What does it look like to eat intuitively? I’m going to show what my typical day of eating looks like as an intuitive eater versus a dieter.
Ever since learning about intuitive eating and adopting it’s principles a few months ago, I get a lot of questions about what I typically eat in a day. I was a little hesitant to do a post like this because I know that some people may turn this into their eating plan, and that’s not the point of this post.
My intention isn’t for you to take what you see here and apply it as an eating plan to your life. Instead, my intention is to share with you how easy it is to become an intuitive eater and apply the principles in YOUR life.
I want to clarify some things before I share with you what a day in my life looks like:
- I NEVER count calories. Instead I listen to my body’s cues of hunger and fullness.
- I NEVER count macros. While I do try and balance the majority of meals with protein, fats, and carbs, I don’t calculate the grams or percentages of each.
- I NEVER eat by the clock. If I’m hungry at 10:30, I’ll eat lunch then. If I’m not hungry until 1:30 again, I’ll eat then. I eat when my body is hungry, not by what the clock says.
- I choose to eat wholesome foods most of the time, but I also leave room for fun foods like cookies, cake, desserts, chips, etc. every single day.
- My day of eating is going to look different than your day of eating. What my body needs in a day is going to be different than what your body needs.
Right after I wake up, I make my way down to the kitchen for a pre-workout snack. The reason is, I like to exercise first thing in the morning. I’ve been doing this for years! Why? Because I LOVE to exercise, which involves mainly lifting heavy weights. It gives me energy, it makes my bones strong, and I just really, really enjoy it. Notice I didn’t say that I do it for weight loss or muscle gains or to manipulate my body?!
Please note that this is NOT a post about when you should exercise, what type of exercise you should be doing, what types of foods you should be eating, etc. This is just what I LIKE to do and what works best for MY body.
When I used to exercise to change my body, I would workout on a completely empty stomach, thinking that I could “burn more fat” that way. However, I now realize that my body NEEDS sustenance in order to get through my weight lifting workouts.
I start out by mixing up a pre-workout drink and then eat this:
This is a pitted date with some nut butter and a piece of dark chocolate inside! SO good!
Before a workout, my body needs some quick energy, and this does the trick.
After my workout, I quickly shower and then make my breakfast and the kid’s breakfast. For my breakfast, I like to have a few different things. Sometimes it’s Greek yogurt with Purely Elizabeth granola, some banana, blueberries, and a dollop of nut butter on top.
Other days it’s a chocolate protein shake with an Ezekiel cinnamon raisin English muffin. Or sometimes it’s pumpkin pie oatmeal. Either way, I love having a nice filling and satisfying breakfast.
When I was dieting, I typically ate the same breakfast day in and day out. Maybe I enjoyed it, maybe not. It never mattered because it was all about the calories.
Usually my breakfast will hold me over for 3ish hours. Somedays it’s only 2 hours. I don’t know why that is, but my body knows it’s hungry in 2 – 3 hours and that’s all that matters.
You might be thinking…wait, there are so many other choices for breakfast, why do you choose those ones?! What about eggs, bacon, and toast? Or what about pancakes? Some days I may feel like eggs and bacon, and if I do, I’ll have that. As you strengthen your intuitive eating skills, you realize that you don’t have to eat typical breakfast foods or the same foods over and over again, you just eat what you love to eat in that moment without thinking about the calories or the macros. It’s easy to make a decision and move on with your life. But that takes some time so give yourself patience and space to do that.
Somewhere between 11:00 and 11:30 in the morning, I’m starting to get hungry again.
One thing you learn with intuitive eating is you don’t have to eat by the clock. Instead, you eat when your body says it needs to eat!
Lunch can be a few different things. Sometimes it’s a smoothie with some kind of veggies and 1/2 a bagel. Sometimes it’s a salad with a sandwich. Other times it’s leftovers.
Why half a bagel? Am I on a diet? HECK NO!! I’ve tried eating a whole bagel with a smoothie and veggies and usually it’s just too much. Half a bagel hits the spot. Intuitive eating takes some trial and error in the beginning until you know how much food will satisfy you.
This picture is a mixed greens salad with dried cranberries, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. I also had a sandwich on Ezekiel bread with turkey, lettuce, avocado, cheese, mayo, and mustard.
I don’t always have my sandwich on this bread though. Sourdough bread is a favourite of mine, so I often buy a loaf from our local bread store. Other times I’ll have a bagel instead. It just depends what I’m feeling like that day.
I’m usually hungry again between 3 and 4 pm. My typical snack consists of some fruit with a homemade muffin or banana bread.
I absolutely LOVE homemade baked goods, so I make them often. This is my blueberry muffin. If I don’t feel like a muffin or some banana bread, I’ll have some crackers or Veggie chips…anything yummy and snacky that will tide me over until dinner.
If a meal will be in 1-2 hours, my goal is to not feel hungry anymore. If it’s longer than 1-2 hours I need to feel satisfied and like my stomach is full. That’s how I determine what I’ll have for a snack.
Our family dinner’s are always different. I make my meal plan each week and plan our dinner menu ahead of time. BUT…if there is something planned for dinner that night and I’m just not in the mood for it, I’ll switch it with another day and make something else that’s on the menu. But typically I plan meals that I want to eat.
This day happened to be meatball Gyros with a side of roasted balsamic and maple Brussels sprouts.
Sometimes it’s a pasta dish, sometimes it’s a vegetarian dish, sometimes it’s chicken, sometimes it’s beef. Back when I was dieting, our dinner had to be all lean meats and zero fat, or later on when I was doing keto, it had to be very low carb and high fat. Now, it’s just whatever we feel like, which typically consists of a protein, starch, and veggie.
99% of the time we eat together as a family, so our dinner is usually at 6:15 pm. Because I know what time we eat, I can plan my afternoon snack accordingly. I know I said that I don’t eat by the clock, and that’s true for the most part, except when it comes to dinnertime. Our family dinners are important to me, so having a time that works where we can all sit together to talk and eat is a priority.
Two hours after dinner I’m usually getting a little hungry again. That’s when I like to have my evening snack, which usually consists of fun foods!
I love to have something crunchy in the evening. My two favourites are Que Pasa Nacho Cheese chips (taste like Doritos!) or Boom Chika Pop Cheddar Popcorn. I’ll put some in a small bowl and snack away.
Afterwards, I love to have some dark chocolate!! I can’t go a day without having some chocolate!!
Sometimes I’ll have some almond butter cups, or some plain dark chocolate, or these Ghiradelli Sea Salt and Caramel dark chocolate squares, or all 3! YUM!
I love ending my evening with some fun foods like these. It gives me satisfaction at the end of my day. Dinner gets me full, but a bedtime snack takes me from full to satisfied. And because I don’t deny myself these fun foods, I never crave them or binge on them.
Intuitive eating certainly isn’t perfect, and please remember, it doesn’t look the same for everyone. It’s an ongoing process of learning to care for your body in different seasons of life and under different circumstances.
I’d love to hear in the comments where you’re at with intuitive eating (maybe you’re like, Jen what the heck is intuitive eating?) and what you’re learning.
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