Why do you eat your meals and snacks? Are you hungry for each one? How do you feel afterwards — still hungry, satisfied, or stuffed?
These are some of the questions we begin to ask ourselves as we tune into our body’s messages with “intuitive eating”.
According to The Original Intuitive Eating Pros, intuitive eating is a self-care eating framework which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought. Simply put, we work to listen to and trust our hunger and fullness cues in order to nourish our bodies and work towards our health goals!
At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we love supporting clients as they become aware of what and how much they eat on a daily basis through logging or tracking their food. But after we lay that foundation of nutrition, we begin to think about why we’re eating and how we feel when we do so! By doing this, some people find that they are eating just to meet macro goals or because that afternoon snack has become a habit, not a physical necessity.
What can we do?
Try using the Intuitive Eating Hunger Scale! It is a tool that can help you tune back into your natural hunger, fullness and satisfaction cues. Here’s how you do it — before each time you eat a meal or snack:
- Ask yourself, “Am I hungry? What is my hunger level?”
- Rank your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Aim to eat when your hunger level is a 3 or 4. If you find that you’re at a 1 or 2, what can you shift so that you’re not SO hungry by meal- or snack-time? If you’re at a 5 or 6, for what reasons besides hunger are you eating?
Then, during meals, pause and ask yourself, “How do I feel? What is my fullness level? How quickly am I eating?” Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your mind to catch up to your stomach’s fullness cues. So take your time eating and be mindful while you do so!
Lastly, as you finish eating your meal or snack, check in on how full you are.
- Ask yourself, “How full am I?”
- Rank your hunger/fullness scale again
- Aim to end a meal or snack around level 7, where you feel full and satisfied — not uncomfortably full, and also not still hungry.
As you go through these steps, you may learn more about whether your timing, amount, and content of meals and snacks are supporting your best energy and wellness.
For many of our clients, eating intuitively is freeing and helps build their confidence in making the best decisions for themselves!
Amanda Haar, RD, LD/N