Although I like to have a plan and goal for just about everything in my life, when it comes to my diet and deciding when, what and how much to eat… I listen to my body, that’s it. Often referred to in the wellness world as intuitive eating or mindful eating, I’ve followed this philosophy for years and haven’t had to count a single calorie or macro, ever!
If you focus on enjoying tasty, nourishing foods and only eat when you’re hungry, I guarantee you’ll gain energy, feel more in control and effortlessly drop a few kilos, without too much thought or effort.
The key to intuitive eating
Listen to your body! I know this might sound strange, but I often take cues from my daughter Bella, and have learnt so much about intuitive eating just from watching her. She won’t eat if she’s not hungry and won’t drink if she’s not thirsty… it’s as simple as that. I can try and tempt her with loads of various snacks and she’ll just say no if she’s not in the mood to eat. It doesn’t matter how delicious the food looks, she’s just not interested if she’s not hungry. And when she’s super hungry or going through a growth spurt, she’ll eat double what she normally eats in a day, and then won’t each much the following day, or she might skip breakfast and have a heartier meal at lunch time.
I follow the same philosophy with my own eating pattern and if you think about it, this is a form of calorie restriction or fasting but without the ‘fancy diet’ label. Like Bella, I don’t eat when I’m not hungry, and when my body is telling me to eat – I do!
Ditch the diet rules
I never force myself to finish what’s on my plate or eat lunch just because it’s midday. And I don’t believe it’s critical to always eat breakfast at the same time every morning or have dinner if I’ve eaten a late lunch.
Even though I exercise regularly, I’ve never followed a rigid eating plan which calls for 5-6 meals a day with regular snacks in between. Because the truth is, we need to allow our body’s the space and time to let us know when to eat and when to give our digestive system’s a break.
I also don’t believe in restricting your body when it comes to food. Of course, I’m not suggesting we all overindulge on junk foods, or eat until we’re so full we can barely move, but what I am saying is that your body knows what it needs and it’s up to you to listen and react accordingly.
So, if for instance, you’re working hard, exercising a lot and you’re always on the go, your body might demand that you eat more than the standard three meals a day, so in this case, why not opt for a second helping of veggies or a healthy dessert such as my no-churn chocolate ice-cream after dinner? And if you’re more sedentary or have the chance to rest – you might not feel as hungry, so then why should you eat three meals a day? (even though the holiday buffets are always tempting!)
Here’s my tips on how to become an intuitive eater:
- First and foremost, listen to your body and be in tune with its cues.
- Hit pause. Before you reach for that bagel or fizzy drink, ask yourself if you’re really hungry or thirsty.
- Put down your fork between bites.This will force you to slow down and allow your body to digest what you’re eating.
- Focus on your food. Turn off the TV and your phone. Distractions can cause you to miss the signals your body sends when you’re full.
- Use all your senses. This goes hand in hand with eating slowly. Enjoy the sight, smell and taste of your food and chances are you’ll feel more satisfied and won’t need to overeat.
- Don’t be afraid to skip meals. Unless you have a pre-existing medical condition, skipping a meal now and then won’t do any harm. In fact, there’s mounting evidence that this is good for you.
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