Recently, I had someone write in to ask me how I define “intuitive.” I loved this question, and couldn’t wait to write about it.
Typically, when you think about “intuitive” eating, you think of things like:
- Eating whatever you want
- No dieting
- No rules around food
- Freedom with food
- Eating donuts for breakfast
- Not doing movement unless it’s joyful
- Listening to internal hunger cues
There is a bit of all of this in how I define intuitive, but with a spin…
To me, being intuitive means listening to that part of you that wants the very best for you; she knows what is possible, what would feel good.
That part of you that wants you to experience special and meaningful things; that wants to feel abundant, but not overindulgent.
That part of you who wants to have a bite of that rich chocolate cake at your friend’s birthday, but not devour a cake by yourself, standing over the kitchen sink.
So yes, intuitive eating is about allowing yourself permission, eating a donut if you want one, and listening to your internal hunger cues.
But- it’s also about deciphering between what your BRAIN wants and what your BODY wants.
Your brain tends to want what it’s had before. What it’s used to. What it’s comfortable with. Your body tends to want what would make her feel the best. The good news is you can have a bit of both.
For example: instead of being black and white and having ALL of the ice cream or NONE of it, you can practice finding an amount of ice cream that you can slowly enjoy, and yet still leaves your physical body feeling well.
Instead of being black and white with running and doing ALL of the miles or NONE of them, you can simply gauge to follow what your body needs each day. Set out to do your run and listen to your body as you go.
So how can you listen to that part of you more often?
Pay attention throughout the day to what lights you up and inspire you. That’s your intuition lighting up!
Then follow your intuition by trying to create the experiences that inspires you (for example: I am inspired when I watch Giada cook Italian food with loads of olive oil and garlic… so I can recreate that experience for myself at home).
Follow those desires and see where they take you.
When following your intuition, your mind might try to talk you out of something.
For example, you want to have an omelet for breakfast and you’d like to add a little bit of cheese to the top. It sounds like it would flavor the food well, you’re excited about it, and it feels natural. Then your brain pops in and says “hey, dairy isn’t good for you!”
In that scenario… add a little bit of cheese, slowly savor your omelet, and about 20 minutes after you’ve eaten, ask yourself how you feel. If you feel good, then great. A little bit of dairy is fine for you.
If you don’t feel well, or you find yourself feeling sick or bloated afterwards, then that’s okay too. Now you’ve made an observation from your own experience versus an external rule.
Some rules are good. Like- following the speed limit and not breaking the law or stealing- but when it comes to food, there’s more room for exploring and finding what works for YOU. Everybody is different.
Finally, I want to encourage you to lead your brain with your intuition.
Here’s what I mean… think of a workout that you know leaves you feeling great. When you wake up in the morning your BRAIN is likely saying “Nooooo, stay in bed. It’s dark. It’s cozy. Whooo in the world would want to workout right now?” while your intuition is saying “You know how good this will feel to move around, get out any nervous energy, and go into your day feeling calm. Do it.”
You want to listen to your intuition MORE. Why? Because if you’ve ever done that exact scenario before… you know that your brain will follow. After your workout you’ll be thinking “Ah, I’m so glad I did that!” (Unless it was really your intuition saying you needed extra rest – but that’s a post for another time).
Each time that you lead with your intuition you are reinforcing to your brain that THIS (whatever it is you’re working on doing) is a good thing. The more opportunities your brain has to experience that “Ah, yes, this was a good choice!” feeling, the less your brain will resist doing that thing over time.
So, if there’s something you want to start and you know deep down in your gut that doing that thing would feel SO good, just start! Show your brain that it’s okay. That it’s good. That this is what you want. That you enjoy it.
I hope this post was helpful and that you enjoyed it! If you have any questions, please post them in the comments.
Also, you should know that we dive much deeper into this inside of The Growth Vault (a monthly all-access-pass to everything that’s inside paigeschmidt.com – courses, audio training, worksheets, all to be enjoyed at your own pace + monthly coaching calls!) in weekly audio lessons that you can download to your phone, and listen to as you drive/walk. Join us here.