7 Things You Need to Know Before You Begin Eating Intuitively

If you’re someone who loves lists – “just tell me what to do” – then you’re going to love this post. Today I’m sharing the top 7 things that come to mind when I think: “what would be the first steps and tips that I would share with someone who was newly interested in intuitive eating?”

Paige Schmidt | Healthy Hits the Spot | 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Begin Eating Intuitively

No. 1 – Take your focus OFF weight

When we focus too much on weight loss or gain weight, we take the focus AWAY from how our bodies feel. Which, is super important when you’re eating intuitively – to get in touch with how you’re feeling moment by moment. You’re going to get VERY good at checking in with yourself.

Focus on *feeling good*  

Let me ask you this… If your goal is to lose weight, why? Why do you want to lose weight? I’ll bet that your answer, when you get down to the core of it, is simply that you want to feel good – for whatever reason that may be.

Want to lose weight so you can feel confident? That’s feeling good. Want to lose weight so you can start dating. I’ll bet that you think when you lose weight, you’ll *feel good* and therefore, will be able to put yourself out there more confidently.

No. 2 Choose confidence, don’t wait for it

When I was at my lowest weight, I had LESS confidence than I do today. Before I lost weight, I thought that being smaller would increase my confidence. What actually happened was that I lost weight, became harder on myself, and increased my all of my self-expectations.

I started staying in more, missing out on things that I thought might hinder my weight-loss goals, and became consumed by losing weight. Sure, smaller sizes fit better, but I wasn’t happier or more confident.

I’m not saying that this is everyones experience. But I AM saying that confidence, on some level, IS a choice. You can CHOOSE to feel confident right now. You can CHOOSE to walk outside, own yourself, exactly where you are, and embrace yourself RIGHT now.

Instead of waiting to feel good, start here. Start now. Recognize that what you want more than anything is to *feel good,* and give yourself that gift now. We’ll talk more about HOW to feel good in the rest of this post…

More reading on confidence: here.

No. 3 – Find out what foods you like (and dislike)

You may be surprised to find that when you begin eating intuitively (and SLOWING DOWN) you don’t like some of the foods you’re eating. For example, I learned that many of the foods I would BINGE on, I didn’t actually like. Things like handfuls of goldfish, M&M’s, and Cadbury mini eggs.

Have you ever tried one goldfish, or one M&M? NOT very flavorful or exciting. It takes a whole handful to even taste them! When I realized this, I thought to myself “why am I eating foods that aren’t even that good when I can have ANYTHING I want?”

I learned that instead, I could go to See’s Candy (example) when I really wanted something sweet, pick out a DELICIOUS treat, and sit down to TOTALLY savor it.

I began to UPGRADE my experiences and food choices.

Instead of a quick thrown together sandwich, I’d take the extra 2 minutes to cut up a few veggies and stick them inside for extra flavor, crunch, and color. It made the sandwich SO much better! To my eyes, tastebuds, all of it (and all of this matters).

Instead of eating huge amounts of super processed candy when I wanted something sweet, I’d go out for coffee and get a BEAUTIFUL pastry with a friend. The experience AND the food were soooo much better. And when you have experiences that are this rich, you need less of them.

Have you ever had crazy rich chocolate cake, or something like it?

You cannot sit and eat the whole thing very easily. Often, when we get the RICHEST food, we want less of it. This is because 1) when foods are rich, we naturally savor and appreciate them more and 2) we are so much more satisfied when our food is full of flavor.

No. 4 – Have FUN with food

We ARE meant to get pleasure from food. It’s just not meant to be our ONLY pleasure. I’ve never liked the mentality that food is just fuel. Food is so much more than just fuel. We use food to celebrate… food is cultural… food has more meaning than JUST to feed us.

At least that’s what I believe (and will continue to believe, because food as JUST fuel sounds boring).

When we accept this, finding pleasure in food feels better. We give ourselves more permission to enjoy our food. We can look forward to meals, get excited about cooking and something new, and be excited about going out to a new place with your girlfriend.

GET EXCITED girlfriend. Food is fun, it’s just not our ONLY fun.

And with this… another thing that will only help you is to increase your gratitude around food. 

You tell me ONE area in your life where you’ve increased your gratitude around something and it’s turned out WORSE. Doesn’t happen, does it? When you sit down to a meal, look at your food, notice it, and allow yourself to feel grateful for it.

(Our Finally Free 28-Day Pleasure Plan is a great starting place to increase pleasure around food)

No. 5 – Pay attention to your food

Just like I mentioned above as I talked about being more grateful for your food, when you eat, try your best to acknowledge your food. I promise you, it will only help you to feel MORE satisfied when you pay attention to what you’re eating.

Think about your five senses. 

When you eat, you’re not ONLY satisfying your hunger and taste. You have the opportunity to satisfy all of your senses: touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell. Think of each sense as a little “pocket” in your body just waiting to be filled up each day. THIS is satisfaction.

If you’re running around all day, not stopping to smell things or listen to sounds or actually TASTE your food, your going to feel some sort of lack. So, you may as well take the opportunity to fill your senses up MORE when you eat.

I recommend sitting down while you eat.  

Notice what you’re eating. Look at it, register it in your brain. Satiety IS SO IMPORTANT. When we’re unsatisfied, we’re always wanting more, looking for the next thing we can get our hands on. Right? Appreciate what you’re eating to feel more satisfied.

If you start to feel your fullness, don’t eat faster.

Often times people think “I want to be able to stop when I’m full and eat when I’m hungry” when they begin eating intuitively. And for good reasons – these are both awesome goals. However, they can also feel a bit scary for some people (yep, scary!).

Have you ever been eating something SO good that you just don’t want to stop?

