3 Tips to Start Intuitive Eating

We are focusing on intuitive eating tomorrow in the #StartClean2013 health challenge, therefore, I’m encouraging participants to start understanding why they eat when they eat.

Questions to consider when trying to analyze eating habits: Are you eating because you’re hungry? Are you eating because the clock says a certain time on it? How about your full/stopping signals? Do you conclude eating when you’re not hungry any more? Or do you clean your plate regardless of hunger? How do you feel when you’re hungry or full (both physically and mentally)? Are there emotional connections to eating when you do?

And lastly, a question that is asked all too often: How do you start eating intuitively? I’m touching on this question with three steps, to get you learning more about IE and how you can implement it in your life.

3 tips to start eating intuitively.jpg

1. Find your hunger cues. Easier said that done, right? This is why I suggest starting with the first meal you eat of the day. What you’re going to want to do is wait until you physically feel hungry in the morning to eat, verse eating breakfast simply because you’ve woken up. Sure it’s been eight hours since you’ve gone to bed, but give your body some time to wake up and tell you, you are hungry. Once you start recognizing this with your first meal of the day, it’ll be easier to feel this same sensation throughout other times of the day.

2. Try a food/mood journal. Some people count calories or write tedious logs of everything they ate and drank throughout the day. While this works for some, it certainly doesn’t work for all. That said, I am a fan of food journaling – there is so much to be said for accountability, but the kind of journaling I favor is a food/mood journal. The basic premise is you write down what you ate and what kind of mood you were in before and after you ate it. You can also have a section for how hungry you were before and after too! Here is a food/mood template that I really like. You don’t have to fill out how much, and “place” just means whether you ate at home or out. Give this a try to start learning about your body and hungry again!

3. RELAX! Getting in touch with hunger cues can be difficult! Go into learning about intuitive eating with an open mind. You will need practice. You will mess up. Each time you eat is a new opportunity to learn more about your relationship with food, your body, and how you feel when you put food in your mouth. Just by reading this post you’re on the right path of discovering more about your relationship with food – I am proud of you! You should be too! So take a deep breath while you are learning, and relax. Also, try to have a little fun too, k? :)

For topic requests on intuitive eating, please email HealthyHeddleston@gmail.com. Thanks!

More intuitive eating series posts:

Will you be joining in on tomorrow’s eat intuitive day?


  1. 1

    This is so so important. After counseling for years I found that most people were overweight due to not being able to do this. When you can, it’s so empowering to be able to walk away from the food! Great tips.

  2. 3

    I love these tips and that you are introducing those doing the start clean challenge to learning how to intuitively eat. It DOES take so so long but once you get the hang of it, it’s the lightbulb moment and food becomes so much less of a relationship, if that makes sense! More about enjoying the food, yes, but not BECAUSE it makes you happy so much as that it fuels you and that you are enjoying the environment in which you are eating etc. Great post!

    • 4
      Katie Heddleston says:

      Wonderful comment Jo! It takes time to learn that everyone has a relationship with food, and it’s all about learning how to put yourself in control of that relationship instead of the food in control of it.

  3. 5

    I love the breakfast tip. I use to eat first thing in the morning, because when I was younger I use to get very nauseous if I didn’t. Then I would be hungry again by 10 am. This month I am doing a Whole30, which discourages in-between meal snacking. I find I still need something first thing in the morning, but usually just a handful of nuts and only because I work out at that time. But now, I take a breakfast to work with me and don’t feel the need to eat it until 8 or 9 am. And I don’t feel the need to snack through the rest of the day.

  4. 7
    Meagan Marion says:

    I have found that when I eat slower, my body has time to digest and realize when I’m full. When you eat too fast, you’re not letting your mind or body fully enjoy or understand what you’re consuming.

  5. 8

    This is awesome, Katie, thanks! I LOVE the advice to relax…I had a big personal breakthrough when I figured out how to STOP thinking about food all the damn time and just go with the flow. I’m actually probably too relaxed about it now, because I’m not very good at paying attention to/recognizing how different foods are making me feel…hm, something to work on for sure. I’m also pretty good at stopping the second my food loses its luster, even if there’s literally one bite left. I’d rather that bite be in the trash than be unwelcome in my body. :)
    Wish I could have heard your talk at FB!

  6. 9

    This should be interesting. At work, I always feel hungry around 9:30, 12:00 and 2:30. I try to wait as long as possible but some times I feel spaced out and need to have my snacks or lunch ASAP. Even though I drink anywhere from 70-94 oz of water a day…. I always seem to be hungry!

  7. 10

    Great post! I’ve tried to eat intuitively, but it seems to be really difficult for me… I just LOVE food too much! LOL I’ve been a calorie counter for many years now & it seems to work, although it’s tedious at times.

  8. 11

    Great tips, thanks Katie! My biggest problem is being at home the majority of the day I eat without realizing so I have to track my food.

  9. 12

    Great post! I am sharing this to a lot of family members by email! Thank you Katie!

  10. 13

    I love the ideas behind intuitive eating, and try to incorporate them into my work as a counselor! I think getting to know more about hunger, what you really are needing in the moment, and connecting food and mood are really important. This is a great post, and I’ll be sharing it tomorrow in my weekly link up!

We Love to Hear From You