Tag Archives: intuitive eating

Choosing Not to Diet Doesn’t Mean that You Don’t Care About Your Health

If you decide to give up dieting it does not mean you are choosing to be unhealthy. They are not one and the same.

In this country, to be a woman and say that you’re not currently dieting is to make yourself an outlier. People will wonder what’s “wrong” with you and what “secret” you must have in order to not do this. It’s so normal to always be on a diet and always be “watching” what we eat that people who dare to say they’re not going to do it anymore are a touch weird, maybe even a little scary, right? It’s like that scene in Office Space, when Ron Livingston’s character Peter Gibbons tells Joanna, a cute waitress he’s having lunch with (played by Jennifer Anniston) that he doesn’t think he’s going to go to his job anymore. He doesn’t like it and he’s just not going to go.

Watch the scene here:

The idea that someone is just not going to go to their job (and not planning on getting another one and doesn’t seem worried about it) is such a foreign a concept in our society that Joanna asks him question after question in an effort to figure him out. You can see the confusion and shock on her face (that she hides with humor) as she tries to understand his angle. But there isn’t one. Thankfully they bond over kung fu movies and can move on from the confusing job subject.

What I think confuses people most when you say you’re not dieting is that they think that means you are going to throw all concerns of health out the window, that if you’re not intensely watching what you eat (like it’s out to get you!) based on some form of restriction, that you can’t possibly care about your health or be doing other things that contribute to being healthy.

That’s all crazily wrong. And it comes from a deeply held belief that dieting equals health. We think losing weight always means a healthier person.

That’s just not true.

Dieting does not automatically make you healthy.

Reducing your size does not always equal better health. There are plenty of people out there dropping pounds using incredibly unhealthy measures – eating crap food, over-exercising or taking dangerous speed-like supplements to reduce their appetites. And if you think there are no negative consequences to weight loss, you are misinformed. Here are just a few health consequences that can come from dieting:

  • Fast weight loss can have big health consequences like gallstones
  • Fast weight loss increases loss of muscle mass
  • the pressures weight loss ideals put on us can lead to eating disorders
  • weight loss can lead to bone loss (this is even more pronounced in women who are in early menopause)
  • yo-yo dieting increases the risk of death, heart attack, diabetes and stroke for people with heart disease.

And that’s not really touching on the mental and emotional risks that can come with dieting. A whole culture full of dieters is so concerned with what they are putting in their mouths and the size / shape of their bodies that they can’t live and enjoy their lives. They feel stressed out, depressed, anxious and alone for a huge chunk of their lives. Why?? Because they’re trying to squeeze into a socially accepted idea of what a body is supposed to look like and the only way to get there is to do the opposite of what their bodies naturally want to do – eat and be nourished. That’s a big burden to carry emotionally for years and even decades of one’s life.

If dieting doesn’t automatically give us good health, then we have to realize that the reverse is also likely true. Not dieting doesn’t mean you don’t care about your health and it doesn’t mean that you can’t be healthy. I’m not discounting the science that shows that our weight contributes to certain health conditions (or makes them worse). I’m just asking you to think about the fact that not everyone who is overweight is a couch potato who is eating nothing but twinkies all day long and that there are plenty of slender people who have a lifestyle that is unhealthy.

There are a ton of ways you can not diet and still live the healthiest life possible.

I can list some of them for you below, but to be really clear and brief as possible – it’s really simple!! You can live a healthy life by doing all the things the supposedly “healthy dieters” do but without dieting. Same stuff, minus one thing (we remove weight loss as the motivator).

Move your body. Do it frequently and choose things that bring you joy. It should feel good (and it’s ok if it’s really hard at first or is hard on some days and easy on others). Do things you enjoy doing – it doesn’t have to be exercise for the sake of exercise. It can be play (outside with the kids, playing frisbee, rollerskating, dancing, charades etc). It can be meditation (walking, hiking, yoga. It can be competitive (sports, races etc). It can be high intensity (like HIIT, running, boxing etc) or it can low intensity (pilates, yoga, tai chi etc). It can be the stuff you just have to get done (gardening, yard work, house work etc). It can be restorative (stretching, yin yoga, foam rolling etc). Don’t think too much about whether you’re doing the right stuff. Work your body hard when it wants to be worked hard, be gentle when it asks for gentle. The important thing is moving frequently and safely for your particular body and choosing things that will keep you able to be as active as you want to be for your whole life.

