Picture yourself unwrapping a whole stick of butter. Now take a biiiiig bite. Chew it around your mouth, focus on the flavor. How’s it taste? Want another bite? AHHH GROSS NO THANK YOU.
Even if you are in a place in your life where you feel completely out of control around food, I bet you don’t want a big mouthful of straight butter. You don’t have to tell yourself “Okay now, self, please don’t eat this whole stick of butter like a popsicle.” You just know. You just know that this is not something you desire. No self-control required.
That feeling right there — that’s intuition. That’s the basis of intuitive eating.
You already have the natural intuition it takes to be an intuitive eater! You always have. Everyone is born an intuitive eater, with natural hormones that effortlessly regulate hunger and fullness. No counting, no stressing, no tracking. It’s as uncomplicated and instinctive as knowing to grab a sweater when you’re cold and get some sleep when you’re tired.
So why is it so gross to think about eating a whole stick of butter by itself? My guess is that it’s because butter is basically all fat, which our bodies need, but only in certain quantities. We have natural instincts to crave fats, and also to stop eating them when we’ve satisfied the need. Oh hey look at that — eating in moderation, and it comes naturally when we allow our bodies to their thang.
Gnawing on a whole stick of butter doesn’t sound delicious because your body doesn’t want or need it. But butter goes from disgusting to delicious when you enjoy it with other things: a hunk of bread, a sugared crepe, a strip steak. Yum! Like fat, our bodies also crave things like sugar, carbs, and protein, but only in certain quantities. You don’t need a diet to keep them in check! Diets are what disrupted your instincts in the first place.
(Side note: If you actually do want to eat a whole stick of butter, I say DO IT! Go ahead and have at it until your brain and body tell you to stop. The message could be delivered in the form of a stomachache, a gag reflex, or just a realization that you’re not having a very good time, all of which are critical tools for intuitive eating. Don’t worry, your body will not let you overdose on butter.)
As you practice listening closely to your body, you’ll start to notice more clues in your everyday life. It could be something kind of obvious, like this:
“Oh look, here is a can of bacon fat within arm’s reach. I am somehow not at all tempted to drink the whole thing, even though diet culture has been telling me my whole life that I am incapable of self-control. Weird.”
Or something subtle and completely mind-blowing, like this:
“Dinner was really satisfying, and the hot fudge sundae on the menu doesn’t sound good to me right now, even though it’s my favorite. Weird.”
Either way, these are not just weird little anomalies. They’re quiet moments of intuition, and they add up to something really big: instincts you can trust, from a body you can trust. Just because diet culture is louder doesn’t mean it’s smarter.