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Mindful Eating and How to Be An Intuitive Eater

By: Nicolette Durkin, MS, RD, LDN

Have you ever sat down to eat a meal while simultaneously scrolling through your phone? And before you know it your plate is empty and you may not feel satisfied? If so, mindful eating may be for you. 

Mindful eating is a simple approach that encourages awareness of emotions, physical hunger cues, and environment around meals. Mindful eating doesn’t define what you should be eating but instead encourages you to be present and intentional during the experience. Mindfulness may include sitting down to eat in a chair at a table with your food on a plate. This may seem simple, but think of how many meals you’ve eaten in the car or at your desk while answering emails. Actually looking at your food before you take a bite, chewing more slowly, and savoring each flavor without distractions from the TV or phone are all actions you can take to eat more mindfully.

Mindful Eating vs Intuitive Eating
 

Mindful Eating vs Intuitive Eating

Mindful eating overlaps with the principles of intuitive eating. While mindfulness is a philosophy for being intentional with meals, intuitive eating is more prescriptive by laying out 10 principles to improve your relationship with food. Examples of these principles include rejecting diet mentality, listening to hunger cues, paying attention to your emotions around food, and not labeling any food as “bad” or “good”. 

Putting Principles Into Action

Listening to hunger cues is a very impactful principle of intuitive eating. A good exercise to tune into your hunger is to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 before you begin a meal (1 = uncomfortably full and 10 = ravenously hungry). You should aim to be around an 8 or 9 when you start eating and stop eating around a 2 to 3. This is also a good strategy before you grab a snack between meals. If your hunger is only rated at a 6, maybe consider waiting until your next meal to eat instead. 

If there are times that you feel like you may need a little snack or you feel like you are at a 7 it is a perfect time to grab something that you can enjoy and that can satisfy your need for nutrition, like a Soylent nutrition shake.  These shakes are designed to taste delicious while also delivering the perfect balance of micro and macro nutrients, while tasting great.

intuitive eating involves recognizing your emotions around food
 

Another principle of intuitive eating involves recognizing your emotions around food. Oftentimes we eat in response to boredom, stress, loneliness, or even anger. Intuitive eating encourages us to stop before eating and reflect on emotions at that moment. If you’re physically hungry then it’s appropriate to eat. If you find that you happen to be bored at that point in time, consider occupying yourself with a task outside of the kitchen.

Intuitive eating discourages labeling a food like salad as “good” and a piece of cake as “bad”. Food is meant to nourish us but also to be enjoyed. When we slow down to recognize the satisfaction that a piece of cake may bring us, we can let go of feelings of guilt or shame that we sometimes harbor around these indulgent foods. 

Just because a food is higher in calories doesn’t mean it should be avoided.  Instead you can understand that it fuels your body and provides you critical fat to keep you satisfied.  Soylent Nutrition shakes are a great example, as they have 400 calories, but are complete, with nutrients and healthy fats!

Intuitive and Mindful Eating vs Dieting
 

Intuitive and Mindful Eating vs Dieting

The goal of dieting is to lose weight. This is not the intent of mindful and intuitive eating, but it may very well be a result. Three key differences between them include:

  1. Calorie Restriction – Most diets encourage counting calories in order to lose weight. Mindful and intuitive eating actually advise against calorie counting and instead focus on hunger and fullness cues to control portions. 
  2. Food restrictions – Some diets exclude certain food groups like dairy and grains or will cut out added sugars entirely in the pursuit of weight loss. No foods are off limits when it comes to mindful or intuitive eating. This can be helpful to those who give up on diets after eating the “wrong” meal. Having freedom from food restrictions is empowering for many people who struggle to keep a healthy relationship with food.
  3. Physical Wellness – People often start dieting with the intent to reach a goal weight. Intuitive and mindful eating instead promote acceptance of body size and shape regardless of the number on the scale. Feeling physically and mentally well is more important than the number on the scale.
How To Start Eating Intuitively
 

How To Start Eating Intuitively 

Intuitive eating doesn’t require a detailed plan to get started. A few easy steps you can take include:

  1. Rating your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 before eating
  2. Getting rid of screens at mealtimes and focusing on your plate
  3. Eating at a table off of a plate while sitting in a chair
  4. Chewing your food 10 times more than you normally would
  5. Putting down your fork halfway through eating to assess hunger 

Is Intuitive Eating Right for you?

If you find yourself always multitasking at mealtimes, eating out of boredom, or have struggled with maintaining weight loss in the past, then mindful and intuitive eating may be for you. Being intentional with food choices can help you make permanent lifestyle changes to support a healthy diet. 

Life is about Balance
 

Life is about Balance

We understand in real life and on real days there may be times that you have to have a quick meal, but in those times it is best to prioritize getting the right nutrients.  No need to restrict calories or skip meals when you are busy, instead plan ahead and have Soylent nutrition shakes on hand to make sure that you can enjoy the time you are eating, even when you are very busy!


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