Starting your intuitive eating journey can be incredibly daunting - I get it! The idea of letting go of dieting paired with the fear of gaining weight can be enough to keep anyone in that dieting (restricting) and binging (overeating) pattern. For most of us, this restrict-binge cycle leads to an unhealthy relationship with food and also promotes weight gain!
1. JOURNALING your food and mood. This is such a key element for your intuitive eating journey. Writing about your feelings, food choices and environment can help you to identify triggers that are causing you to eat more than your body needs. You can get a free food and mood journal on the Gut Instinct Community FB group.
2. MINDFUL EATING - Mindful eating is essentially being present and focused on what you are doing. If you are distracted how will you know how that food is making you feel? It will be harder to recognise those hunger and fullness cues too.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA - Social media can be both helpful and not so helpful when we are trying to listen to our internal cues around food. External stimuli and all of those slimming foodie accounts on Instagram probably aren't going to do you any favours whilst you are learning about yourself. They are still on the diet, restrict, binge, guilt, and shame train, whereas you are investing in yourself and learning to trust yourself around food again. Only follow accounts that spark joy and make you feel good on the inside. If those glammed-up bikini bodies are making you feel bad - unfollow them. Replace them with other people on their intuitive eating journey, or follow inspiring body-positive role models such as @bodyposipanda. You can always set yourself a time limit each day for social media if you feel you are spending too much time there.
4. KEEP A STOCK OF THE FOODS YOU ARE WORKING ON - (As I type this, we are currently in the middle of a global pandemic so I do not recommend stockpiling). However, keeping a supply of foods that are on your "bad/scary foods" list to hand can be helpful, this also removes the 'lack' and 'last supper' mentality and helps you to build trust with yourself around those foods. You can also keep ready-made snacks to hand but remember to link back to your food and mood journal to determine the real reason that you are reaching for that food.
5. YOU TIME - Set aside time each week or every couple of days to relax, pamper, reflect and set non-weight or body-related goals. This could be as simple as I will read for 20 minutes every Wednesday evening at 8 pm, or I will do a face-mask and paint my nails every Thursday evening whilst watching [insert favourite show here]. The point is to do things that make you feel good, which are not centered around food, your body, or exercise.
BONUS (and side note): If you have been dieting for what seems like your whole life, it might be very difficult to recognise those hunger and fullness signals. In that case, one habit to try could be to have a meal or snack every few hours and keep your food and mood journal - over time you will begin to recognise how being hungry feels and how being full feels with practice.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you.