How Do You Eat Intuitively When Your Intuition Just Wants French Fries?
When you learn to listen to your body, it will lead you to exactly the foods, workouts, and life choices that are best for you in each moment. This isn’t something a diet will accomplish for you. You must go deeper and connect to your intuition, and specifically what I call your “intuitive food voice.”
You’ve heard about intuition, right? This magical thing that’s meant to guide us?
Well, your intuitive food voice is like that, but specifically for what you’re eating. It’s what your gut (all those bacteria in your physical gut and your intuitive gut instinct) are telling you to eat and what to avoid.
The best decisions for you are personalized and individualized, and can change over time. We’re fed so much information about diet and lifestyle trends that it’s easy to get confused and stuck under the layers of opinions out there, whether it’s what Vogue is recommending to eat, your best friend’s latest diet, or what your yoga instructor thinks about smoothies and juices.
You can learn the recipes, the tools, and the tricks, but this will never become part of you until you learn to listen to your own body, to connect to your own inner guru, your own intuitive voice.
This inner knowing is what takes the power away from the birthday cake, the third glass of wine, or whatever “hot-button food” you’re trying to not eat (you know those foods you can eat and eat and eat without stopping—hello, almond butter jar!). This is your internal compass that will steer you back to you. Check in, again and again and again.
Now you may think that your intuition is only going to crave pizza and cookies, and maybe it will at first, but the truth is that our bodies are designed to seek optimum health. Your body is on your side and wants you to feel good. When you give it a chance, it will tell you exactly what it needs. This is the more spiritual aspect of gut health that I teach in my books Go with Your Gut and Thin From Within and with my clients—it’s about reconnecting with your intuition and reconditioning yourself to trust it.
Here are some tips for how you can reconnect to your intuitive food voice.
Become friendly with (or at least interested in!) your cravings. All cravings are really just a kind of communication between your brain and your body. And if you know how to listen to them, you can learn how to answer them better. Cravings are an opportunity to tune into our bodies and hear what we really need.
There are four things I ask my clients to check themselves on when it comes to tuning in to intense cravings: water (are you thirsty?), emotions (check in with your feelings, not the fridge), self-sabotage (what happened today with your eating?) and habit (are you just on auto-pilot?).
For example, I used to get tripped up by dessert after dinner. It took a long time for me to realize that dessert was an emotional habit and a memory-based need for me, not a belly- or nutrient-based necessity. One of the ways my brother Paul and I bonded during our teenage years was going to get ice cream together (Carvel Vanilla Coke Floats, with extra vanilla syrup please!) after we had eaten dinner at home.
Once you learn to decode what your body is actually asking for, the emotional and habit-based cravings will naturally start to dial down (usually this is what’s driving the urge for pizza and cookies!).
Be present with your food.
You can’t expect to get clear messages from your gut if you’re distracted or multi-tasking. For example, if you’re checking your emails while eating, you won’t be able to tell if it was that harsh email from your boss or the spicy cauliflower wings that gave you heartburn after lunch. In my coaching practice, I developed my 123 Food Freedom Tool, and this three-step process to mindful eating was featured in my first book, Go with Your Gut. The 123 Food Freedom Tool will help you slow down at meal time, enjoy your food more, and say goodbye to annoying digestive issues like bloating and heartburn.
- Look. When was the last time you allowed your eyes to take in the experience of eating? Eating is a complete sensory experience, and if we don’t include one of our most vital senses—our sight—we are out of touch with the idea that we have eaten. Next time you’re about to consume something, take a moment to take it in with your eyes.
- Breathe. Before you have your first bite, take a deep belly breath or two. Taking a good, deep breath brings you into the present and into your body again—which is necessary because you’re about to use your body to eat!. Feel your belly expand and release and the gentle ahhh that comes with that simple action.
- Chew. Chewing is so, so important. The goal is to chew each mouthful completely (i.e., until it becomes liquid or close!) before swallowing. When you chew your food thoroughly, you stimulate your digestive juices to better process your meal. Plus you’ll naturally slow down and likely eat the amount that feels good for your unique body.
Be kind to yourself.
My biggest shift in body, weight, and mind happened when I focused on nourishing my gut and becoming truly thin from within. When my husband and I began talking about starting a family, I shifted my focus from “How skinny can I be?” to “How can I create the most ideal ‘home’ for my future baby to live in?” And then I had an a-ha moment: Our bodies are our homes—this is where we live. Shouldn’t we treat them right?
I let go of trying to look a certain way. I slowed down even more at meal times and chewed my food completely before swallowing. I began to focus on the foods that made me feel my best. And guess what? I began to crave the foods that made me feel (and eventually look) my best, not just pizza and cookies.
So no matter what your cravings have been telling you lately remember you can also take a moment to stop and breathe, chew and tell yourself that you’re doing the best you can. Because you are.
If you need more guidance for what a day of healthy meals looks like, try these recipes!
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Robyn Youkilis is an AADP Certified Health Coach, author, speaker, and leading expert in holistic digestive health. For nearly a decade, Robyn has helped clients shed both physical and emotional weight with her straightforward yet supportive coaching style, Your Healthiest You. She is the author of the best selling books, Go with Your Gut and Thin From Within - The Go with Your Gut Way to Lose Weight, and has been featured by The Cooking Channel, The View, The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal and more.
Robyn currently lives in New York City and Los Angeles with her husband and their daughter. She has been a member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) for nearly a decade and enjoys traveling, music festivals and eating dessert at fancy restaurants (one bite at a time, that is!).
Join the #YourHealthiestYou community at www.RobynYoukilis.com.