above do you, or have you, struggled with the most? Which of Tribole & Resch’s tips do you think are most helpful for honoring hunger?