Intuitive Eating- Because nutrition isn’t “one size fits all”
What is intuitive eating and how will it help you feel and look better? Quite simply, it’s a matter of listening to your body and learning what works for you. Every person is different. We don’t all metabolize carbohydrates in the same manner, nor do we all have the same amount of muscle mass. Nor do we all have the same activity levels!
We also don’t have the same digestive systems. What I can easily eat may not work for you. A good example of this is flax seeds. I just can’t handle much of it…if I have too much I get horrible stomach pains. But other people (mainly vegans) routinely use “flax eggs” in place of regular eggs and they don’t suffer for it.
By utilizing intuitive eating, you will eat foods that your body needs which in turn will lead to you feeling (and looking!) better.
Questions to ask yourself to help you eat intuitively:
With intuitive eating, you simply need to listen to your body and check in.
- Am I really sluggish?
- Do I feel well-rested after a good night’s sleep??
- Am I digesting my foods well?
- Craving something in particular, such as a burger or a salad?
- How do I feel after I eat a certain food?
- How much variety is in my diet? Do I try new foods often, or eat the same thing every day?
- Am I using common sense, or am I overriding my intuition and giving power to some other authority?
How do you feel when you eat something? Or don’t eat something?
Paleo eaters don’t consume legumes. Man, I sure do love legumes in moderation! Roasted chickpeas, hummus (traditional or black bean hummus) and refried beans…YUM!
You know why I don’t care about what the Paleo Gods say and I continue to eat legumes?
Because they don’t bother my stomach! I listen to my body when I eat chickpeas. They are tasty and wonderful and my stomach doesn’t give me crap about it! (Well, maybe it does. ;-))
I also eat grains very often, especially in the morning (and always if I have a tennis match that day). If I don’t I feel like I’m stuck in mud and I’m just not very speedy. I can lift heavier weights, but can’t do metabolic. Through trial and error I have found that a serving of starchy carbs in the morning gets me going! (this is typically oatmeal, high protein, high quality cereal, or even waffle made with organic, high quality flour or oat flour).
Another one is white rice. I once read where a very popular Paleo blogger wrote about how happy she was that white rice was now considered “allowed” and I wondered, “Who is this Paleo God that is decreeing who can eat what?”. People: If you love rice and it doesn’t bother you, then eat it when you want it! As long as you still feel good (meaning, eating it doesn’t bother your stomach) and it falls in line with how many calories you want to consume, what’s the big deal? You are the boss of your body. It’s good to continue to educate yourself regarding nutrition, but if you love and enjoy something that does have nutritional value (in other words, this doesn’t apply to cookies, cake,etc) and it doesn’t bother you, then don’t put someone else’s opinion over your own gut feeling. Speaking of…
Ever wonder where that term comes from? Because we often feel intuition in our gut. You know what happens when we don’t listen? Our gut hurts. We feel “off”. This absolutely applies with your food choices. It gives “listen to your gut” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?
But I really love _____ (insert fave food here) and I want to eat it, but it hurts my stomach!
Take a break from it. Give your body a chance to recover from whatever is bothering it, and then come back after a few weeks and see how you do. If it still bothers you, you may need to cut that food out of your diet or just know that you’ll feel uncomfortable after you eat it. I love sweets (especially cupcakes!) but honestly, all that sugar is not good for the gut and I often feel bloated after eating sweets. I understand and accept this as the trade-off for that blissful moment that I shared with the cupcake. 😉
Moderation, Moderation, Moderation
In case you haven’t guessed, I believe in moderation. 🙂
Moderation is absolutely key. I love the Blueberry Cinnamon Flax Cereal from Nature’s Path but the flax kills my stomach. I have to eat small portions (half a bowl) or take a break every couple of days. I’m not going to eat big portions of beans and cabbage too many days in a row, either.
There’s no need to completely cut something out unless eating it really causes distress (from allergies, Celiac disease, etc). Practice intuitive eating and listen….if it makes you uncomfortable too many times or even after a break, then you probably do need to let it go and stop consuming it, whatever “it” is!
The body evolves and changes, and so should the foods you eat
There were so many things that I loved that I couldn’t eat while pregnant. And I’m not talking about how you instantly decide something is disgusting while pregnant (chicken, anyone?). I’m talking about foods I consumed often before I became pregnant that suddenly started causing wicked, horrible stomach pains. I had to eliminate those foods from my diet (in case you are wondering, it was flax, nuts and seeds that I just could. not. handle!) I didn’t even bother trying to add them back until I was a few months postpartum. It wasn’t worth the pain.
So the message here is to listen, listen, listen. Your body is talking to you! Try and connect the dots if you are having issues.
Inflammation and other allergies
Certain foods that heal inflammation and there are certain foods than can cause it. That is an entire other blog post, although you should know that sugar, refined flour, fried foods, and often dairy are major culprits here. If you have body pains from inflammation, check yourself- are you eating highly inflammatory foods on a regular basis?
Also pay attention to allergies. I was breaking out into weird itchy hives (I thought they were mosquito bites at first) and it wasn’t until I got the flu one time and my husband brought me broth from the nearby Vietnamese restaurant that I was able to trace the hives back to MSG. I might not have ever figured it out except that the broth was the only thing I consumed while sick and I had just read about MSG causing hives. Interesting, right?
Kids already practice intuitive eating
Anyone with kids knows this…they love something one day, and the next day they refuse to eat it. It’s annoying to the parent who made their food, but it’s a healthy response from the child to follow their instincts.
Your body needs you to listen in order to thrive
A final note- try to eat slowly and enjoy your food. Eliminate distractions and check in with your body after you eat to hear what it’s telling you. Do you feel Energized? Crampy? Tired? Still hungry?
Remember to check in before you eat- is your body asking for something? Or asking you to take a break from a certain food?
It’s about what your body needs to thrive, and you are the gatekeeper of that information.
So what do you think? Are you listening to your body? Share your thoughts in the comments below!