When we were babies and children, our relationship with food came naturally and effortlessly.
By “relationship” I simply mean how we relate to or understand food. And yes, it is possible to have relationships — healthy or unhealthy — with inanimate things like food and money.
As children, our relationship with food did not involve judgement, morality, guilt, shame, neurosis, counting, or calculation.
Our relationship with food felt free, uncomplicated, and intuitive.
When did we forget how to eat using our intuition? By intuitive eating, I mean eating by listening to your body and tuning in to what it needs.
When we become adults, we move away from eating with the structure, rhythm, and consistency we knew as kids.
Unlike when we were children, our schedules and lives changed in a way that impacts our relationship with food. For example, we have to autonomously figure out when and what to eat. Often times this leaves us with too many options, we suffer from decision fatigue, and end up putting our nutritional needs on the back-burner. It makes us experience a less healthy relationship with food than we once knew.
We go from not having to think much about food as kids (beyond what was put in front of us for immediate consumption), to, as adults, underthinking or overthinking food.
Here are 5 principles of intuitive eating most of us unintentionally unlearned in adulthood. There is every opportunity to relearn these positive, empowering principles that will improve your relationship with food:
1) Eat for nourishment
Food is meant to fuel your body and give you energy. Sometimes we forget this and use food as a means for things other than nourishment, like numbing emotions such as stress or boredom.
2) Give yourself unconditional permission to eat
Free yourself from rules, restrictions, and limitations when it comes to eating. On principle, you shouldn’t deprive yourself. Deprivation backfires anyway. Giving yourself options to make choices is much more empowering than living by rules. You should not need to allow or disallow yourself to eat.
3) Honour your hunger and fullness
Your body’s ability to signal to you the sensations of hunger and fullness are there for a very important function. Listen to them. Learn to discern between emotional hunger and biological hunger, and respond appropriately. For optimal energy, listen to your body and eat until you’re 80% full.
4) Eat mindfully
As children, we used to eat with way less distraction and stress. We honoured food enough to slow down to enjoy a meal or snack without feeling the need to be doing anything else other than savouring the food. Savour your food. Chew slower. Your body digests food more effectively when you slow down to eat.
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