As we approach the new year, it’s a common time for many people to start creating resolutions based on how they want to look. Whether that be getting skinnier, shrinking oneself, or squeezing into that one pair of pants (we all have one!) buried in the dresser drawer.
But while health goals are great, goals that are connected to our appearance can be hard to fulfill, and can even put a damper on our mental health in the long run. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be skinny, but we should also remember that skinny doesn’t always equal healthy, and vice versa.
With that in mind, a healthier approach to new year’s resolutions might sound something like “I want to eat healthier / feel better” instead of “I want to look a certain way.” After all - how we eat and treat ourselves is much more in the realm of our control than our appearance.
The good news is that you don’t have to do any extreme or fad diets to eat healthier. Instead, you can use intuitive eating to create a healthy lifestyle that is in alignment with your goals. Before we discuss exactly how to do so, let’s make sure we’re clear on what intuitive eating is and the benefits it offers.
What is Intuitive Eating?
In a sense, you can think of intuitive eating as “the anti-diet.” Rather than impose strict rules about certain foods you’re allowed to eat, intuitive eating has one simple guideline: Eat what you want when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.
So why eat intuitively? A few reasons:
- Intuitive eating can promote a healthier body image and attitude toward food.
Intuitive eating teaches you about your body (what foods digest well and energize you, when and how much to eat, etc).
- Intuitive eating can help you distinguish real hunger from emotional eating.
Sounds pretty great, huh? But I can already hear some people asking themselves: “What if my intuition tells me I should eat cookies and chocolate every day? Obviously that can’t be right!”
Actually, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Some of us are naturally drawn to sweeter, rather than savory, foods. Rather than ignore this impulse (which could lead to a sugar binge down the line) you can honor it in a way that is healthy. This is easier than ever to do today, with the vast offering of nutrient-dense alternatives to your favorite foods.
For example, you could opt for Maxine’s Heavenly cookies instead of Pepperidge Farm or Chips Ahoy. Our cookies include natural foods like dates and oats which make them much more healthy and satiating than other brands.
Similarly, with chocolate, you could simply enjoy organic dark chocolate that is very high in cacao (cacao is actually a superfood - rich in antioxidants, theobromine, and more) instead of heavily refined and sugared chocolates.
Health isn’t quite as simple or black and white as “salads = good, chocolate + cookies = bad.” Plenty of salad dressings are loaded with fat and sugar, while plenty of cookies (like ours!) use wholesome ingredients that support your health.
How to Get Started With Intuitive Eating
As the name implies, the most important aspect of intuitive eating is using your intuition to learn what your body needs and what foods it responds well to. This means introspecting rather than looking outward at external trends like the latest diet, beauty standards, etc.
Next time you sense yourself being hungry, try and sense what your body is genuinely telling you it needs (both mentally and physically).
Break Down Your Goals
What intuitive eating looks like for you also depends on what your own health goals look like. For some people, it may mean getting stronger. Others might want to feel lighter, or run faster. For others, the goal might be entirely mental health-focused. There’s no wrong answer here.
Whatever your goal is, try and break it down into smaller actionable steps that are very achievable. For example, getting stronger is a great goal, but it’s somewhat big and vague. Instead, you could try to establish a smaller, more specific daily habit such as doing 2 push-ups every day after brushing your teeth.
Setting smaller goals like this also allows us to change course intuitively. You may find that your goal changes with time, and it’s ok to change your daily habit to reflect that. To make our daily goals as easy as possible, some people like James Clear actually recommend making them as small as possible. He calls these tiny daily goals and practices Atomic Habits.
Check In With Yourself
Following your intuition means you must regularly check in with yourself. Are you enjoying the foods, lifestyle, and habits that you’ve chosen for yourself? If not, it’s perfectly fine to change course after reflecting on what you truly want.
Remember: most of us have spent our whole lives taking cues from the external world (school, parents, bosses, etc.) It can take some time to actually get good at checking in with yourself and figuring out what you want! However you choose to eat or live, make sure to be kind to yourself and honor your own individual process.
Have a Great 2022
As we begin the new year, just remember that you don’t need a new diet, or an appearance-based goal. You can go a different way: eating intuitively and honoring the individual wants and needs of your body. Start slow, start small, and have a great 2022! - From all of us here at Maxine’s Heavenly.