Eat trusting your body and it’s knowledge. Your body knows exactly how much to eat for it’s needs. It also knows what foods make it feels great and what makes it feel terrible. It knows how to take the foods we eat and use it to nourish, repair and replenish our body so we can live another day. Dieting removes our ability to feel this trust and intuition (so if you’re in a place where you think you need dieting because you can’t trust yourself – you are not alone!) but it is something that we are born with and you can get back there with a bit of work and time (contact me if you need some help with this).

This doesn’t mean we discount nutrition. Just because you’re choosing to walk away from the dieting lifestyle and mentality, doesn’t mean you don’t eat with some awareness of nutrition. Choosing to listen to your body means just that – listening to your body. You may think your body is telling you that it wants to eat cupcakes all day, every day but that’s really your mind telling you that. It’s the mind of someone who’s been told their whole lives that cupcakes are bad, fat is bad and that they’re bad if they eat them. When you’re not dieting and no food group is off limits or “bad”, those foods that previously made you feel out of control, now feel much more neutral. When you know you CAN have something if you want it, it’s got a bit less appeal and power than something you CAN’T have. Eating from a more trusting and intuitive place means eating a wide variety of foods, prepared various ways. It means enjoying food but also not letting that enjoyment override the nutritional needs of your body.

I LOVE chocolate, tortilla chips, cheese and ice cream but I also LOVE fresh and cooked vegetables and in general I prefer how whole foods make me feel for the majority of my diet. I can only say that because I have given myself full permission to eat whatever I truly want. Ironically, what I want most days are the foods that make me feel great (and the foods that make me feel great are primarily nutritious). I figure out what’s right for me meal by meal, by asking “What would make me feel best in this moment?”. It’s always changing.

As much as eating too much of any one type of food can be unhealthy, try to remember that being afraid to eat entire categories of food all the time is equally unhealthy (on a mental and emotional level). Trust that your body does know what it needs (the real question is: Are you listening?).

Make managing stress a priority. Stress is one of the biggest causes of health issues in this country and yet we choose to brush it under the rug and ignore it unless we hit crisis mode. Because it’s a tangible thing to do, it’s much easier to manipulate our food intake under the guise of “health” through weight loss than it is to regularly take part in self-care activities that reduce stress. Stress is a part of everyone’s life – there is no getting around it – but we’ve come to see it as badge of honor to brag about how we can keep soldiering on despite how stressful our lives are. This is not healthy, sexy or something to be proud of. It’s way healthier to find a handful of things that bring you real stress relief and make them a priority. You don’t need to lose weight to do that.

Commit to loving and accepting yourself as you are. Not the person you were 10 years ago (though you should love her too). Not the person you’d be if you got that promotion or if you do finally fit into those jeans. Not the person you wish you were more like. You. As you are. In the body you are in right now with all her flaws, beauty, stretch marks, strong muscles, cellulite, freckles, acne, unmanageable hair, imperfect teeth or whatever else you think is a problem. It’s way healthier to be in a larger body that you love and care for than in a smaller body that is hated, distrusted and shamed. Do whatever you can to be more accepting, loving and tolerant of the body you are in and the person you are. She’s all you have (this is something we can work on together too) and if you’re good to her she will repay you back tenfold.

A few others healthy things that will contribute to your health that have nothing to do with the size of your body . . . Take supplements if needed (a nutritious and varied diet helps but sometimes we need a little help). Get regular check ups. Work on your thinking (if everything is negative? Why? What role could you be playing in that?). Have sex regularly (you don’t need a partner) and work to make it more fulfilling if you’re not happy with it right now. Give and receive human touch (even more important if you are single – make room for massage and be a hugger! We all need the physical connection. Reflect on your life with gratitude. Foster social connections that nourish and make your life feel balanced.

