Intuitive eating is an approach to food (and overall health) that doesn’t revolve around diets, meal plans or willpower. The focus of intuitive eating is to simply learn to pay better attention to the signs your body sends you about hunger and fullness. This may not be the ideal path to health for all people, but it’s one that many choose to explore these days. We pulled together some tips on intuitive eating for those interested in giving it a try.

Put Down the Diet Books

Intuitive eating does mean that you’ll need to at least take a break from the trendy diets that restrict certain things. Obviously this doesn’t mean you should suddenly eat foods that your doctor says is bad for a health condition or that you’re allergic to, of course.

There Won’t Be a Meal Plan

Do you like the structure of a meal plan? Intuitive eating will mean taking a break from one that has a firm structure to it.

No Off-Limit Foods

Again, this doesn’t mean eating the foods that you’re allergic to or that you can’t eat for medical reasons. But it does mean abandoning the low-carb/fat/etc trains.

Focus On Nutrition

This means that your goal is to try to get enough of the main nutrients your body needs, not simply fewer calories overall.

Aim for Variety

If you’re experimenting with intuitive eating, it’s a great time to learn more about how certain foods make you feel and which ones lead to fullness.

Think in Terms of Hunger & Fullness

Stop thinking in terms of calorie allotments and prescribed meal times. While it’s convenient to get hungry at lunchtime, it’s not always how your body is going to work.

Think About Fullness

It can be difficult for many people to really track the different stages of feeling full until they’ve hit the point of being stuffed. Try reminding yourself that there will always be more food later, so what you eat now only needs to be dictated by your level of fullness. You actually need to follow through on this, though! When you’re hungry later, take that as a sign to eat.

Mindful Eating

It’s tough to keep track of fullness when we’re distracted while we eat. As much as you can, remove those distractions and focus on how you feel.

Fulfill Cravings

When you’re craving something, try to actually fulfill it. The first few times may feel like a free-for-all, but one of the possible benefits of intuitive eating is that you can train your mind out of the scarcity diet mentality.

Notice Your Thoughts

If you’ve been on and off diets for most of your life, you’re likely going to have plenty of negative thoughts along the way. Make mental note of them and think about where they’re coming from.