The other day I was low on groceries and had them scheduled to be delivered later that day. It was a crummy day outside and I would have had to take my toddler with me, so I didn’t feel like going out to get lunch.
So I ate what I had available: leftover stir fry. It tasted fine, but it wasn’t necessarily what I was in the mood for, so it wasn’t super satisfying. But most of the time what I eat IS satisfying, so it wasn’t a big deal.
This is still intuitive eating.
How can this still be intuitive eating if it wasn’t what I was hungry for?
Because sometimes food is just fuel, based on what we have available in that moment.
I might be hungry for homemade chocolate chip cookies, but that’s not really feasible if I don’t have access to them right now. I can certainly plan to make some soon, or to find a substitute that is roughly as satisfying, like a bakery cookie.
It’s also no different than going to a dinner party at a friend’s house and the only thing served is something you weren’t in the mood for. You eat enough to satisfy your hunger “well enough” in the moment and trust that you can access more satisfying food later.
With intuitive eating we want to honor our body’s need for fuel when we are hungry, and then choose the most satisfying thing from what is available to us. What is available will, of course, vary.
This is where knowing yourself and planning ahead can be really helpful. As you get to know your body’s hunger rhythm (which is easiest when you have a consistent/predictable eating schedule most days), you’ll also get to know your true food preferences and cravings. (Note: These are different from that old script of what you think you “should” eat.)
For example, I can anticipate that at some point during any given week I am going to be hungry for ice cream, so I always keep some on hand. My husband loves Mexican food, so we try to incorporate that into dinners about once a week or so. We plan for foods that we anticipate will satisfy us.
It doesn’t always work out, but if you’re food is satisfying most of the time, then it’s no big deal if occasionally you have to eat something you weren’t necessarily hungry for.
Intuitive eating is a journey, and it’s not a a perfect science. The more you practice, the more fluent you’ll get. Don’t get discouraged if you sometimes eat something unsatisfying.