Most of us have probably tried several Diets. Wether if it was low carb, high carb, paleo or the Keto diet. There are so many people out there, telling you, how you can finally loose weight, how you can be super healthy and which foods you should not be eating ever again. And let me tell you: I tried everything. So many days have passed, where I would just think about what to eat next, craving things I wasn’t suppose to eat and not enjoying what was actually on my plate. Going to a restaurant felt more like torture and after several years of not having the success I was looking for, I even ended up with an eating disorder.
So I asked myself: is loosing weight really worth all of that? NO, but I still wanted to loose some Kilos and get in better shape again. That’s when I heard about intuitive eating. Sounds great, but what is it? how do I start? and does it really work? where questions that came into my mind. Can I maybe even loose weight this way?
1. What is intuitive eating
As you might have already guessed: it’s all about using your intuition on what and when to eat. Sounds super easy? It is!
Other than all the diets out there, eating intuitively means trusting your body again. Because your body knows best, what it needs! You don’t believe me? Just think about little kids. If you give them something to eat, when they’re full, they won’t eat another spoon unless someone tells them the weather’s gonna be bad tomorrow, if they don’t. If you ask them what they want to eat, mostly they can tell you what they’re craving for or at least pick between the different options you give them.
To sum it up: You eat whenever, whatever and how much you want/ need.
2. struggles you may have at the beginning
The biggest struggle people have (including me when I started) is to really eat what we are craving for. We are so trained to label certain foods as bad and others as good. So for example, when we really feel like having a chocolate croissant, our mind already starts to talk us out of it. Should I really be eating this? Is there not something else that also tastes good but has less calories? I will never have the body I desire when I don’t stop eating bad foods. Can you relate?
The hardest part is to stop judging whatever you are craving for and ‘just’ having it. Actually not ‘just having it’ but also really enjoying it with no regrets. Be kind to yourself and observe the thoughts that might be coming up.
Secondly you might find it hard to stop eating whenever you are full. This is one of the struggles I felt like I could never get rid of. Especially when I had dinner at a restaurant my mind would go like “you payed for this, so you better eat it all”. As I mentioned at the very beginning, as kids we already get told, that the weather is going to be bad, if we don’t eat it all. Or maybe we were asked if we didn’t like it, just because we didn’t want more. So subconsciously we still think something bad is going to happen or we fear that others may think we don’t appreciate the food. But let me tell you: “Your Body Is Not A Trashcan!”
After years and years of overeating, it may take a while until you finally realize when you’re full again. Be patient and also don’t judge yourself if you overeat again. This is totally normal and even if I’ve been eating intuitively for a couple of years now, I still sometimes overeat.
3. How to really start with intuitive eating
A lot of experts out there tell you to just start by eating whatever you feel like. If that’s chocolate, chips or gummy bears for the first week, you should just go for it. They are certain, that after a couple of days you’ll pick something healthier anyways. Let me tell you: This did not work for me!
I started to eat one chocolate bar after another. For salty foods, I wanted to have something greasy all the time and the last thing I wanted were vegetables. So I quit after just a couple of days. Maybe it works if sticking to it for longer, but I just couldn’t handle my thoughts going like “what if I gain 10 Kilos and never stop having those cravings?”
I think the real problem is our industry, that puts tons of sugar in our foods. So the cravings we are having are not actually something our body needs, but something our body is addicted to. It is almost impossible to feel the difference, when you’re just starting.
Knowing that, I can only recommend you, to cut out industrial sugars for a couple of days at the beginning, to feel what you actually crave or need. That’s also what I did. It was super hard the first 3 days. I had the worst cravings for everything sweet. Muffins, chocolate, cake…. but I stayed strong. After a week I had my first sugary muffin again and surprisingly couldn’t eat all of it, because it tasted too sweet for me. CRAZZZYY !!
Now you might be thinking “How am I suppose to not eat sugar for a whole week?” Here’s my secret: I cut out industrial sugars, but instead used natural sweeteners like fruits or honey. And believe me, there are some AMAZING recipes out there! Dried dates (even if you don’t like them on their own) are the best tip I got. My favorite desert was snickers cake made with nuts, dates and coconut milk. A lot of calories? Yes, BUT you will not eat as much as you might think, plus your body gets a lot of nutrients out of it.
4. TOP 3 benefits of eating intuitively
There are many benefits of eating intuitively. So here are my TOP 3 of what I love so much about it (one that’s not on my list: I got in better shape, which I never did with dieting) :
a) FINALLY ENJOYING FOOD AGAIN
The first thing that is super obvious but also one of the best things, you will finally start to enjoy your food again. Just eating what you really feel like is great! Sitting at the dinner table with friends is so much more fun, when you don’t crave whatever they are having, because you took the dish with less calories. Whenever you are crossing a bakery that smells super good, you don’t have to overthink anymore. Just go and have it, if you really feel like it! (make sure you don’t eat out of curiosity, because you want to know what something tastes like, without feeling the ‘hunger’ for it – that’s what I did a lot of times). Now it’s all about enjoying life, including the foods you eat.
b) feeling more energized
At the beginning I could’ve never imagined myself really picking ‘healthy’ over ‘unhealthy’ foods. But if you truly listen to your body, he exactly tells you what he needs and wants and sometimes that’s a salad or vegetables. I promise, if you really listen, you will pick the right foods intuitively. By right foods I mean the ones that you need at that very moment. This helps your body to function in the best way possible and gives you more energy. By the way: sometimes sugar can be what you’re craving for, then that can also be something your body needs at that moment!
c) Reduces stress
Eating intuitively reduces stress. Why? Because all the times you where thinking about what to eat and what not to eat you triggered stress. Just think of you, being in a café with a friend, not allowing yourself to have that chocolate croissant you really crave. How often will you think about having it? How many times do you fight with yourself in your head? If you would just have it, without regrets, you would probably enjoy the times with your friend much more, right? So I guess you get the point – happy times will be even happier (:
5. Final thoughts
Give yourself time, to really get used to intuitive eating. It took me over one year to really eat everything I was craving for, without any regrets. But you will see, that you will get better at it very soon.
Also, as mentioned above, there are really healthy alternatives to industrial sweets, that will help you to stop the craving. Nowadays I enjoy the ‘healthy alternatives’ more, anyways. Why? Because I know they make me feel good and also help by satisfying my cravings. If I eat sweets with industrial sugars, I mostly get headaches afterwards, plus I will have that craving shortly afterwards again. But this doesn’t mean I have them anyways from time to time (;
Trying out different foods for different cravings will help you to start understanding what your body needs. Don’t expect yourself to always know and especially not right at the beginning. Just see it as an experiment and have fun with it.