Intuitive Eating for a Summer Body
Are you feeling anxious about debuting a summer body or going out again post-pandemic? If you’re looking for tips on taking better care of your body this summer instead of your annual summer diet, intuitive eating is here for you.
This blog is about a lifestyle, because a summer body is an all-season body, and vice-versa. Your body helps you navigate the world through summer, fall, winter and spring. There are so many amazing things your body can do for you, and listening to your body to know what to eat is the best way to support yourself in doing all of the things you enjoy doing.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating has become a popular term in recent years, and the main takeaway is that we have an innate interoceptive awareness to know what our body needs. Intuitive Eating takes away the rules of dieting culture and puts the ownership of taking care of your body back into your own hands. In other words, eat what feels right for you, whenever you’re hungry. It’s a simple concept, but often hard to adopt into your life all at once. With intuitive eating, you truly honor your hunger and fullness cues. In order to understand these cues, you need to slow down and feel the sensations around getting hungry or full.
Being really present in your body to hear your hunger and fullness cues can also bring up other mental or emotional blocks to work through.
Here are some examples:
Maybe you realize that you’re full, but because you’ve had a stressful day or you’re feeling upset, you eat past the point of fullness and feel the need to unbutton your pants at the dinner table. While food may help you feel better in the short term, it won’t fix the emotions that led to overeating.
Or maybe you go through your days without eating enough to fully satisfy your hunger. When you do get a chance to sit down and eat, it feels like you can’t stop. In this case, maybe there are some boundaries you can set around your schedule that allow you to eat more regularly.
Intuitive eating is the practice of eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full.
Here are some tips to get started with intuitive eating for your summer body (and every season body):
1. Eat every 2-3 hours.
If you’re finding that you’re having a hard time distinguishing your hunger signals, don’t wait until you’re starving to eat! Plan ahead and carry snacks with you, so that you can consistently honor your hunger and fullness cues when you first notice them.
2. Let yourself have the Oreos.
There’s a phase in every intuitive eating journey where the only things you want to eat are the foods you once avoided. Oreos, cheesecake, burritos, cake, cookies, pasta, etc. Do it. Truly give yourself unconditional permission, and pay attention to how you feel before, during, and after. You will reach a point where you find that these foods have less of a magnetic pull on you. If you’re scared to “let yourself” go there, ask for support! Check out the resources below to learn more.
3. Find joyful movement.
Ask yourself what kinds of movements feel good for you. It’s not about punishing yourself or burning calories. It’s about getting the endorphins flowing and keeping your heart healthy, along with many other benefits. However you find joyful movement, keep going back to that activity. Whether it’s a walk around the block, cleaning the house, going on a bike ride with your best friend, or testing out a dance class in the park, find what works for you.
4. Focus on health outcomes, not weight.
When you’re healthier, you feel better. And research shows that developing healthy habits (eating good food and consistent exercise) improve health outcomes at every size, no matter what number the scale reads. Optional tip #5 – ditch the scale altogether.
Resources on Intuitive Eating & Body Image
Read about Intuitive Eating
Dr. Bacon breaks down scientific studies and gives you the facts to empower you on your intuitive eating journey. He also recommends various techniques for optimizing health, at every size.
Geneen Roth has written many books on intuitive eating, specifically on the emotional aspects of eating. Her books are full of personal stories and examples of how intuitive eating works in practice.
Dr. Naidoo offers tips on how to use different foods to address mental health conditions. She writes about using functional nutrition for everything from anxiety and depression to insomnia and PTSD. When you’re curious what to eat to optimize health, Dr. Naidoo’s book is a great place to start.
Talk about Intuitive Eating
Skip the Diet Culture Talk
Diet Culture has led us to believe that skinnier is better, and that dieting shows you are taking care of your health. However, these are not true. Intuitive Eating promotes Health At Every Size: if your body isn’t supposed to be skinny, then it isn’t better, and dieting leads to mental health issues. So when you are talking to your friends, talk about all body sizes (including your own) in a positive way. Steer the conversation away from discussing diets. I promise you will have a better time.
Depending on how you like to process, it can be incredibly helpful to have a neutral third party help you uncover why you’re struggling with body image. There’s no substitute for a healthcare professional who has the tools to guide you through intuitive eating and body image.
This year, it’s time to embrace your body through every season, not just summer. I have extensive experience working with individuals on improving body image and navigating every stage of intuitive eating. Contact me today to learn more about therapy for intuitive eating and body image.