First, let’s define Intentional Eating since it is the basis of all my programs. By definition, intent is “aim” or “purpose.” So, what is your “purpose” or “aim” with eating? There is no right or wrong answer. Occasionally it might be for pure pleasure, other times for fuel, most of the time to satisfy hunger, or to improve your health. Knowing your intent with food is essential in managing chronic diseases and improving your health.
Now, let’s take you through the steps of Intentional Eating.
Know your why. Why do I want to eat? What is my intent with food? Am I hungry? Bored? Sad? Stressed? Getting ready to exercise? Before putting one bite in your mouth, it’s important to identify the “why” so you can make sure you are eating for the right reasons.
Know your what. What am I going to eat? This is the most important step in managing chronic diseases. By carefully choosing “what” you can optimize energy, sleep, hormones, blood sugars, blood pressure, etc. The list could go on and on. Choosing the right foods is key to feeling great.
Know your how. Am I eating at home? In the car? With other people? Fast? Slow? Standing up? Sitting down? Managing “how” you eat will maximize the food that you put into your body so you can feel your best.
Intentional Eating does not have to be tricky or difficult. It just takes some practice. By paying attention to why you eat, what you eat, and how you eat, you will see how different foods affect you in different ways, You will be empowered to make the food choices that give you the results you want.
Some days you want to eat well and some days you don’t. Have you ever noticed if your exercise affects how you eat? A research article published in the May 2019 edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics looks at this very question.
After surveying 1600 women between the ages of 40-50, the following obeservations were made:
Those who exercised with the main motivation to lose weight, were less likely to eat intuitively, less likely to listen to their body’s feelings of hunger and satiety, more likely to restrict their food choices based on a specific diet, and more likely to eat for emotional reasons instead of physical reasons.
Those who exercised because of intrinsic motivation (health, enjoyment, improvement of mood, and pleasure) were more likely to eat intuitively, listen to their body’s signals of hunger and fullness, not restrict their eating to a certain diet, and eat for physical reasons instead of emotional ones.
This study illustrates that if you can focus on exercise for the positive benefits it brings to your life, instead of weight control or improving your appearance, you may be more likely to eat intuitively. And why is that important? Because intuitive eating has been linked to the following benefits according to other research: