A Day in the Life of an Intuitive Eater
An R.D. shares her experience following this intuitive nutrition plan.
Intuitive eating is a normal eating pattern. It's an anti-diet approach that helps you tune into your body, break the cycle of chronic dieting and improve your relationship with food. Intuitive eaters choose foods based on hunger, fullness and enjoyment instead of long-held food rules, restrictions or other external factors. They trust their bodies to tell them when to eat, what to eat and exactly how much. It's a non-judgment approach that removes guilt and shame around eating.
We are all born intuitive eaters. Babies demand food, eat and then move onto the next activity until they are hungry again. If you've ever tried to give a toddler more food than they want, you're familiar with the temper-tantrum (and mess) that occurs next. As we grow older and become more aware about various food options, we tend to set rules and restrictions around food. We become members of the 'clean-plate club' and decide which foods are 'good' and which foods are 'bad.'
If that sounds overwhelming, you're not alone. While the principles of Intuitive Eating are meant to be well, intuitive, it can sometimes seem like another set of diet rules. The beauty of intuitive eating is that there is no right or wrong. To give you an idea of what a "normal" day of intuitive eating looks like, I've shared my meal diary below and how I use intuitive eating principles in deciding what to eat.
Breakfast: 9:30 a.m.
This may surprise you coming from a Registered Dietitian, but my breakfast usually happens a few hours after waking. My mornings are filled with a quick workout then getting my baby up, dressed, fed and ready for the day. I'm not naturally hungry upon waking and prefer to sit down to my breakfast once I arrive to the office, usually around 9AM. I always start with a cup of black coffee; I admit I look forward to that more than I do food!
My first meal of the day was 1/2 of a poppyseed bagel with avocado and tofu scramble along with a cup of strawberries. And more coffee!
Lunch: 1:30 p.m.
I'm thankful that I don't have a set lunch time during the day, so I'm free to take a break at the time that's best for my hunger levels. My breakfast kept me satisfied for a while, but I started noticing slight hunger pangs around 1PM. I brought a frozen chana masala meal for lunch and heated that up along with a few mandarin oranges that I found in the office break room.
Snack: 4:00 p.m.
After I picked up my son, I swung by the grocery store to grab items for dinner. While I wasn't hungry at this time, I knew I would be by the time we got home and unpacked groceries. So I grabbed a container of olives and feta from the Mediterranean bar at the store and an apple to eat in the car.
Dinner: 7:45 p.m.
Since it was such a nice day outside, I decided to head to the park with my son after I fed him dinner. My snack offset my hunger enough that I preferred the idea of a later dinner after I put him to bed. I bought salad ingredients for that evening, but decided that I wanted something heartier and warm instead. So, I heated up a bag of vegetable pot stickers while I prepared fried-rice to go along with. Honoring your cravings is a main tenant of intuitive eating; giving yourself the permission to eat what sounds good. When you eat what you really want, satisfaction and pleasure help you feel content and less likely to overeat in the process.