Ep. #63: A Day in the Life of an Intuitive Eater

A day in the life of an intuitive eater. Image of Caitlin Ball.
Photo: Andrea Monica Hug

Happy 2020! I hope everyone is off to a great start. Today’s episode is a little bit different than usual. It’s a quick look at a day in the life of an intuitive eater, and encompasses what it looks like to eat intuitively for a 3-day period in my own life.

The days I cover include one where I got up and headed to my co-working space, one where I worked from home, and then a weekend day that included family time and going out to eat.

Before we dive in, I want to remind you about the Food Freedom and Body Confidence Challenge. It might be the ONLY time I run the challenge this year, and it includes a LIVE workshop, Facebook community, and practical steps you can easily implement at home. Ready? Head over to www.caitlinball.com/challenge to sign up!

Day 1 – A Day In the Life: At the Office

This was Thursday, Jan 2, so right after celebrating New Years! Due to all the holiday festivities, we didn’t have much in the fridge. However, I do like packing a lunch when I work from the office, so I knew I wanted to bring something with me. (Technically my intuitive eating journey for Thursday started Wednesday night, as I thought about what the next day would hold.)

When we got home from celebrating, I was feeling a little blah from the extra food and alcohol I had on New Years. My body was asking for veggies! I found some quinoa in the pantry, plus some leftover guacamole, a cucumber, and tuna. I was able to whip that together into an easy-to-pack lunch the night before, and I was ready to go!

Quick Tip:

Lots of times intuitive eating asks you to think about how you feel now, as well as how you might feel the next day.

I knew I was going to want veggies and food that would really fuel my brain and give me energy so I could be fully present at work. Knowing that gave me the motivation I needed to create a lunch that would fit the bill!

Packing the night before is wise, because my little guy gets up early! Often he’ll watch a show as he wakes up, and I take advantage of that time to do a bit of journaling. I prefer journaling first thing in the morning (especially since the alternative to journaling seems to be immediately getting on my phone). I’d rather journal first, so I let go of the “mom guilt” I sometimes feel about him watching TV and take that time to start my day in a way that feels good. (He enjoys it too!)

Once we’re done with that, we eat breakfast together. Since the pantry and fridge were running a little low, we had oats (about the only option left!), and then we threw in some frozen berries. I also had nuts and seeds on hand.

Quick Tip:

A huge part of my intuitive practice includes the habit of keeping foods around that will fuel me and my family. Things like frozen berries, nuts and seeds, and, of course, oats, are pretty easy to keep stocked. They can be converted into breakfasts, snacks, or add-ons to other meals, and they’re tasty too!

On that particular Thursday, I had woken up feeling SO bloated. We had just spent four days with my family, which had included tons of eating out, and more alcohol than usual. I was feeling it! On days like that, I ask myself, “What do I need today?”

For me, the answer was to eat more veggies and home cooked meals. I could tell my system was feeling sluggish, and baked goods tend to exacerbate that feeling for me. Since I wasn’t feeling quite as good as I wanted to feel, I decided to opt out of the baked sweets. Instead, I packed a bit of dark chocolate, which is one of my favorite snacks!

I also pulled a frozen family meal out of the freezer so it could thaw during the day. We had rice that I knew I could add to it later as well.

Since movement sounded nice, I decided to walk to BART (public transit). My husband could have dropped me off, but I felt like the 20 minute walk would feel good for my body, and be a nice start to the day. It wasn’t a formal workout, but I didn’t need to force that into being.

Quick Tip:

Intuitive movement is just as important as intuitive eating, and can be easy and enjoyable. As you’re checking in with your body and thinking about you need, movement will naturally present itself as an option!

On my walk, I realized I really wanted a chai latte, so I got one. When I have writing to do (which I did), I really like having a nice drink to go with it.

By the time 10:30 hit, I had a chocolate craving, so I enjoyed somme chocolate. Often my chocolate cravings come in the morning, and I consume most of my chocolate between 10-1 ever day.

Quick Tip:

There’s not a “wrong” time for chocolate (or any dessert), and you don’t need to follow rules about when you’re “allowed” to have a snack.