The healthiest people in this world are healthy because of a variety of factors, not just due to the size of their body.

I’m not writing this to make you feel bad about a history of dieting, your current diet or even your desire to seek out another diet (God knows that I have been on as many as the next person). Instead, I just want you to think about some stuff:

  • What problem dieting is actually, truly solving for you? And has it been able to solve that problem in the past?
  • Might there possibly be other things you can do to be healthy that are separate from intentionally manipulating your size?
  • What would your life look like if you weren’t always watching what you ate?
  • Can you have the life you want without changing your weight? Why or why not?

Hey I know it’s tough to change your relationship to food on your own. That’s why I created You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food using different qualities you already have. Download your copy at the link here.

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How to Start Eating More Mindfully

Mindful eating uses all of our senses.

Eating mindfully means using all of your senses to experience each meal.

Look at the photo above. Let’s pretend we’re about to sit down in front of that plate and eat this meal. What is the first thing you notice before you even pick up the fork? For me, it’s that I’m already salivating at the thought of that crispy and buttery waffle hitting my tongue. I can actually smell the maple syrup and the toasty smell of the waffle browning in the waffle iron even though this is just a picture. I can feel the cool crisp contrast of the tart strawberries and the sweet velvety whipped cream in my mouth, and again, this is just in my mind. I can hear the crunch as my fork presses down to carve a bite out of the waffle. A clink as it hits the plate. The maple syrup has gotten onto the stem of the fork and it’s slightly sticky. Just by looking at this photo, all of my senses can anticipate what they’d experience if only this waffle was really sitting in front of me. This is how we begin to eat mindfully, by being totally present and using our senses to experience food.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 5 – 10 years, you’ve probably heard of the term “Mindful Eating” as a solution to weight loss. It’s an alternative for those who’ve tried diets and gained the weight back, for those who still struggle with their weight despite trying to eat the right things. I have had great success using it in my own life, after growing tired of the diet mindset that left my weight going up and down and I now help other women incorporate tools like mindful eating into their own life.

It’s not for everyone and it’s not easy (despite how the practices below may sound) but if you are exhausted from trying to lose weight and keep it off by counting calories, points, and fat grams, and you know that it’s not working for you – mindful eating might be something to consider.

Today I’m going to share two of the main mindful eating practices I use but first let’s talk briefly about why diets often fail us.

 

Diets Fail Us

Overeating is the most obvious cause of weight gain and diets are awesome at managing the physical component of this – the “what” part. What should I eat? How much should I eat? Most weight gain is due to taking in more calories than our bodies are able to use. The calories we don’t use end up being stored as fat. Diets take those math equations and assume we are robots who can and will do exactly as they prescribe forever without any obstacles.

The problem with diets is that they fail to address the emotional and mental components of overeating. You may understand on a mental level that you have gained weight because you have eaten more over a long period of time than your body needs but we rarely understand why we are doing that. Why are we overeating? Diets act as if this part of the equation doesn’t exist. Again, like we’re obedient robots, instead of humans who do things for a variety of reasons.

If we can address why we are overeating in the first place, we can reduce how often it happens. If overeating is less of an issue, weight gain is not going to be much of a problem anymore.

There are several reasons why we overeat, one of them I addressed in How to Feel Your Feelings. Another reason is because of how mindlessly we eat (and how mindlessly we go through life in general). We eat too fast, with too many distractions and we’re not present when we consume a meal. With our senses not taking in the meal and at the speed we eat, our brain doesn’t receive signals it needs (from our stomach as well as sensually) that we’ve had enough to eat. Living this way makes it challenging to ever feel satisfied after a meal – we’re always left wanting more, even if we are physically full. Mindful eating is a practice that can help bring us back to the present and quell the urge to overeat because it connects the dots between the brain and our stomach, helping us to feel satisfied.

Now we’ll get down to it!

