Have you heard of intuitive eating? Hailed as a “revolutionary anti-diet,” intuitive eating is the practice of learning to listen to your body to decide what, when and how much to eat.
This idea may be appealing to people who have struggled to stay on restrictive or temporary diets. What could be simpler and more freeing than tuning into your body’s need for healthy food?
Before you try any kind of intuitive eating approach, it’s important to address the reasons why you eat — particularly any emotional triggers you may have around eating.
Emotions influence how we eat in complex and subtle ways, research has found. Emotional eating is also linked with obesity. Many people use food to reduce their underlying experience of feelings such as anger, sadness, or loneliness.
Why is it important to address the underlying reasons why we eat before trying intuitive eating? Human society has programmed people to eat for a huge variety of non-nutritive reasons. We eat for fun. We eat to socialize. We eat because the TV is on. We eat because the clock says it’s time. And for a lot of us, we eat to subconsciously — or even consciously — to medicate our emotions.
First Things First: Overcome Emotional Eating
If you’re a frequent or habitual emotional eater, those tendencies will make it difficult to master intuitive eating. You can assess whether you have any tendency to eat emotionally, and take steps to address those tendencies. Here are some suggestions:
1. “This Too Shall Pass.” If you can resist the urge to eat for even 15 minutes, the feelings that are driving you to crave something might subside. At that point, you can decide if you’re physically hungry or eating for some other reason.
2. Keep a Food Diary. Keep a special notebook to write down what you eat, how much, and how you’re feeling while you’re eating. Note how hungry your body is. This can help you identify triggers and create an awareness of why you’re eating.
3. Create New Habits. Instead of going for the chips when a family member yells at you or just because you’re bored, try doing something else that actually makes you feel better. Go for a walk. Read a book. Write in your journal. Any of these activities can help make you feel better without the inevitable guilt that comes from emotion-driven eating.
4. Manage Stress. Stress is a common driver of emotional eating, but there are many more productive ways to handle it. Try some yoga, deep breathing exercises, or meditation. Keeping your stress level manageable can help you avoid emotional eating.
6. Don’t Punish Yourself. It may be tempting to punish yourself with deprivation when you’ve eaten emotionally. But that usually backfires into a cycle of emotional eating. Instead of depriving yourself or dieting, eat foods that offer real satisfaction and nutrition. Your body may respond with a happier outlook that helps you eat more intuitively.
7. Release Trapped Emotions. Trapped Emotions are unresolved feelings from troubling and traumatic events that could cause you to eat when you don’t really need to. Until these negative energies are released, you might find yourself in a perpetual cycle of emotional eating. Try using The Emotion Code® to identify and release these emotions. This might be your best defense against emotional eating.
Part of The Emotion Code involves using muscle testing to get in touch with your subconscious. Once you have cleared away emotional baggage that may be triggering unhealthy eating habits, you can use muscle testing to help discover what your body is actually asking you to eat. Perhaps you feel like eating a piece of cake when your body is actually craves the sweetness of a peach or banana. Asking the subconscious can help you find the answer.
Mastering your emotions can clear a major barrier to learning how to eat intuitively. Then you can build healthy new habits so your body can get what it really needs when it really needs it.