Healthy Eating for Your Active Lifestyle

The idea of intuitive eating – eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied – is a food philosophy that continues to grow in popularity. Based on the ten principles of intuitive eating, here are four tips to get started.

1.  Ask yourself what you like to eat.

Most people never think about what they like to eat. As a result, eating can start to feel like a chore. Or worse, people seesaw back and forth between eating what they should eat – feeling bored or restrained – and what they want to eat – feeling guilty or out of control. You deserve a better relationship with food.

Start by creating a list of your favourite foods to eat. Pick one of these foods to start with. For some, the idea of eating a “forbidden food” is scary. It can be helpful to begin with the most comfortable choice and experiment with this food at meals and snacks. Give yourself lots of compassion (this work can be hard) and with time, move towards more and more challenging foods. Give yourself permission to seek out support if needed.

As you continue this work, make a point of editing your list. You may find foods you thought you liked, you don’t, and foods you told yourself you don’t like, you do.

Connects to intuitive eating principles 1, 3, 4, 6 and 10.

 2.  Press pause on judgment.

 Rather than say a food is “good” or “bad,” try asking how it makes you feel. Energized? Sluggish? Content? There is no right or wrong answer. Every eating experience is an opportunity to learn. Pay attention to your body’s feedback and make a note of it for next time.

 Know there is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” intuitive eater. This eating philosophy is about daily progress versus perfection.

 Connects to intuitive eating principles 4 and 6.

 3.  Begin listening to your hunger and fullness cues.

While many of us know the difference between being stuffed and starving, there are many levels of hunger and fullness between these extremes. Try keeping a hunger and fullness journal. You can start with a meal or snack and work up to a day. Aim to honour your hunger and fullness by tuning in and responding as best you can.

Once you are more familiar with these cues, consider how you want to feel when you’re done eating and 20 minutes after that. Depending on what you have planned for the day, you might prefer to eat a little more or a little less. You get to decide.

Connects to intuitive eating principles 2 and 5.

4.  Have enjoyable foods on hand.

This tip comes directly from the authors of intuitive eating. If you’ve dieted for a long time, having enjoyable food on hand helps your body learn to trust you will provide for it.

Consider how the food will be stored. For some, this may be keeping snack-size bags of dried fruit and nuts in the car, apples and cheese in the work fridge, and dark chocolate in your workbag. You decide what sounds good and will be most helpful.

As someone whose job once included driving to rural communities, I can attest that these snacks got me through a lot. Even for day-to-day hassles, such as running late or finding you’re hungrier than you anticipated, having food on hand means you won’t feel hungry, stressed and deprived.

Connects to intuitive eating principles 1, 2 and 3.

 Each eating experience is a learning opportunity. Discovering what you like to eat, removing judgment, tuning in and consistently nourishing your body all work to support your overall health and wellbeing. Return to these four steps again and again to strengthen the connection to your body and build self-trust.

Want to learn more?

Read or listen to  Intuitive Eating.

For extra support, find a dietitian with experience in intuitive eating.

AFLCA members

Are you looking for practical nutrition tools for your clients? Log in to the AFLCA Members section of the website and order free resources today!A great option to compliment this blog is The Hunger Scale.


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Lindsay Buchanan, RD

Registered Dietitian

Lindsay (BSc, RD, MEd) is an Edmonton-based registered dietitian and blogger for Nourish Move Thrive®. She compassionately supports clients cultivate trust with food and their body. Her work emphasizes a positive and flexible approach to food, meals and movement.

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