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Intuitive Eating Habits
Author/Service Provider:Sarah Thomsen

Eating the right amount for your body intuitively can be difficult in a culture where we are surrounded by persuasive food ads and constant access to thousands of food products. Determining what and when to eat is a developed skill, a result of intentional mindfulness when planning meals and while eating.

Recognize Hunger
Hunger is the body's natural signal to eat! WebMD ranks hunger on a scale from 1 to 10, with symptoms of extreme number 1 being "starving, weak, dizzy" and symptoms of number 10 being "so full you feel sick." Getting in touch with your personal hunger signals means learning to eat until you are comfortably full and no further. Web MD even suggests learning to live with some hunger pangs as part of being a healthy eater, only letting yourself eat when you rate your hunger as a 3 or 4, when you are physically feeling hungry and not just having cravings. Practice letting cravings fade instead of fulfilling them in the absence of hunger.

Emotional Eating
Mayo Clinic professionals discuss how eating can become impulsive and pleasure-less in the face of disappointment, stress or anger. Emotional eating can be a continuous downward spiral as emotions trigger overeating, overeating triggers guilt and guilt triggers more overeating. To regain control, weight loss professionals give suggestions for eating intuitively instead of impulsively: Don't keep your "go-to" high-fat high-sugar foods in the house, don't completely deprive yourself of things you really want, snack on low-fat, low-calorie items when you are not very hungry, reduce your general level of stress and seek therapy if having a difficult time keeping the destructive cycle of guilt under control.

Highly Processed Foods
Avoid foods that can "reprogram" your ability to sense real hunger. The experts behind the South Beach Diet warn that "nutrient-dense foods stimulate satiety signals, while most junk food and highly processed foods stimulate hunger signals." Simply, that means low-cal but nutritious foods like veggies and fruit help to keep your signals regular and keep you more satisfied, often partly from a higher fiber content. On the other hand, high-calorie, super-sweet foods encourage you to keep eating. David Kessler, author of "The End of Overeating," attributes the phenomenon in some people to brain regions that make eating those foods seem almost irresistibly pleasurable after the foods are eaten constantly.

Portion Control
Eating your way to health intuitively means eating intelligently. In order to eat the right amount of calories for your body, fortify yourself with clear knowledge about what a proper portion size entails. Get out the measuring cups and look at packaging, learning exactly what the serving size on the side panel is and how many calories are in that serving. Once proper portions are determined, recognize that those smaller amounts of food can help keep you satisfied and away from desperate hunger or excessive fullness. When you are excessively hungry, it is difficult to be mindful and so much easier to desperately overeat. Throughout the day, fuel your body with plenty of portion-controlled nutritious foods.