Instinctual Eating: trusting your body


Instinctual eating is listening to and trusting the bodies biological need for food. There is so much information out there about what to eat to be healthy, to lose weight, to manage type 2 diabetes or to fuel for sports. It is hard to know which information to trust since the information from the research is contradictory and the professionals in the nutrition field can’t agree. So how do we know what to eat? How do we be healthy?

Influenced by others and advertisements we lose it, we lose our instinctual eating. We lose touch with our own bodies. Well maybe not lose, but it gets covered over, a new layer is added as we move further from our own center of awareness. We start to doubt or ignore our own inner voice. We start to eat based on the clock-breakfast at 7, lunch at noon, dinner at 6. We eat because we are bored, tired, stressed, emotional, etc.

How do we get back to our own instinctual eating? There are two signals of biological need for food, 1) hunger pangs in the stomach and 2) low blood sugar as indicated by poor focus or irratability, or even yawning. When we experience that, eating is the way to resolve that.

First is to look for the two signs before you eat. Do you feel the hunger or are you about to eat because it is time to eat? Are you feeling a little irritated or having a hard time focusing, yawning? Once you eat, the signs should go away. Trust yourself to know when to eat.

Second is trust yourself to know what to eat. This takes much attention and focus and quiet time. If you eat and shortly after have a headache, it could be a sign from the body that this food did not agree with the body. It may have tasted good, but the body didn’t like it. For example I have eaten chocolate-a nice dark chocolate- only to get a headache shortly after having eaten it. My friend who is gluten sensitive gets gastrointestinal discomfort after she eats bread.

Each of these examples shows a sign from the body that this particular food is not good for this particular body, or that the quantity doesn’t work. Get back to your own instincts by actively paying attention to the signals from the body both before and after eating as a starting point to determine what is best for you.

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