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From Counting Calories to Trusting Your Body: The Journey to Intuitive Eating


Intuitive eating aims to simplify your eating habits by encouraging you to listen to your body's natural cues and decide what to eat based on internal hunger and satiety signals. Intuitive eating involves paying attention to your hunger and fullness without categorizing foods as "good" or "bad," unlike most diets that impose restrictions or bans.


However, intuitive eating doesn't mean eating whatever you want whenever you want. It's more about developing a healthy relationship with food and tuning into your body's natural signals of hunger and satisfaction.


By practicing intuitive eating, you also move away from the notion that you need to lose or gain weight to achieve a specific appearance. The focus shifts to choosing foods that support your overall health and mental well-being.


Achieve your fitness goals now through personalized guidance from your online nutrition and fitness coach. Book a call now!



intuitive eating


Making the Shift: From Food Tracking to Intuitive Eating


Intuitive eating works better when you already have a good understanding of food and have previously tracked your macros. But right after dieting for fat loss, our bodies don't operate "intuitively".


Intuitively, our bodies resist weight loss because it signals famine. Intuitive eating generally succeeds when we're within a healthy weight range, neither underweight nor overweight, and when hormone levels and body fat percentage are healthy.


By tracking macros previously, you should now be better equipped to estimate foods and their nutritional values.


It's important to continue sticking to your habits and pay attention to both your health, body weight, reflection in the mirror, and your well-being!


If you have just finished your fat loss diet, it's not advisable to immediately start intuitive eating because it's highly probable that you'll regain fat quickly.

Therefore, I recommend making the transition slowly by gradually incorporating more flexibility and intuition before completely relying on your intuition.



Practical Steps for Transitioning to Intuitive Eating

transition to intuitive eating
How to transition to intuitive eating after tracking calories precisely

Make a slow transition instead of stopping tracking abruptly:

  • Start with tracking calories every other day or only a few days per week

  • Estimate individual meals, by breaking them down into their components

  • Incorporate individual "intuitive eating" days a few times per week


Gradually track less and less over time and estimate more often:

  • Put your ingredients into a bowl, estimate how much it is and measure afterward to check if your intuition is close to being right

  • Stop tracking veggies and fruits and estimate without weighing them

  • Weigh calorie-rich foods like oats, pasta, or rice but no longer track them

  • Use portion and plate sizes as a guide instead of weighing everything

  • Once a month or so, use your app to track one day to keep your learnings current



eat intuitive

Example Protocol for Transitioning to Intuitive Eating Over 5 Weeks

Week 1

  • Stop tracking low calorie foods, like veggies and fruits and estimate without weighing them

  • Don't track your dinner 2x per week

Week 2

  • Only track 80% of your meals, and estimate the rest

  • Estimate amounts of higher calories foods, like pasta or oats, and track afterwards, to see if you were right

Week 3

  • Track calories every other day

Week 4

  • Track only 2x per week

Week 5

  • Track only 1x per week and stop tracking after this week



The Main 3 Principles for Intuitive Eating


1. Recognize your hunger:

If you ignore and neglect your biological, physical signals, it is very likely that your body will retaliate afterwards with cravings and uncontrolled eating behavior. Once you reach the point of extreme hunger, your body quickly loses control, and its focus is only on eating and the need to survive.


Learn to recognize your hunger and eat as soon as you feel a "healthy" hunger sensation. Trust yourself that your body knows when it needs to eat again and recognize your hunger signals. Also, ask yourself where and how you feel hunger. Maybe you feel like you have a hole in your stomach, you become unfocused, get headaches, etc. It is also important not to compare yourself to others.


Everyone has a different tolerance for how long they can go without eating without feeling bad. The number of meals you need per day also varies from person to person - no comparisons! Listen to YOUR body and your individual hunger sensation!


Pay attention to your signals and eat as soon as you perceive a healthy hunger sensation and avoid excessively exploiting hunger to avoid subsequent binge eating episodes. Get in touch with your body. If you have ignored your hunger for a long time, it takes some time to "relearn" it, but the process is worth it!



eat intuitively


2. Feel Your Fullness and Satiety:

When you allow yourself to eat whatever you want, especially after a prolonged period of under eating, you can trigger a drive to overeat. This is why a slow increase in calories after dieting, through a reverse diet, is essential. You need to relearn how to recognize fullness and the feeling of true satiety. Rebuilding this trust in yourself and in food might take some time.


After your hunger and satiety levels return to normal, you can eat when and what you truly want.


Spotting satiety and fullness in your body involves tuning into specific physical and emotional signals that indicate you've had enough to eat.

