Intuitive Eating: Your Bio-Individual Roadmap To Health & Vitality
With a zillion diets on the market, and each claiming to be the best, it’s no wonder that we land in a great deal of confusion about what to eat and what is the best fuel for our bodies.
Have you ever adopted a way of eating only to fail miserably at its dictates? Have you ever been told that eating avocados every day is THE thing you should be doing but one bite into a slice of the pitted fruit and it tastes hideous to you?
I remember years ago when my first interests in nutrition were flowering, I decided that I was going to be a vegetarian. I was no longer going to put meat into my body because everything I was reading at that time told me that meat was bad and a vegetarian lifestyle was optimal.
Fast-forward 3 months into my vegetarian diet, where I was doing everything ‘right.’ I was combining my proteins, I was downing tons of fresh water, I was drinking smoothies every morning. I was a walking post card for the vegetarian movement!
And yet, my energy was starting to wane. I actually gained weight. And my Crohn’s symptoms, which hadn’t made an appearance in years, were starting to knock on my door again.
How could this be possible? Wasn’t I eating the BEST DIET IN THE WORLD?
One night while out for dinner with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, I was slumped at the table while everyone looked at me in concern. My sister suggested that I order the chicken. “No way!” I protested. I was a vegetarian now! And yet, I looked like shit and felt worse.
Despite my rumblings of protest, I ordered the chicken. Within 20 minutes of my meal, I felt like a completely different person. I was no longer slumped; my energy came tumbling back in and I actually felt happy in my body. I hadn’t felt that good in months.
When we attempt to eat, move, live or even think in a way that doesn’t align with our actual needs or desires, it simply doesn’t work. Someone could tell you 1000 reasons why you should be doing something, eating something, or living in a certain way, but if it’s not in the books for you, it won’t fly.
So how do we come to know what floats our boat? Is there a magic formula that we can follow? In a way, yes.
It’s called Intuitive Eating.
Intuitive Eating is about taking a week out of your life and shifting the way you feel about, prepare and eat your food. It is about becoming completely aligned with what your body needs in order to thrive and even heal.
It is about redefining your relationship with desire itself to uncover what you really, really want and what you really need.
When we become intuitively aligned with our bodies’ needs and desires, we become an unstoppable force that is full of appropriate fuel. We begin to distinguish between feeling full and satisfied and feeling empty and always hungry for more.
It is about recognizing what foods we are addicted to (hint: those are usually the foods that we have to have every day) vs. what foods our bodies actually need.
When we start to ask ourselves, “Why am I eating right now? Am I actually hungry for food or am I bored? Is my body calling out for nutrients right now or am I feeling lonely and emotionally undernourished?”
In our time of plenty, we’ve made the mistake of using food to fill in the gaps of our emotional emptiness. When we can tune into what is really going on inside of us, when we can meet our feelings right where they exist than we don’t have to medicate ourselves with food. Food, then, becomes what it was always intended for: nourishment.
Here are some simple questions to ask yourself in order to deepen a healthy relationship with food:
- Am I really hungry right now or is something else going on? (i.e. boredom, frustration, loneliness, overwhelm, fatigue, sadness)
- Did what I eat make me feel better? In other words, did it satisfy my hunger? Did it infuse me with energy? Do I feel clear-headed?
- Did what I eat make me feel worse? Do I feel bloated? Tired? Anxious? Uncomfortable?
- Did I eat without distractions (TV, computer, too much noise)? And was I able to sit with how the food really tasted to me? Did the texture feel good to me? Did the temperature feel right? Did I chew for long enough that I was able to really determine whether I liked what I was eating?
- If I’ve been strongly identifying with a particular style of eating (i.e. vegan, paleo, macrobiotic, carb-lover, etc…), can I be very present for my next several meals to see that this style is still serving me?
Our relationship with food is a complex but important one. It is the fuel for our bodies and minds. Our food choices have the ability to heal us or make us sick. Don’t rely on outside sources to inform your eating style or decisions. Go within. Your body is biologically individual. Once you can uncover what best makes you tick, then the vitality steps in and you can thrive.
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