At 12:15 there was an exercise class at my co-working space that I really love. It’s like a yoga/pilates fusion, and it’s so fun. I had a client call scheduled for 1:00, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to the whole class. That’s alright! I enjoyed doing 30 minutes of a class I enjoy, and I didn’t feel bad about leaving early.

I ate lunch on my call, since I knew it was fine to do so. It definitely wasn’t a drawn out (or exciting) affair where I was really in tune with my food. So glad I had packed my lunch the night before, though, because it made me feel good to eat a homemade lunch and fuel my body.

Once work was done, I made a little tea for the afternoon. I headed home, and once I was off BART I decided to walk back to the house. I truly love walking; it feels so good, and is just a nice way to move my body. At home, I cut up some apples and carrots for my husband, son, and I to snack on while the rest of dinner was cooking. 

I knew I’d be shopping the next day, so no stress about not having many veggies with that dinner. Afterwards, I enjoyed a bit of chocolate, put my son to bed, and then did a bit of meditation. I know lots of people say you should meditate in the morning, but that’s not what works for me, so that’s not what I do.

Finally, I end the day with my gratitude journal (which has been such a great practice), and then read a bit of fiction. Reading something that is 100% just for fun is the perfect way to end the day.

I was in bed with the lights off before 10pm, which is usually my goal. (Early mornings and body that really needs a full 8 hours mean bedtime comes quickly for me!)

Day 2 – A Day in the Life: Working From Home

On work from homes days, I have a similar start to the day as office days. Cooper and I get up, and he usually watches a show while I journal. On this day…not so much. He wanted to play and cuddle, so we did that instead. I don’t stress about missing a day of journaling, and I find it works best if I just go with the flow. As a mom, that’s part of my personal self-care! Some days I can do the things, and other days it doesn’t happen, and that’s fine.

I was able to drink my morning warm water. I just let the water warm up, and use that as a way to rehydrate in the morning. I’ve tried lemon water in the past, but it wasn’t my favorite. The warm water? It feels really good lately!

We had picked up a few basic groceries the other day, so we were able to make smoothie bowls for breakfast. We used bananas, and added granola to the top.

Quick Tip:

Back in my dieting days, I would have never added granola to a smoothie, because I made the green ones that were all about following my diet. Now that I eat smoothies because I LIKE them, I prefer to add a bit of crunch. We throw in some spinach too, and everyone wins!

Most days we head over to daycare after this. If I have classes or clients scheduled I sometimes drive him, but if my morning is open I prefer to walk. It takes about 20 minutes each way, and is a great 40 minutes of movement, which I really enjoy. Sometimes I call a friend I want to catch up with, which is always fun.

I did 15 minutes of yoga once I was back home. This often feels good, but since we had had a surprise wake up to a fire alarm going off in the middle of the night, it was extra nice to do something calming and help bring me out of that stress response mode that the alarm had triggered for me.

Definitely a nice way to start my day! After I showered, I started my work day. There were a few back to back calls coming up, and I knew I was already feeling a little hungry, so I grabbed a nut butter bar so I could eat quickly. The hunger was there, and I had a snack on hand that would keep me from getting hangry and ravenous!

Quick Tip:

When you’re feeling super hungry, your body wants to be fed NOW, which often leads to eating whatever is in arm’s reach. That doesn’t always make your body feel super great, even though it technically takes away the hunger. As part of my intuitive eating journey, I’ve learned to pay close attention to hunger signals, and also keep food around that I can enjoy and get fueled by.

For lunch, I ate leftovers from the night before, which I wanted. Sometimes we crave leftovers because they are great (or because they are so easy), and that’s awesome! You don’t have to spend a lot of time planning or prepping to do intuitive eating.

Due to the poor night’s sleep, I took a nap. Pushing through and forcing myself to do more work was an option, but I don’t tend to produce my best results that way. One of the plus sides of working from home is that you CAN honor your body’s needs in that way. Woohoo!

I woke up and had a bit of chocolate, because I really wanted it. Usually I have some sort of dessert every day. I don’t question it, and I truly enjoy it.

