The Fit Foodie’s Meal Prep Plan is now available as a digital download and paperback book. Click here.

Learn to eat intuitively in 3 easy steps

Have you felt guilty for demolishing the pantry in another binge? Angry with yourself for overeating yet again? Every question WHY you just can’t control yourself around food?If you can relate to this, intuitive eating could be the resolve for you.

Picture this: You open that packet of cookies and promise yourself ‘just one’, but it turns into the whole packet and you’re left feeling miserable and guilty. You follow it up the next day with a gym session and avoiding high calorie food because you're ‘trying to be good’. A few days later, it all falls apart again and you’re back into another set of cookies / chocolate / sweets / crisps [delete as appropriate]. 

You are NOT alone.

Hitting the gym hard and eating only a small chicken salad the next day might be one of your biggest mistakes… and it’s what keeps many people stuck in the overeating cycle. 

After years of restrictive eating, a stint with orthorexia and then binging to regain the weight, I have more than enough experience in emotionally-driven eating. After much experimenting, different diets and psychology appointments, I have FINALLY come to a happy balance with ‘intuitive eating’. It sounds complex, or some sort of new fad diet, but it is in fact quite the opposite. Listening to your natural appetite and hunger signals to determine when and how much you eat has been a COMPLETE game changer for me, and gifted me with complete food freedom. I can finally trust myself around a packet of cookies.

Listen up!

Thanks to my Nutritional Medicine Studies at Endeavour College, I’ve learnt to understand the body systems at play. Your brain and stomach are in constant communication with one another. A very smart section of your brain called the hypothalamus receives chemical messages from your gut letting you know when you are hungry or when you are satiated.

READ NEXT: How to balance work, study and life.

Remember as a child you only ate when you felt like it? Chances are if you were out playing, you probably forgot all about it. As adults however, we’ve become conditioned to eat at certain times (12:30pm lunch break anyone?) and gained emotional connections to food, thanks to cake on birthdays, ice-cream tubs after a breakup, and turkey at Christmas! We’ve fallen out of the habit of actually LISTENING to our body signals telling us what is wants, and when, based on our natural appetite. When you tune into your hunger and eat appropriately, your body will instinctively let you know when it is time to stop. No more fear about eating the whole packet of  cookies.

So what does that look like for me now I’ve mastered intuitive eating?

I eat when I’m hungry, to a point of comfortable fullness. I rarely overeat. I don’t punish myself with exercise. I don’t starve myself to ‘make up for it’. I don’t feel guilty or superior around food. I do not eat at the same time every day.
Some mornings that may mean I skip breakfast, or eat enough toast and avocado to feed a small village. When you learn to respond to signals of hunger, fullness, and appetite, your body will be guiding you to make healthy, enjoyable choices. No more counting calories or obsessing about food.
Like the sounds that? It's time we gave power BACK to our intuition.

Here’s 3 simple steps to practice intuitive eating for yourself.

Try it every time you go to eat something for a week, and see what you learn about yourself. The results can be quite amazing!Firstly, don’t forget to ask yourself if there’s something else going on:

  • Am I thirsty?
  • Am I wanting to eat to avoid doing something uncomfortable or boring?

Once you’ve determined you are in fact wanting food, use this handy 3-step tool to suss out when is a good time to eat.
Step 1: Rate your hunger level on a scale of 1-10.
Step 2: Eat when you reach 7 on the scale.
Step 3: Stop when you reach 3. Remember it takes around 20 minutes for your body to realise it’s full, so take time to eating mindfully and savour your food.

When you’ve practised using this technique a number of times, it begins to become second nature (aka. INTUITIVE). Welcome to the club!!

It takes a little practice, but when you get the hang of it, your body will find it’s natural set point (aka. Homeostasis)- which is exactly where it loves to be. It’s where you thrive, feel nourished, and have energy in abundance. BRING IT ON.
Thinking about studying nutrition yourself?

Hit the link below to read the curriculum.

Sal xo

Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also works as a commercial food photographer and stylist, is studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and is the author of two cookbooks: Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017) and Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch, 2019).

  1. Hi Sal

    I embarked on the intuitive eating way of life a few months ago and I have to say it has made an amazing difference…..eating when you are hungry and actually stopping to enjoy it who would have thought it would be as simple and as difficult as that. My main habit was eating in front of the TV after dinner or ‘mindless’ eating as I call it sit down with the packet of biscuits going only 3 at the most then looking down and realising the whole packet was gone, but now I prepare and eat a dinner that fills me up (including extra helping or a dessert if I feel the need) and I don’t even want to eat anything else. It’s been a life changer plus my clothes started to get looser and I had to buy smaller sizes, but I didn’t weigh myself as I just preferred to enjoy the differences, then people kept asking so out of curiosity I weighed myself and I had dropped 11kg…..but I prefer the just enjoying and not worrying about the figures the most so I haven’t done a weigh in since.

    Cheers Jo

    1. Jo what an amazing achievement!! Sounds like you’ve nailed the technique and it really worked for you.
      It’s amazing how we zone out and try to do other things whilst eating. Eating should be an enjoyable activity in itself. AMAZING weight loss, but more importantly, you’re taking notice of your body signals and nourshing it properly as it needs. WELL DONE YOU!

  2. I read your post with a lot of curiosity and I believe that eating intuitively is really a great thing also because it would be the first step to be more conscientious. I, I was an overweight girl then I did this very strict diet and I eliminated the extra pounds now I’m following your advice and I’m really great thanks

  3. Hi Sal, just come across your page and as someone who’s struggled with an eating disorder in the past I am going to give your intuitive eating tips a go. I am certainly in the habit of eating for the sake of it being 12.30 when I’m not even hungry, and then again at 3. Punishing my body with exercise and restricting food is still something I do often yet j tell myself it’s “normal”. Thanks for the tips and I’ll check in to let you know how I go. X

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.