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According to Wikipedia, intuition is ‘the ability to acquire knowledge without recourse to conscious reasoning.’ There’s an inner knowing which doesn’t require a conscious process of thinking.

Many believe that it’s something some people just have – and others don’t.

But I disagree.

I think we all have the potential for greater intuition.

So what does it take to cultivate intuition?

I believe there are two things:

1. Awareness of what your mind is doing

If you aren’t aware of the running commentary in your mind, forget about cultivating intuition. If you don’t have the knowledge and skill to firstly be aware of the mind’s chatter and secondly to discern truth from assumption, opinion, judgement and plain fake news, then all hope of developing your intuition is lost.

When it comes to Intuitive Eating, the kinds of chatter you need to become adept at noticing and dispelling are:

  • anything around weight gain or weight loss
  • anything around the potential health-giving or -robbing properties of a food
  • moral values (good and bad) about certain foods
  • whether or not you should be eating now

If these kinds of thoughts are running in your mind unnoticed and unchallenged, you will not be making intuitive decisions about eating.

2. Practice

Back to my earlier point about whether or not intuition is something some lucky people just have…

Think about firefighters. They’re called on the scene of a raging fire. They don’t have time to think through all the possible scenarios or reasons for the fire progressing the way it is. They appear to ‘just know’ what to do. But remember, the leaders, the ones who direct the crew have attended hundreds of fires. They’ve learned through practice what to look out for. They’ve learned what certain fires sound like, look like and smell like. They don’t need to think about it on the spot.

But before they came to this they needed to study, ask questions, learn from others more experienced than them and to make mistakes and learn from those. They’ve had to learn to manage their minds and not to make assumptions about fires.

They didn’t arrive on the first day of the job intuitively knowing about fires and how to handle them in complex, unknown and new situations.

No, they become intuitive through hundreds of hours of practice and experience.

The same goes for Intuitive Eating

At some point, when you’ve become skilled at recognising and dispelling the diet mentality and after you’ve developed your interoceptive awareness (awareness of the sensations inside your body), so that you’ve learned what different levels of hunger feel like, and you know what different levels of fullness and satisfaction feel like for your particular body and you’ve missed the mark many times and learned from that… it all falls into place.

Then you find that you don’t really need to stop and think anymore about whether or not you’re hungry. You don’t need to keep checking in with your growing sense of fullness or satisfaction – it just happens. Naturally. Easily. Without effort.

That’s how you cultivate your eating intuition.

Need help making peace with food?