What am I talking about? Well, when your body has a strong desire to eat something. You know when someone asks you or you ask yourself what you’d like to eat. It’s the first thing that comes to mind. It is what your body is legitimately asking you for. Everyone has had that experience at least once, if not every day of their life.
It starts off when we’re kids. Mom or dad asks “What do you want to eat?” Our answer: Pizza. Chicken Nuggets. Spaghetti. Mac and Cheese. Ketchup. Or who knows, maybe your kid is super fancy now a days and asks you for kale 😉 .
Having that gut instinct of knowing what you want is not surprising. In fact, it’s normal. What is surprising is how little we listen to it. Now, there’s a lot of us out there that are intuitive eaters without even thinking about it. I would argue, though, that most of us are no longer intuitively eating. Why? Because we either hear what our body is asking for and choose to not listen OR we are just completely disconnected from what our body is telling us. We are eating based on what we know, what we hear, or what we think we should eat. This is completely different from when we were an infant or young child. As an infant we were born knowing [for the most part] when to eat, how much to eat, and when to stop. Remember those days? When food was just food and eating was just something we had to do in-between playing? Oh how times have changed, right?
Intuitive Eating and Food Cravings
So what is intuitive eating and how does that fit in with food cravings? Intuitive eating is defined as “a flexible style of eating in which you largely follow your internal sensations of hunger and satiety to gauge when to eat, what to eat, and when to stop eating”. [Side note: The term was created by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. If you have not read their book, do it. It’ll completely change your life.]
Intuitive eating is eating what your body tells you to eat. Sounds pretty simple right?
Are you doing it though?
Okay, so here’s the thing about cravings. We need to stop feeling bad or questioning why we are craving certain foods. Children and pregnant women should not be the only people who are “allowed” to have cravings. We never question a pregnant woman’s craving for something sweet or eating potatoes everyday or wanting pickles and ice-cream together, but we do question our own body’s ability to determine what it needs. Why is that? Why is it not seen as socially acceptable for everyone to be in tune with their own body’s needs? Just like that child or expecting mother, our body is also telling us what it needs. That signal is not reserved for brief specific, periods of our life. It is always there.
I’ll tell you this. I’m nowhere near a perfect intuitive eater. There is definitely no such thing. Intuitive eating is something you to choose to work on. It is a journey of re-learning your own body and coming back to your innate responses to hunger and fullness and different foods. What intuitive eating has given me is the ability to allow myself to eat what I want and not feel guilty about it nor have to analyze it nor explain it to myself nor anyone else. I just eat.
I initially thought that if I allowed myself to eat what I wanted, I would only eat chips, cakes, cookies, ice-cream, etc. When in reality, it has been very different. The truth is my body really does crave all foods. Some days its tacos and some days its salads. Some days it salty mixed nuts and some days its sweets. I can honestly tell you, its been pretty fun and freeing to not force nor restrict any food or food group. I trust that my body knows what it needs in each moment. It takes practice, patience, and trust. It is a process.
Also, something important to note about cravings is that they can and WILL be different on most days. Seriously, imagine how boring it would be if our cravings or desire of certain foods never changed …..or if we never allowed them to. I am also finding that the more I expose myself to new foods, the more diverse my cravings and wants are. It’s pretty fascinating.
There is a lot of freedom in eating what your body wants vs. eating what you don’t want and hoping it’ll satisfy your need for what you do want. Two very different things.
So ask yourself, what would your diet look like everyday if you allowed yourself to eat what you really wanted? What if you tried it for a week, or two? Wouldn’t it be nice to find out instead of being terrified by the idea of it for the rest of your life?
You might be pleasantly surprised.
I’d love to hear how it goes 🙂
From my belly to yours,
Happy Thursday !