Hello beautiful humans! I am currently propped up in bed, listening to DJ Drez, sipping rose tea + burning the yummiest vanilla incense. This is Friday night at my house... and I LOVE it. I crawled into bed to crack open a new Ayurvedic Cookbook that I just purchased, only to be instantly flooded with inspiration to write this blog post.
If you've been following me and the evolution of my business, you know that I've made it my mission to empower individuals to have a healthy + nourishing relationship with food. The way I believe this is best done is through an intuitive eating approach. But what exactly does intuitive eating mean? I receive quite a few comments on various Instagram posts asking, "how do I trust my intuition when my body is telling me it wants sugar?" or "how do I tell the difference between cravings and what my body actually needs?" These are all completely valid questions that I wanted to address in a post and also provide some simple tips to begin an intuitive eating practice.
Let's begin by defining intuition. Your intuition is essentially your inner knowing. It doesn't come from overthinking or being stuck in your head, rather, it's an instinctive feeling. Taping into this is a practice and it doesn't necessary become your norm overnight. That said, the best place to begin is to simply follow what feels charming + good, as opposed to reasoning your way through a decision. When we begin to translate this practice into our food choices it is SO powerful. So much anxiety and stress revolving around food is due to an overactive mind. The overwhelming amount of nutrition + health advise we have access to becomes noisy + distracting, making this practice even harder. When I work with clients, a lot of our time together is spent "unlearning" all of the information they've acquired + all of the conditioning they've become accustom to over the years. We drop all diets, dogmas and rules, as no one formula can fit all.
Don't get me wrong, looking up to various experts in the field of health + wellness is great. But making all decisions regarding your diet based on what somebody else says you should do or based on what has worked for another person is not the most supportive approach. And ultimately, it doesn't give you the freedom to be true to YOU and your bio-individual needs.
Now, as someone who is new to the whole intuitive eating thing, it can be difficult to discern between an intuitive pull toward a specific food or meal and a strong craving. For this reason, I put all of my clients on an elimination reset protocol which serves to balance their body, properly positioning them to be able to trust their instinctual needs. For instance, if one is experiencing candida overgrowth, a bacteria overgrowth that feeds off of sugar, and the body is craving copious amounts of fruits, grains, pastas + starch, this isn't intuitive, this is a craving stemming from a biochemical imbalance. We first have to reset + balance the system so that we can get clear on what is truly supportive.
TIPS FOR BEGINNING AN INTUITIVE EATING PRACTICE:
Stabilize blood sugar - if your blood sugar isn't stable, you will have a hard time resisting sugar cravings. Be sure every meal AND SNACK you eat is balanced with some fat + protein to keep blood sugar regulated.
Eat enough - if you never truly fill up from a meal, you'll find it challenging to tune in to what your body really needs. Don't skimp on calories. Eat and enjoy until you feel satiated.
Come from the mindset that food is in abundance - if you've ever restricted your diet, I'm certain you've experienced the other extreme of occasional (or more frequent) binge eating. This often stems from a subconscious belief that there will not be enough food in the future. Why? because the body has experienced restriction + deprivation, which always lends itself to a binge at some point. Enjoy peace of mind knowing that food is in abundance. Give yourself the freedom to eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel satiated.
Clean up your diet - this should be obvious, but often times there is a phase in which we may need to be slightly more 'strict' with our diet in order to clean up + let go of what isn't serving us. If we are ruled by our cravings, we'll never reach a place of listening + honoring what our body needs. My approach with my clients typically consists of removing common allergens, in addition to sugar, vegetable oils and processed foods. Getting back to REAL + whole foods is what's most natural + intuitive to the body.
Practice presence - when it comes to eating + PREPARING food, create space for presence. If that means you have to wake up 15 minutes earlier to make a nourishing breakfast, do it. It is important that we give ourselves the time to be intentional + tune in, rather than running out the door with a banana and a cup of coffee. Prep some foods at the beginning of the week so that you have options. If you've worked on stabilizing your blood sugar, you shouldn't come home after a long day completely ravenous and therefore, you'll have the time to choose mindfully what it is your body wants. I like to go to the store at the beginning of the week and pick which foods stand out to me. I then do a little prep, which makes putting together good meals, effortless. I have options and I feel inspired to create something delicious at every meal, knowing that it won't take a lot of thinking or time.
Don't over complicate things - as far removed as we are from our intuition, it really isn't all that complicated. It's easy to overthink it... but really, stay simple. When you're at the store, looking at the different produce, what are you drawn to? Go with that. When you're at home making a meal, don't go down the path of counting or measuring calories + qualities, stay innocent and open. Like I said, it takes practice. The more we can trust our body + learn to honor it, the more we develop into our greatest health asset + advocate.
We've given our power away to diets... and guess what?! It hasn't been successful! 95% of people who lose weight on a weight loss diet gain that weight back. I believe that intuitive eating is the future of the diet industry. So rather than torturing yourself trying to be perfect, give yourself the freedom to stay curious about your food. Know that the way you eat will vary from day to day, week to week, year to year.. don't put yourself in a box for the sake of a label.