Do you feel hungry at odd hours of the day or does nothing seem to satisfy your cravings? Learn how to listen to your body’s cues and start eating intuitively with these simple tips.
Analyze Your Eating Schedule
If you take a snapshot of your eating habits, it’s easier to spot mistakes, inconsistencies, and all the little details that make tuning into your intuitive hunger cues more difficult. Perhaps you wake up ravenous some days and skip breakfast altogether on others. Some days, you might need a snack every half hour, but on others, don’t even think about eating until you get home from work.
An inconsistent eating schedule confuses your body. If it doesn’t know when it’s time to eat, your hunger and satiety hormones aren’t released at the same time every day. Combine that with a stressful work project, traveling, or a new exercise routine, and it’s not surprising your body would start sending you mixed hunger signals.
Consistency is key in all areas if you want to improve your health, and your diet is no exception.
If you want to start eating intuitively, step one is to eat your meals at the same time each day for at least two weeks. Yes, this might be challenging, but it will teach your inner clock to produce certain hormones at the same time each day.
The human body is incredible, but it’s pretty simple in its complexity. It likes doing the same things and performing the same functions every day. Which brings us to step two.
Make Sleep a Priority
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do to maintain our health and longevity, but most of us don’t do it. Not enough (or too much) sleep can confuse our neural communications and disrupt our hunger and satiety hormone levels.
The same is true for waking up at a different time each day. How could your body know the right time for breakfast if you eat at 6 a.m. one day, but 8 a.m. the next?
However, if you stick to a sleep schedule, you’re already setting yourself up for success and allowing your systems to repair and refuel, so everything will run smoothly.
Don’t Go to Bed Hungry
Despite your best efforts, there will be days when your schedule deviates—especially during the holidays. You might have dinner really early or stay up later than usual.
This can awaken those hunger cues again, and it’s okay to shush them once in a while. You might want to skip eating an entire cheesecake while you binge-watch The Great British Baking Show, though.
It’s not a good idea to go to bed hungry. Not only can it impair your sleep quality, but it also makes you more likely to wake up in the middle of the night and raid the fridge. After all, why do you think there’s a light in there?
Make sure you eat enough food throughout the day, but also listen to your body if it’s asking for food at 10 p.m. Sometimes, we’re not even aware of how many calories we expend. If feeling hungry that late isn’t your MO, it might just mean your body needs more nutrients to perform its rest-and-digest repair mode while you sleep.
Check Your Food Quality
The nutrients in food are the building blocks for our entire body—they drive all of our cell functions. If you eat low-quality food, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, or fats. All of these are crucial, not only for your general health, but also for every function of your body, from eyesight and muscle performance, to blood sugar regulation and hormone production.
Your body needs certain nutrients to survive. If you eat high-quality, nutrient-dense foods, you’ll be more comfortable eating less.
Unfortunately, the food we consume today isn’t as nutrient-rich as it once was. As a result, we all need some form of supplementation.
However, if you fuel your body with high-quality foods, your nutrient supplies won’t deplete, and your body won’t go into panic mode.
Understand Your Cravings
When you have a food craving, your body is telling you it’s running low on certain nutrients. For example, a lack of magnesium can cause you to reach for the saltines, a lack of healthy fats might be why you can’t shake your sweet tooth, and a lack of protein might explain your cheese indulgence. If you learn how to tackle these deficiencies, you can battle your cravings and teach your body to ask for what it’s missing in a more intuitive way.
If you want to put an end to cravings, investigate why you have them.
Cravings can also be the result of poor sleep quality, not enough hydration, mood swings and anxiety. They also tend to occur during seasonal changes or boredom, or, for women, while they’re menstruating.
If you take some time to discover what’s causing your food cravings, it will bring you much closer to intuitive eating.
Eating intuitively just means eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. It should be simple, but the lines get blurred. If you start with these simple tips, and you’re patient with yourself, you’ll be eating more intuitively in no time!