Then I headed out for a full grocery run. Since one of my goals is to be more sustainable, I had fun using my reusable grocery bags and shopping from a store with bulk bins!

We had dinner at my in-laws, and it was so nice!

Quick Tip:

As an intuitive eater, I didn’t have to stress about what they would be serving. I’m a busy mom, and this meal was made for me and required no prep! Definitely enjoyed that, and didn’t have to stress about anything.

Came home and mediated, did my journaling, and ended things with my book once again.

Day 3 – A Day in the Life: Weekend Fun Times

Once a year my mom’s friends meet for a brunch. As my mom has passed away, I’m invited every year. It’s such a blessing to be able to attend this now that we’re back from Switzerland.

This particular venue is known for it’s Irish coffee, but I’m not a coffee fan. I usually get a peppermint Schnapps hot chocolate instead, but this time around I’ve been decreasing my milk consumption. I’ve realize that when I consume milk my body is not a fan. A little here or there works out for me, but a whole cup full wasn’t going to feel great.

Instead, I got a mimosa. I’m not usually a big fan of drinking during the day, but I got it because I wanted to feel a part of the group. In one way I stood up for my own needs (not getting a drink I don’t like) and in another I compromised a bit (ordering a drink during the day, even though I normally wouldn’t). 

Quick Tip:

Part of intuitive eating is learning when to take action for yourself and your needs, and when it might feel good to make a decision that’s more about joining in or being a part of something. No guilt is necessary, and you can make decisions like this on a case-by-case basis. (There are no “rules” to break!)

Everyone else got egg’s Benedict, but I don’t do eggs. Instead, I got a sandwich. It was good, but it was also really big, so I didn’t eat all of it.

Quick Tip:

In years past, if I was eating something heavy and filling and “off-diet”, I would have eaten as much as possible because I would have known I was going to compensate for it later by restricting even more foods. That leads to overeating and later restricting, which is a rough cycle! When I know I don’t have to “pay” for eating good food that I enjoy, I don’t feel like I have to gorge while I have the chance.

I enjoyed the sandwich because it was really good, and I didn’t feel guilty about a single bite. And when I was full, I didn’t feel obligated to keep eating either.

During brunch, botox came up, and there was a lot of conversation about how many women are doing it. It seems crazy to me how accpeted it is! It’s been normalized because diet culture and the beauty industry has shown that we are “supposed” to make an effort to look a certain way.

Quick Tip:

You don’t need to follow those rules! Aging gracefully is beautiful, and you don’t have to inject yourself with chemicals to conform to a certain standard. Ask yourself what YOU truly want, rather than just accepting what you’ve been conditioned to want.

Afterwards we did a bit of walking around, and even got to sample some great chocolate. Once I get home I took a quick nap, then enjoyed the afternoon with my son.

As dinner rolled around, I was planning to make pasta, but Cooper did not want that. We had tuna casserole in the fridge, which seemed easy and quick. However, I had to ask myself if I actually wanted that casserole for dinner.

Quick Tip:

Sometimes when we choose food just because it is available or easy, we end up feeling less than satisfied, which then leads us to keep eating so that we can get the satisfaction we desired. Rather than snack the rest of the night because I had chosen an easy dinner I didn’t really want, I wanted to be sure that the casserole would satisfy me.

How? Well, I took a bite and really considered it. If I could tell it wasn’t going to satisfy me, I would have let Cooper have that and still made the pasta I had planned on making. My sample bite was enough to let me know that I would enjoy the tuna, however!

Quick Tip:

It’s just about checking in and being sure you actually want the food you’re sitting down to eat.

After dinner Cooper and I each shared a piece of chocolate, then we headed to bed.

Over the rest of the weekend I did some meal prep and prepared freezer meals, opted out of yoga because I knew I was going to be on my feet a lot, and did a bit more grazing (due to the meal prepping) rather than full sit down meals. It felt good, and I had lots of fun!

A few big themes that characterized my days:

Checking in with myself a lot about what I want to eat.

Thinking about how I want to move my body every day.

Prioritizing mediation, journaling, gratitude, and self-care every day.

Join the Food Freedom and Body Confidence Challenge and learn what intuitive eating could look like for you!

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