Here are some key ways to recognize these signals.


Physical Signals of Fullness:

  • Stomach Sensations: Pay attention to how your stomach feels. Satiety usually manifests as a comfortable, pleasant feeling of fullness. Your stomach shouldn't feel overly full or distended.

  • Absence of Hunger Pangs: Notice the absence of hunger signals, such as stomach growling or emptiness.

  • Energy Levels: You should feel a steady level of energy rather than a sharp spike or drop, indicating that your body has received sufficient nutrients.

  • Subtle Fullness: Often, fullness starts with subtle signs that grow more noticeable over time. Recognize these early cues to avoid overeating.

  • Slower Eating Pace: As you approach fullness, your eating pace naturally slows down. You might find yourself chewing more slowly or taking longer pauses between bites.


Emotional and Mental Signals of Fullness:

  • Satisfaction: Assess your overall sense of satisfaction with the meal. If you feel content and no longer think about food, you're likely reaching satiety.

  • Decreased Interest in Food: Notice if the appeal of food diminishes. When you're truly satisfied, food may become less tempting or interesting.

  • Comfortable Ending: You should feel ready to stop eating without feeling deprived or overly stuffed.

  • Mindfulness: Practicing mindful eating can help you tune into these signals more effectively. Focus on the taste, texture, and experience of eating, which can enhance your awareness of satiety.


Tips to Improve Satiety Awareness:

  • Eat Slowly: Give your body time to register fullness by eating slowly and savoring each bite.

  • Pause and Check-In: Halfway through your meal, pause and ask yourself how full you feel. This can help you recognize early signals of satiety.

  • Avoid Distractions: Eating without distractions (like TV or smartphones) can help you stay attuned to your body's signals.

  • Regular Meals: Eat regular, don't skip meals and eat meals that contain all three macronutrients. Your food should taste delicious, but keep in mind that high palatable foods can make you overeat really easy.

By paying attention to these signals and practicing mindful and intuitive eating, you can better recognize when your body has had enough, leading to a more intuitive and balanced approach to eating.



3. Say Goodbye to Diet Rules and Food Restrictions

Banning diet rules and food restrictions is essential when starting intuitive eating. This freedom allows you to reconnect with your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. It will reduce the urge to overeat and helps you to establish a healthier relationship with food.


Diet restrictions can lead to feelings of deprivation, making certain foods more tempting and potentially causing binges or cravings or emotional eating. By allowing yourself to eat whatever you want, you break this cycle and diminish the appeal of once-forbidden foods. This approach also eliminates the guilt and shame associated with breaking diet rules, promoting mental and emotional well-being.


However, it’s important to honor your body’s needs. You can still limit foods that cause inflammation, digestive issues, or a tendency to overeat! And these foods might by different for everyone. This isn’t about restriction but about making mindful choices that support your overall health.


To embrace food freedom, you should challenge your critical inner voices, make peace with all foods, honor your preferences, find balance between fitness/health and life, and practice mindful eating. By letting go of restrictive rules, you can achieve a more intuitive, balanced, and positive relationship with food.




Achieve your fitness goals now through personalized guidance from your online nutrition and fitness coach. Book a call now!



Yours,

Vanessa gaber signature






 

Sources Of Information:

  • Fuentes Artiles R, Staub K, Aldakak L, Eppenberger P, Rühli F, Bender N. Mindful eating and common diet programs lower body weight similarly: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2019 Nov;20(11):1619-1627. doi: 10.1111/obr.12918. Epub 2019 Aug 1. PMID: 31368631.

  • Grider HS, Douglas SM, Raynor HA. The Influence of Mindful Eating and/or Intuitive Eating Approaches on Dietary Intake: A Systematic Review. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2021 Apr;121(4):709-727.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2020.10.019. Epub 2020 Dec 3. PMID: 33279464.

  • Van Dyke N, Drinkwater EJ. Relationships between intuitive eating and health indicators: literature review. Public Health Nutr. 2014 Aug;17(8):1757-66. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013002139. Epub 2013 Aug 21. PMID: 23962472; PMCID: PMC10282369.

  • Cadena-Schlam L, López-Guimerà G. Intuitive eating: an emerging approach to eating behavior. Nutr Hosp. 2014 Oct 3;31(3):995-1002. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.31.3.7980. PMID: 25726186.

  • Warren JM, Smith N, Ashwell M. A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutr Res Rev. 2017 Dec;30(2):272-283. doi: 10.1017/S0954422417000154. Epub 2017 Jul 18. PMID: 28718396.

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