Is it possible to eat intuitively for better health? A lot of diehard ‘clean eaters’ don’t really get intuitive eating, and quite honestly the reverse is just as true. One camp sits firmly in the belief that some foods are ‘good’ and some are ‘bad’. The other acknowledges that a lot of our perceptions of labels have an emotional basis and that we need to tune in to what we physically want, rather than emotionally crave .
It may sound like leaning in one direction, but in fact I’m here to argue that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, as in –
You CAN eat intuitively in a way that will promote good health and happiness – both now and in the future
Let me start off with a personal example.
I love sugar. When I crave sugary foods, I tune in and see if what I really want is something sweet. Sometimes it is – and that’s great! Most of the time I’m really thirsty, or so hungry that my brain is just crying out for glucose – this is its primary source of energy after all. If it’s the latter, I tune in further to see what my body really wants (and honestly, it’s not often anything sweet). Whatever the outcome, I know I’ve made an informed choice.
However, there is another side….
See, I love sugar, but sugar doesn’t love me back all that much.
Sugar wreaks havoc on my mind – causing anxiety and mood swings. It also severely affects me physically – I get inflamed skin, and fatigue so bad I often need a nap. For about TWO HOURS.
Other people notice the same with other food groups, e.g. gluten, a key culprit of physical and mental suffering, but struggle to cut out bread from their diet.
So what happens if what I truly desire isn’t very good for me, after all?
This is the crux of the matter. I don’t generally recommend anyone cut out entire food groups – especially not for the sake of weight loss. And I do encourage my clients learn to discern the difference between emotional and physical cravings so that they are able to eat what they really want. And they do – and so freaking well!
This is a sensitive subject for so many – myself included – because I don’t want ANYONE who has moved away from dieting and emotional eating to then move back to it based on this blog post! If what you’re eating isn’t causing you any physical or mental symptoms (and by all means explore this concept), you don’t need to worry.
For those who notice a theme of discomfort after eating a particular food, this is my advice to you:
Think about what will make you feel good tomorrow. Not just right now.
Again, using my sugar example – if I know I have a busy schedule ahead of me that day, or that I have to wake up early the following morning, maybe I will turn down that piece of cake. Maybe I’ll DIY my own chocolate (recipe here – it’s the best!) or have a fruity smoothie that won’t give me such a big energy crash. I am still tuning in to my cravings – but I’m also thinking about future me, not just what I want now.
Maybe you will find the same if you can’t tolerate gluten very well. Or alcohol.
I don’t see it as ‘eating intuitively clean’, or ‘clean intuitive eating’. Or any hybrid of the two camps. Clean eating gets a bad rep because, hell, who wants to feel guilt over our food choices? That said, if we continue to eat in a way that is good for us but do it in a kind, intuitive and informative way, where we feel like we’re satisfying our cravings, genuinely enjoying our food, and without jeopardising our future health/comfort … maybe the two camps can meet somewhere in the middle?
Interested in learning more?
I am a super passionate health coach and yoga teacher here in Scotland. I love working with people who are ready to free themselves from emotional overeating. Interested? Get in touch now to arrange a free breakthrough session!
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.