Ahhh, the Holidays. Full of excitement, busyness, family, friends and lots of food. For many, this time of year is fun, but for others it can be overwhelming with all of the food choices and diet recommendations bubbling around us.
It seems two popular camps have evolved when it comes to the Holidays: those who participate in the ‘last supper’ mentality (i.e. “I’m starting a diet in January and this is the last time I’ll ever eat cookies, so I might as well have seven!”) and those who refuse to partake in enjoying the food because they’re committed to their diet. For me, those options never truly allowed me to enjoy being present during the Holidays, so I set out to find a happy medium. Enter: intuitive eating.
Often boiled down to “eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full”, intuitive eating is a little more nuanced than that. It’s about eating foods you enjoy (yes, really!), listening to your hunger and fullness cues, and not labeling foods as good or bad. And yes, intuitive eaters do consider the healthfulness of the foods they eat — it’s just not the only thing they consider. To show you, I’ve documented a day in the life of my (intuitive) eating. Let’s begin!
Today I woke up at 6:30am after snoozing for about 20 mins (hey, Mondays are hard!) and drank some water. I usually give myself anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes to get ready in the morning. Since today was on the shorter side and I wasn’t very hungry yet, I opted to wait to eat breakfast until I was in the office — knowing that I’d enjoy having more time to eat and digest my food.
By the time I got into the office, I was ready to eat. I enjoyed two plain multigrain waffles and a cappuccino with milk and sugar. While I love waffles, they don’t pack as much protein as I need to stay full for more than an hour, so I typically pair them with 2 hard-boiled eggs or a banana with peanut butter. Today it was the latter.
11:00am: Pre-workout Snack
Lately, I haven’t been a morning snacker, but I knew I was going to use part of my lunch break to go for a run, so I opted to eat something small anyway. I had a strawberry yogurt with some berries and a package of fruit snacks.
It was a little too cold for my liking to run outside, so I walked over to the gym across the street and enjoyed a short run before quickly showering to get back to the office.
Fresh from my run, I was ready for lunch! I enjoyed leftover homemade fajitas from this weekend — two flour tortillas, grilled chicken and bell peppers, some shredded cheese and a few cherry tomatoes.
I grew hungry for a snack, so I opted for a pear from the office fridge and some animal crackers. With intuitive eating, I may initially consider if my appetite is from boredom but I’m not continually trying to ward off my hunger. I trust my body to tell me when it’s time to eat.
6:00pm: Pre-dinner snack
I was growing hungry but honestly did not feel like making dinner yet. I opted for some olives and cheese while I relaxed with an episode of Friday Night Lights.
My husband and I are on slightly different schedules — he gets home a few hours after I do, and I try to wait for him to eat when I can. Around 7:30, I could feel my hunger pangs and I didn’t want to wait until I was starving to begin making dinner. I know from past experience that waiting until I’m too hungry often leads to overeating when I finally get to it, so I began cooking. I sliced some sweet potatoes into wedges and roasted them with paprika and salt, sautéed asparagus and bell peppers in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and thawed some pre-cooked shrimp that was in the freezer.
Hopefully this snapshot demonstrates that there are no set rules when it comes to eating intuitively. I try to eat a wide range of macro and micronutrients at each meal, but I’m not counting calories. I listen to my body’s hunger signals, but I also try to account for what’s going on for the day and what’s going to make the most sense for my preferences, budget and schedule. Intuitive eating has brought joy back into my eating, and maybe it will do the same for you.