An important part of intuitive eating is listening to your body, and feeding it what it tells you it needs. It might be that you’re lacking a certain micronutrient, could use some extra energy, or simply need a little emotional pick-me-up. Whatever it is, that’s ok, as long as your body truly demands it. For instance, your muscles might be crying for protein after an intense workout, or maybe you need the vitamins from a big green salad, or even a chocolate chip cookie to put a smile on your face. It’s important to follow these cravings and let your body tell you what it needs.
But as much as we may try to do this, it can be hard. Sometimes we’re too busy to sit down and consider what we really feel like eating. Or we’re tired and stressed, and can’t get our minds to stop thinking about quick sugar or junk food. There are so many options in the grocery store that it can be overwhelming to figure out what we should be feeding our bodies.
Here’s one trick that can be helpful in situations like this: try thinking about how eating a certain food will make you feel. Not what it tastes like, or how delicious it looks, but rather the physical impact that it will have on your body. How will your stomach digest it? How will your mind react? Will you be energized and alert? Satisfied and content? Lethargic or even over-stimulated? Take a few seconds and ask yourself this before deciding what to eat. Sure, sometimes we’ll still choose the chocolate cake simply because it tastes amazing, but try to let your body have some say in this decision.
For me, this trick is important because I want to feel satisfied, energized, light, and happy after each and every meal. When I take the time to pay attention, I realize the impact that the foods I eat have on my body, a few hours or even just a few minutes after the meal ends. An example is the dessert that’s often offered during lunch at work. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and usually want to try at least a sample of the day’s treat. But I’m pretty cooped up at my desk for most of the day, and I’ve started to realize that eating sugar around noon can easily make me feel even more stir crazy, or even give me a headache. I’d rather enjoy this treat when I get home in the evening because I’m more relaxed and have the time to really enjoy it. Focusing and listening to how my body feels at work helped me to come to this realization. Of course I still eat dessert at lunch some days, but I’m trying to take the time to consider how the treat might make me feel before diving straight in.