So you mean eating doughnuts every day and half of a jar of peanut butter before bed?
It’s completely different to that. It is a practise that you’ll need to rediscover. Because we all used to be intuitive eaters.
My favourite example are little kids who haven’t been damaged by the society’s diet culture and preconceptions.
You ask a kid to come and have dinner and he’ll simply tell you that he’s not hungry yet.
Kids will leave two pieces of fruit on their plate and tell you that they’ve had enough.
That’s your natural intuitive eater who simply listens to his hunger and cravings.
I want to give you some guidelines that helped me when I was transitioning into intuitive eating.
Remember, this is a very wide topic that cannot be possibly covered in a blog post, so I’ll try to keep it somewhat concise, but if you have any questions, please shoot me a message.
Also, I want to mention that I found this book ‘Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch very very helpful at the start of this process. Definitely worth getting if you’re interested in trying intuitive eating.
Tune in with your hunger
I think when you are counting for a very long time, you kind of become disconnected from your hunger.
You probably wouldn’t consciously eat more or less than what your macros should be like.
You believe those numbers more than your body.
Sounds harsh but it’s true.
So the first step is getting used to listening to your hunger levels.
Like actually stopping for a minute and thinking about it.
Because hunger manifests itself in many ways.
The feeling in your stomach, the dizziness or your mood.
At the start, it might be useful to rate your hunger levels on a scale from 1 to 10.
Just in order to get into the practise of reading those signs.
But remember, that you should never wait until you’re at that level 9 or 10.
Because that’s when you make the worst food choices.
Listen to your cravings
Very connected to your hunger are your cravings.
And I don’t just mean the sweet cravings.
But when you’re hungry, ask yourself.
Do I want something sweet, savoury, crunchy, gooey, hot and comforting or light and fresh.
If it helps, even imagine yourself eating it.
Do you feel like crunchy lettuce leaves in a salad or warm spicy curry with rice?
Reject the diet mentality
This makes me so frustrated.
People don’t see food as food anymore but they agree with the labels that diet industry has been giving them.
Ice cream is fattening, doughnuts are full of sugar, salad is healthy and pizza is naughty.
As a result, eating cookies makes us feel guilty, choosing plain salad instead of a pizza because it’s healthy makes us feel sad.
Try to remove these labels from foods and practise seeing food as food and nothing else.
No emotional baggage.
Pay attention how food makes you feel
Right, so there is a reason you still wouldn’t eat ice cream all day even if you’re eating intuitively.
Because you know you would feel like shit.
Remember that you still want to nourish your body with vegetables and real food but also want to nourish your soul with a dessert.
You know that sweet bowl of oats is all you need in the morning to feel full and satisfied.
You know that after a workout you need a protein source with bowl of rice or a sweet potato.
You know that if you’re running low on energy, you’ll feel great if you eat a banana, not so great if you eat chocolate cake.
But everyone is different, that’s why you need to pay attention how your body feels.
If eggs don’t really satisfy your cravings in the morning, then don’t eat them.
Give yourself an unconditional permission to eat whatever you want
Okay, this is really important one.
Remove any forbidden foods from the list, if you still have any.
Don’t give yourself any conditions, as if I do an extra gym session, I can eat a dessert.
And remember that you can eat whatever you want any time you want.
Not only for the limited time that you set yourself, as are cheat meals or untracked days.
Because when you know that these foods are available only for a limited amount of time, we tend to go crazy.
If you’re having an untracked day, or a cheat meal or a refeed, whatever you call them, you might eat a dessert even if you don’t actually want it, just because you want to seize this unique opportunity.
When you give yourself an UNCONDITIONAL permission to eat whatever you want, yeah, maybe for a first few days, you’ll be super excited and overdo it a little bit.
But then, you’ll soon find that the forbidden fruit psychology will start working and you’ll realise that because you can have cookies, doughnuts, cake and pizza whenever you want, it stops being so special, and you’ll get it only when you’re actually craving it.
Don’t be afraid to eat more or less than usual
When you have certain macros for a longer period of time, you probably have some portions that you tend to keep the same.
Certain grams of oats or meat that you know usually fuel you well.
I mean that’s excellent but try to use intuitive eating to stop for a second and recognise what’s your actual hunger level.
If you’re really hungry or had a big gym session, don’t be afraid to add some more.
Always aim to get satisfied with your main meals.
Reflect on how you feel and fuel your body appropriately.
I know it might sound silly but how many of you agreed with those My FitnessPal Confessions ?
And soon you’ll find out that because you’re more satisfied after your meals, your tendency to snack after is so much smaller.
Put weightloss on a back-burner
I know, I know, this is probably going to be the toughest one.
Because if you’ve been tracking or dieting for a long time, it’s always with a weighloss goal in mind.
I bet that most of you would start freaking out if you stop tracking because you would be scared that you might get fat straight away because it’s not in your control anymore.
I know that because that used to be me in the past too.
No comforting numbers to tell you that you’re on the right track? Just your body you need to trust?
But you need to realise that working on your relationship with food is more important at the moment.
And you need to learn how to just trust your body instead of trusting macros.
And I promise that after some time, you’ll learn how to lose fat even without macros.
I mean, I understand, I was a little bit scared to stop counting too.
But here I am, almost 3 months later, didn’t gain fat, still looking pretty fly and feeling so much more free.
So trust your body and give it a go!
Eat intuitively with nutrition in mind
I know, some people will agrue that you’ll never eat intuitively if you’ve been counting macros for years because you have those numbers engraved in your mind and you’ll forever see the approximate carb, fat and protein ratio when looking at food.
I mean, yeah, cool, that’s true.
But rather than anything, I think it gives you an advantage of having this knowledge about nutrition and you already know how to fuel your body.
I think it’s just putting you in better position and should make it easier to transition.
Because you know these things already.
You know that one cookie doesn’t actually make a huge impact.
But a large pizza and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s does.
Hope these guidelines were helpful.
And if you have decided to give intuitive eating a go thanks to these “How I Stopped Counting Macros” series, please, shoot me a message, ask a question, ask for help, ask for my advice.
I’d love to hear your story.
All the love,
Shameless Instagram plug: @sunshine__susan