Leanne Nalani

{January 20, 2014}   Intuitive Eating – Nuggets of Wisdom that Helped Me


The Intuitive Eating book provides 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:


I want to create a blog post for each one with my own experiences. It’s only been 2 weeks which is truly hard to believe. I feel like I’ve been doing this for months and I’m loving it! I was just telling my sister last night that an unexpected side-effect is that I’m no longer afraid of social outings, going out to eat, or really anything involving food. I had no idea that would happen and I feel liberated. That alone makes this whole endeavor worth it.

While constructing a blog post for each principle, I found some little nuggets of wisdom to be especially helpful for me thus far:

1. Construct the “perfect bite”

This came from the book by Josie Spinardi called How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too: Stop Binge Eating, Overeating and Dieting For Good Get the Naturally Thin Body You Crave From the Inside Out.

2940016220413_p0_v1_s260x420Longest book title ever?

It is exactly how it sounds. Instead of doing what I used to do and save the best part for last, I started eating the best parts first. By the time those were gone I usually wasn’t very hungry anymore so I could more easily push the rest aside.


  • Oatmeal with PB2 & dried cherries – My perfect bite consists of one or two dried cherries with a good amount of oatmeal. By the time the cherries are gone there’s a bit of oatmeal left but by that time I’m full so I leave it.
  • Cake – My favorite part of cake is the frosting. I haven’t tried this yet, but my perfect bite would be a corner or edge piece of cake with a good mix of frosting and a bit of cake. By the time the frosting is gone the rest of the cake can go. Basically it would make more sense for me to just cut off a slivered edge of cake in order to mostly have frosting with a little cake. Would I like some cake with my frosting? :p

2. Avoiding Distractions


This one was really hard for me because I’d conditioned myself to eat while watching TV. I wouldn’t even allow myself to have a meal without turning on Hulu or Netflix. This year I’ve learned that it’s unwise to do that because the focus goes away from the food – Both enjoying the food and being able to listen to your body. I was skeptical, though! Maybe it was just my stubbornness.

Once I found a few good places to sit and just enjoy my food, I realized that it really did taste better and took time to think about how it made me feel both mentally and physically. I can identify when a meal was a satisfying choice vs. unsatisfying, enjoy the flavors, and feel myself getting full. By the way, did you know that things taste better when you’re hungry? True story, I’ve tried it. The first several bites are the best and as you get full, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that the food doesn’t taste as great as it did in the beginning. Sure it still tastes good, just not as good.

3. Hunger Scale


Between the two books, I decided to use a 1-5 hunger scale instead of a 1-10 scale because it is easier.

1 – Full or overfull

2 – Satiated

3 – Neither hungry or full. Neutral

4 – Hungry

5 – Ravenous/Blood Sugar Drop

 While I’m sitting in my happy food-eating-not-watching-TV-spot, I try to start eating at a 4 and stop at a 2 or maybe 1 (full). I eat and savor which slows me down, take drinks in between every few bites, and stop to assess where I’m at and my overall enjoyment.

4. Let go of tracking, weighing, and numbers


Angry Woman Throwing Scale

OMG. What to say about this… My entire life has been devoted to tracking and weighing and numbers. This one is going to take the longest to stop fretting over. In the beginning of trying intuitive eating I continued to track food in MFP and weigh myself weekly. I took body measurements in the beginning and noted how a lot of my clothes were very tight on my body to the point where I couldn’t wear them.

How am I supposed to let go of that kind of control? It’s all I’ve ever known and I’m a control freak. I’ve never trusted my body to make the decisions for me because I was always sure it was going to end face-down in a bowl full of cookie dough.


The slow process to stop tracking began with intuitively eating and then tracking after eating, instead of planning ahead. Then I moved on to going the whole day without tracking, but then tracking it all at the end of the day just to see how I did. The goal is to stop tracking altogether once I realize that I can trust my body. So far my body has proven to be trustworthy but my mind still has a hard time believing it.

5. There is wiggle room.

Upon reading these books my skepticism said, “If they say to drop the diet mentality and not follow dieting rules, then why are they telling me all these new rules to follow?”


It turns out that everything is not supposed to be hard and fast. Intuitive eating is just supposed to give you some guidelines to teach yourself how to become an intuitive eater so that eventually this stuff will come naturally. There’s no “don’t eat this” or “don’t do that” or “avoid this” or “plan that”.

The wiggle room happens when common sense is allowed to play a role:

Common Sense Example #1 – If you’re going out to eat in a couple hours but you’re hungry NOW, does that mean you should eat a whole meal right now? No. Common sense would say eat a snack to tide you over until the meal.

Common Sense Example #2 – When I’m hungry I usually want real food. So will I ever get to eat things like sweets? I don’t usually want ice cream for lunch but I also don’t want to deprive my body of those yummy tastes or else I’ll binge on them… Common sense would say that it’s ok to enjoy things like dessert here or there (when not hungry) in order to satisfy “taste hunger”. The Intuitive Eating book calls this “play food“. Sometimes I’ll get into the freezer and  take a couple bites of ice cream, or go into my candy stash and eat a cookie or a quarter section of a Kit Kat bar. It satisfies my taste hunger which helps keep me mentally satisfied. Knowing I can and will do that any time I feel like it means I don’t want or need too much of it.

Chronic dieters like myself often don’t follow “eat when you’re hungry/stop when you’re full” or leave unnecessary food on their plates or allow themselves to eat any foods they want or many of these other guidelines I’ve mentioned. The idea is to become more like natural eaters – There are people out there who eat like this naturally because they don’t diet. I still wonder who these people are and have even made a mental list of people I know who I suspect might be natural intuitive eaters. I’d love to pick their brains about their habits.

It starts with guidelines and, over time, is supposed to end with doing these things naturally without having to think about it. I’m not there and this is a process that will probably take a very long time. It depends on the person and their life experiences, how deeply ingrained the diet mentality is. For me, I’ve been restricting and letting go, restricting and letting go most of my life. It’s gonna take a while if this is going to actually work.

*Do you do some of these things?


I am going to have to read this again, and possibly pick up the book! I am loving this.

I have read the book and have tried to follow the principles but am still struggling with it. I’m trying really hard to eat when I’m hungry and remind myself that food doesn’t taste as good when you’re not hungry… which is SO true.

It really is challenging to do! I’m not used to doing any of these things which is why it’s so hard to trust myself. So far the results have been surprising and positive, though. I’m very curious to see how far I’ll take this and where I’ll be in 6 months.

Yeah, I’m still having a hard time trusting myself. I am working on incorporating the principles slowly and just a few at a time. Emotional eating is a real problem for me so right now I’m trying to focus on eating when I’m actually hungry and finding something else to do when I’m just bored, upset, etc.

That is definitely a good focus. I didn’t know how much of an emotional eater I am until now. When I’m upset I have to sit with my feelings or be proactive about them rather than feed them which is hard. The other day I was upset and sat stewing with it for a while. Then I decided I needed to get out of the room so I went and exercised even though I’d already exercised that day. It worked pretty well.

I like the idea of trying your favorite bite first. I never thought about that but it makes a lot of sense. I’ll have to try that one! – Jess

I know! I’ve always been the one to eat all the broken pretzels first before moving on to the whole ones. Why is that?

Great job! As far as not tracking your food, maybe you only go back to it if you gain a few pounds to get back down to your goal? I don’t know, but I DO know I’m proud of you!

[…] Leanne is working through that process after two years of maintenance and I’m loving her blogs about the process. My favorite tip was the idea of taking the best bite […]

Those are great pieces of advice I have the same habit of eating while watching tv!

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