Well, imagine eating that thing while working on intuitive eating, and registering that you might be getting full halfway through… What is that going to feel like if you think you HAVE TO stop eating this amazing food soon, and still see half left?

What’s sometimes happens is that you’ll start to intentionally (or unintentionally) eat faster because deep down, you don’t want that pleasure to stop. You love it. There’s NOTHING wrong with this.

SO what do you do?

When you notice the fullness starting to set in, give yourself permission to keep eating if that’s what you really want. It’s okay. No one is going to pull your plate away from you. You do not HAVE TO stop eating.

If you choose to stop eating, it will be because you’ve simply slowed down… you’ve leaned back in your chair, and you’ve given yourself enough time that you’re now feeling a detachment from your food – the pull to finish because it’s SO GOOD reduces.

You’ve calmed your thinking, and you’ve recognized “wait… I can have this food again literally anytime that I want it. Even if it’s just 15 minutes from now – it’s not going anywhere, I’m totally okay. I get to eat great food all of the time.”

Remember, we’re focusing on *feeling good.*

You’ll learn through experimenting that it doesn’t feel good to be TOTALLY stuffed all the time. It definitely feels good to be comfortably full when you’re craving that feeling (we talk a lot about this in session 7 of Finally Free) but it doesn’t feel good to ache from fullness.

No. 6 – Increase your primary foods

Next, let’s talk about increasing your primary foods. Primary foods are our non-food sources of nourishment. For example, your relationship can be something that either really nourishes you, or has you feeling a lack of nourishment.

When our primary foods are lacking, in this example in the case of our relationship, we are more likely to turn to secondary foods – the foods that we eat – to fill our needs or void our feelings. Sometimes we do this consciously, and sometimes we do this unconsciously.

However, I think we can all agree that increasing our fulfillment of primary foods can really help us to keep secondary foods as they should be, secondary.

Primary foods = non-food sources of nourishment 

Secondary foods = the foods we eat

To increase your primary foods, I would encourage you to make a list of 10 non-food things in your life that fill you (if you want to really challenge yourself, leave your list in the comments of this post). I will create my own list to give you an example:

  1. Spending an evening with my husband cozied up on the couch watching a movie
  2. Getting creative in the kitchen and making something new and fun for dinner
  3. Turning on music and dancing and being silly around the house (or jumping on the bed like a little kid – hey! Why not?)
  4. Taking an extra 10 or 15 minutes getting ready in the morning so that I feel extra good for the rest of the day
  5. Taking a walk outside on a random sunny and warm day
  6. Spending quality time with my girlfriends and feeling really connected to my community (for example, going on a hike or to a local coffee shop)
  7. Spending time on a passion project like Finally Free (when we first were creating this program, the hours spent on it filled me up SO much)
  8. Organizing things in my home; I always feel refreshed after I’ve accomplished organizing something (that fresh start feeling)
  9. Gifting myself a slow Saturday morning where I stay in my PJ’s, drink coffee, and work on something that inspires me like creating a new/fresh vision board
  10. Taking time to sit down and journal through things in my life that are currently going well and I feel grateful for

All of these things help me to increase my primary food tank. If this topic of primary foods interests you and you would like to read even more free content about it, I recommend this post.

No. 7 – Set yourself up for success

The last thing I would recommend is to get in the habit of setting yourself up for success. This is one of the nicest things that you can do for yourself when you are trying to accomplish a new goal, like being someone who eats intuitively and listens to their body.

If you would like to eat intuitively, this means that you will need to have foods around the house that you really enjoy and that you will be willing to make for yourself when the time comes. So stock your cupboards with things that you love and make you feel good.

(I have a short free video series where I talk about meal planning – having the things you like on hand – while eating intuitively if you would like even more free resources on this topic – sign-up for the video to be emailed to you here.)

Through your intuitive eating journey, if you would like to start sitting at the table for your meals so you can pay more attention to them, do yourself a favor and make your table a pleasurable place to sit. Clear your table of any clutter, bills, or anything that doesn’t feel good.

If a goal is to stop weighing yourself, then hide your scale or get rid of it. If it’s sitting in front of you each day, you’re going to keep seeing it, and it’ll be easier to stay IN the habit weighing yourself (the exact habit you’re trying to ditch). Set yourself up for success – put it out of sight.

This is one small thing that will make your goal instantly easier to achieve.

Why not do that for yourself? This is the entire point of setting yourself up for success. You’re trying to make it easier on your future self to achieve the goals that you know will be best for you in the long run.

I hope this post was incredibly helpful and helps you to feel supported. If you’re looking for more support on intuitive eating, you might consider joining mine and Simi’s program Finally Free, or our 28-Day Jumpstart Pleasure Plan (see both programs here).

I also have a few spaces open in my one-on-one six month coaching program to work with me privately, if that’s more your style. You can get information emailed to you right away about working with me by entering your first name and email here. I’ll get back to you immediately.

The last way I’ll encourage you it is to tell you to make sure that you are signed up for my VIP Q+A emails. The next one comes out tomorrow.

This week I will be answering this question: “I started to renew my relationship with food a few weeks ago, after depriving myself for about a year. I am having thoughts about food almost all the time – especially when I don’t have something keeping me busy. Is this a bad thing?”

To sign up for these free emails simply enter your first name & email anywhere on my website (you’ll also get my free guide to eating intuitively for a day). 

Again, thank you so much for being here and I hope you’re totally encouraged today by this blog post!

Love, Paige

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  • Sarah

    Thank you for clarifying that food is a source of pleasure, but not the ONLY source. That is an important distinction.

    • I think it’s an important distinction too! Glad you found that helpful Sarah 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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