Have you hear of intuitive eater? Intuitive eating sounds good…but what is it exactly and how do you actually do it? Get the scoop on listening (and trusting) your body. BODY Have you ever had a “gut feeling” about something but you couldn’t explain why?Our body is constantly speaking to us throughout our lives—some examples include: Physiological needs (a “gut feeling” for your hunger and fullness cues) Big decisions (a “gut feeling” to choose wedges over heels) Our stress response (a “gut feeling” walking down a dark ally) Social connections (a “gut feeling” about your middle school crush) Our actions (a “gut feeling” to quit our job) This is called “intuition.” Intuition 101: What is It? Intuition is the ability to know something without analytic reasoning—bridging the gap between the conscious and non-conscious parts of our mind. When it comes to food, intuition or “intuitive eating” is the ability to listen to your body and know what it needs—without judgment, doubt or guilt. You Were Born to Be Intuitive Beyond intellectual planning, ego and overthinking, we all have a natural born “intuition” in our body (and brain)—also known as “the wisdom in our body”—that holds profound influence over our decision-making process. Our bodies and our “gut” (feelings) often know what’s going on and what they need long before we become fully conscious of it. Intuition is something most of us were really great at listening to as kids. Unfortunately, we grow up, and somewhere along the way many of us adults stop tuning in or listening to it. Kids have a superpower ability to simply listen to their intuition and “go with their gut”—especially in the area of self-care. Kids eat when they are hungry. Stop when they are full. They view food as fuel—like gasoline in a car that keeps their body going when they get cues to “feed me.” They don’t have to eat the same things every day, and, believe it or not, they can actually even prefer real whole foods (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts) if their gut bacteria are healthy! Kids listen to their body. Getting Back in Touch with Your Intuition What would it be like to be 100% connected to your body again? To make decisions that aligned 100% with your gut intuition—from food, to self-care, relationships, career, and both small and big decisions? It is possible. Grown Up Intuition Examples Some examples of “gut intuition” as an adult may include: Eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you are full. Being able to eat a bite or two of a cookie, not the whole plate. Understanding the “cues” your body is sending when your nose starts running, you get a pimple, bloating happens after a meal or you skip your cycle that month. Saying “no” to overcommitting yourself—not overloading your schedule. Taking a rest day after a tough workout the day prior, or going strong during a 2-hour hike with tons of energy. Sleeping in 8 to 9 hours on a Saturday morning, or waking up with the sunrise—no alarm needed. Going with your first choice Not overthinking or asking 10 different people their opinions. Choosing the burger one day, and craving a salad the next. Eating a scoop of ice cream or piece of dark chocolate because it sounds good. Not eating the same thing every day. Drinking water to quench your thirst Adding sea salt when our body’s craving salt, eating an orange when a cold is coming on, or eating a steak when the body needs some iron—because your body tells you that’s what it wants Living free from food rules. Running with passion after the dreams or goals you have. Having no regrets Being still, quiet and present Is becoming more intuitive really possible? Yes. It’s in you—here are 5 hacks to become more intuitive—both in eating and your life: 5 Hacks to Become an Intuitive Eater Hack #1: Optimize Your Brain Gut Connection for Intuition Intuition (“that gut feeling”) lives in the body and is highly connected to our biology—specifically through the “brain gut” axis. Scientists believe intuition operates through the entire right side of our brain, the brain’s hippocampus, and through our gut. Cool Gut-Brain Facts There are 100 million neurons (brain cells) in the gut—also known as our “enteric nervous system”? That is more brain cells than any other part of your peripheral nervous system outside brain! More than 90% of your serotonin—your feel good brain chemicals—is produced in your gut. The vagus nerve—the nerve that controls both how we think and the process of digestion—is connected directly from the top of your gut to the top of your brain. Your gut is your “second brain” that constantly communicates with the brain. It sends tons of signals to your brain that influence how you think, operate and act—often without even being aware of them. In fact, you have upwards of 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts every day. In order to have accurate “gut feelings” in your mind, it’s vital to take care of your gut health. Hack #2: Practice the 5 Second Rule When faced with a decision, give yourself 5 seconds to decide. No more. Just make a decision and go with your gut—from what to wear, to what to order, what movie to watch, etc. Hack #3: “Check In” At Meals Increase awareness at meal times with these “check-in” exercises. These can help you become an intuitive eater. Meal Time Check In Before your meal, check in with your body and rate your hunger level (rating it on a scale of 1-10), as well as note how you feel (jot it down) After your meal, check in with your body and rate your fullness level (rating it on a scale of 1-10), as well as note how you feel (jot it down) Menu Planning Strategy Check in with your variety (in your daily diet) and when menu planning for the week, aim to incorporate at least 10-20 different colorful plants (veggies/fruits), and 3-4 different proteins to begin to reawaken your taste buds. Hack #4: Develop a Daily Mindfulness Practice Mindfulness goes far beyond closing your eyes for 20 minutes and thinking “nothing” thoughts. Mindfulness is “flow”—and anything that gets you into a place of escape and connection (with yourself). This may mean a “mindful” workout and flow, a yoga class, creating, crafting, writing, getting some fresh air, reading a devotional, prayer journaling or bullet journaling, going on a walk with a podcast—ideally something that is not mindless (like looking at a screen). Something you are still mentally engaged in doing—and something that energizes you to be in “flow.” This is important for an intuitive eater. Hack #5: Breathe Deeply When overwhelm gets the best of you, tap into the power of your breath and body for 5 to 6 deep “yogi” breaths. Here’s how to to do it: Just Breathe Lay down, completely flat on your back or sit up right—legs uncrossed and with feet completely flat on the ground. Inhale through your right nostril for 10 counts. Exhale through your left nostril for 10 counts. Keep mouth closed, or lips pursed. Repeat for 5-6 cycles. Simply focus on just your breath and the calmness around you—nothing else for 5-6 breath cycles. Whip this breathing practice out any time life gets overwhelming or you simply need a few calm moments to slow down, rewire, tap into your gut…and be present.