The past year has definitely shown us the importance of listening—to others and ourselves. Whether it’s been to stay safe during the pandemic, learn new skills to #WFH, honor the stories and experiences of others, or save our own sanity from major burnout—the key has really been to stop talking, to turn the volume down on negativity and to tune in to one another.
This month, I want to explore more ways you can tap into your inner voice and intuition to make healthy choices for your body, your life, and your career! Our bodies are more than equipped to help us if only we stop interrupting and listen!
If stress and a busy schedule has been tempting you to scarf down quick meals from cardboard boxes, I have some tips to help you start to eat more intuitively.
Let’s give your body the real food it’s been craving and set you up to consistently make better decisions.
Intuitive Eating Begins With Stillness
For so many years, I did not know what “intuitive eating” meant, let alone how to get started. Like, do you just decide to do it, or what, AND HOW? It was difficult because my body wasn’t giving me clear signals. Or more accurately, my body was sending me signals, but I couldn’t recognize them with all the other noise I had in my head.
It was sort of like how the teachers in Charlie Brown cartoons always talk in wuah-wuah sounds rather than actual words. I was too busy being busy to decipher what my body was trying to tell me. I wasn’t listening.
And that is the only way you will learn to eat intuitively—by listening—and frankly, to be more intuitive in your life in general! You have to silence the noise. Clear out all the external voices telling you what you “should” do and the worries that compare you to other people.
Look, I get it. This is hard to do sometimes. Especially as a health coach, I was always thinking about what was the next thing in nutrition? What was the next diet everyone was going to go nuts about? Is it paleo? Is it keto? Is it celery juice smoothies? And as an actor and fit model, let’s be real, it’s part of my job to look a certain way. So it is super tempting to wonder what friends or celebrities are doing. I mean, how did she lose all that weight? What’s her workout routine?
Yet these thoughts just take up too much space between our ears. So it’s time to trash the old programming, the negative thoughts and emotions that are dragging you down, the stuff that isn’t serving you, the limiting beliefs… When you clear out all of that junk, you can attain peace and solace, and that is what allows you to really tap in and listen to your body.
There is so much power in stillness. And it gets easier the more you practice it. Now when I have a reaction, I recognize, “That’s the old Moniqua.” That’s how I used to respond, but I don’t believe that anymore. I’m going to choose to respond differently this time. And that goes for how I choose to eat, and how I choose to drink, how I choose to relate, how I choose to listen, and on and on.
Get Started With This Meditation
Intuitive Eating is cyclical in a way. You cultivate stillness and listen to your body’s needs. You make smart decisions based on that information that leads to you feeling healthier and nourished. And that leads to more moments of peace and clarity.
So let’s begin with my Heart Opening Meditation focused on Love + Connection. It’s cyclical too—the more love we have in our hearts, the more we can share it with the world, and the more it comes back to us, right? Plus, it will help you get calm and grounded, so you can clear out the excess noise in your mind.
Implement Small Habits
Once you’ve cultivated stillness, here are some simple habits you can start to incorporate today to be more intentional. The first, and this should be no surprise, is to stay hydrated. Aside from being like liquid gold for your body, it will help reduce your cravings because often when we think we’re hungry, we’re really parched! Drinking enough water will help you get the accurate 411 on your hunger level. It will also help keep your clear headed and focused!
Second, there is no room for wannabe Judge Judys here, my friend. Stop labeling food as “good” or “bad”. There are no “cheat days” either. This kind of thought process attaches powerful emotional triggers to how you eat, when in reality, having a little cheese or chocolate once in a while is not going to tank your progress 😉
Pay attention to how you are chewing. Are you gulping down your food? Slow down and really savor each texture or taste. Try to see if you can pick out some specific flavors or ingredients. The goal is to get a better understanding of how the food is making you feel (physically and mentally too).
I love the suggestion from registered dietitian Colleen Christensen to check in with yourself before, during and after your meal to evaluate your experience and the sensations you’re feeling in your body. When I started paying attention to how I felt when food was in front of me, I found I would eat with more intention. Eventually, I stopped staring into the refrigerator and mindlessly snacking simply because I was bored or needed a distraction.
Tune in to your hunger level and be sure to stop eating before you feel full. If that means you leave a few bites on the plate, so be it. It’s paramount to respect your fullness. And keep in mind, your body doesn’t register how full you are for about 20 minutes.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the core principles of intuitive eating, let me know in the comments below. And I can’t wait to hear your experience tuning in at mealtime, so be sure to let me know in The Badass Beauty Club.
LOVE + bon appétit!