In a world of social media where there are so many opinions, and many of our eating choices are being constantly scrutinized, it is nearly impossible to maintain a healthy relationship with food.

This dietary scrutiny can make eating a not-so-fun experience for anyone. Intuitive eating strives to combat this. Here are a few steps you can take toward intuitive eating:

Stop "Dieting"

I know it sounds overly simple, to the point of being impossible, but it’s not. Simply stop dieting. Don’t put yourself on a diet, don’t try a new diet, don’t let your diet run your life. Nothing is off limits, nothing is required. The first and most important step to eating intuitively is to free yourself from the stigma that food and society can place on you. By dropping the diet, you may be doing yourself a bigger favor than you know. Don’t create food rules for yourself.

Be Hungry

If someone asks if you’re hungry, do you look at your watch? The time of day shouldn’t dictate when we eat; our hunger level should. We’re so constantly surrounded by food that most of us can’t really remember what true, natural hunger is. Instead of eating just because it’s lunchtime, wait for your body to actually feel hungry before you eat.

Stop Vilifying Foods

Chocolate is not the enemy. Bread is not a sin. It’s easy to find countless articles warning you against certain foods, but while the intentions may be pure, the results can be negative. In general, moderation is the key. There’s no need to deny yourself an occasional sweet treat. Take time to also look for health-focused options that are equally delicious, like some we have here.

Pay Attention to Your Body

Just like allowing your body to feel hunger, you have to pay attention to what fullness feels like too. Just because your plate still has food on it doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean you have to have more. Take time to pause throughout your meal and listen to your body. Eat slowly and enjoy your food. When you’re full, stop eating. Simple as that.

Quit Counting

Calories, portions, pounds, laps, minutes; just take a break from those! Eating isn’t about how many, it’s an experience. Stop thinking about how many grams of sugar is in that birthday cake and instead focus on how many years you’re celebrating on your birthday. Don’t think of exercise as a means to a calorie-burning end, think of it as a way to give your body more energy. Focus on the positives, not numbers.

Experience Your Food

In our busy lives, it can be easy to grab something on the go or to rely on a granola bar while we work. Don’t let food become secondary; take time to actually enjoy what you’re eating. A carefully constructed meal is a symphony of flavors and they all play an important role in the experience of a great dish. As you slow down and appreciate what you’re eating and how it’s making you feel, you will begin to naturally crave and enjoy healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Eat For Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Intuitive eating isn’t just eating what’s good for you physically, it’s a completely holistic approach to eating. Your body can crave things that help to build overall health, your mind will want to enjoy bold and rich new flavors and your soul will yearn for something that is so much more than a meal. Listen to every part of you that needs nourishment. Enjoy your food, don’t limit yourself unnecessarily, and respect your body’s feelings of hunger and fullness. With these in mind, instead of being susceptible to fads, you can retrain your body to eat intuitively and truly enjoy a good meal.

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