 

Two Big Mindful Eating Practices to Try

1. Start treating mealtimes as if you were meeting with a old friend you haven’t seen in years.

If you were super excited to see this friend, you would give her your full attention! Your eyes would take all of her in the moment you saw her (does she look the same? totally different?). You’d give her a hug and the smell of her perfume would bring you back to another time. The sound of her laugh would make you feel completely at home. You wouldn’t dream of multitasking, checking email or reading while spending time with her, would you? Omg, no that would be so rude!!! Do the same thing when you eat, every time.

Give the meal your full attention.

Be completely present with the food in front of you.

Don’t do anything other than eat – no multitasking. That means put your smartphone away, turn off the TV, don’t read the newspaper or a book, don’t eat in the car (unless it’s absolutely necessary).

Don’t distract yourself.

Use all your senses: Look at the food in front of you (is it colorful? textured?), Smell it (does it have a strong aroma? pleasant? pungent?), Does it make any sounds? Is your plate sizzling hot? Does the food crunch when you chew it?, Taste: Do you like how it tastes? Is it sweet, salty, sour, bitter or savory? Feel: How does the food feel in your mouth? Is it too hot or cold? What is the texture like? Smooth, silky, rough, crumbly? Other things to notice: when you see or smell the food, do you notice saliva forming in your mouth? Are you excited to eat this meal? Are you actually hungry? If you were going to describe this meal to an alien from another planet, how would you describe it to them?

 

2. Learn the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger, commit to eating only when you feel physical hunger and get into the habit of talking to yourself.

Physical hunger comes on slowly, emotional hunger feels urgent (gotta have it now!!).

Physical hunger can be satisfied with anything (you’re willing to eat broccoli or a salad), emotional hunger will only be satisfied by something specific (I want something sweet!).

Physical hunger goes away when you’ve eaten, emotional hunger hangs around even when you’re very full.

Eating to satisfy physical hunger feels neutral, while eating to satisfy emotional hunger will bring up feelings of guilt and shame.

Start practicing trying to eat only when you feel physical hunger. This will probably be the hardest thing to do – that’s ok, just start noticing the difference between the two and becoming conscious of the choice you make (no judgements).

Sounds easy enough to figure out which is which, right? But it’s not so simple when you’re in the moment. When you feel emotionally hungry, all you can think about is “how can I get my hands on something that will satisfy this?”.  The way I work around that urge is to have a conversation with myself. I ask myself  “What would make me feel best in this moment?” and then I really listen closely to the answer before I actually respond to the craving.

If it’s physical hunger, I have the consciousness to choose something that is nutritious for my body (hard boiled eggs, quinoa salad, a banana and peanut butter etc).

If it’s emotional hunger, the question leaves room for an answer that is something other than food. Notice I don’t ask “What do I want to eat?” If I did that and it’s emotional hunger, I am going to sabotage the shit out of myself with a bag of doritos. Asking what would make me feel best in this moment? opens the door for that emotional urge to be expressed in another way.

Believe it or not but most of the time, the true answer to this question will be something other than food – it might be a hug, a nap, a phone call to a friend, a walk, some time spent journaling, a long bath and a good book etc. Your emotions want to be felt and expressed and if they had the option, food wouldn’t be their first choice in expression, so help them out by asking them something that will bring out other answers.

Occasionally you’ll ask this question and even when listening closely for the answer, it will be an ice cream sundae or a piece of pizza. That’s ok. Sometimes those things are what would make us feel best but honestly those times are rare. If you get an answer like this and aren’t sure if it’s emotional hunger or truly what would make you feel best, how do you know? This part is actually easy . . . do you think eating that ice cream sundae will make you feel bad after you eat it? If you know it will, that’s emotional hunger and you should dig deeper for another answer to “What would make me feel best in this moment?“, because if it’s going to bring up guilt or shame, those are obviously not emotions that are going to make you feel best. If you know you can eat the sundae and feel neutral and at ease about it – you’ve answered the question thoughtfully and mindfully and you can go ahead and have it.

 

How To Start Eating More Mindfully

You aren’t going to go from a lifetime of using structured diets to seamless mindful eating in one go. It best learned slowly. You want to dip your toe in slowly like you would in a cold pool of water and then slowly move into the water a little by little as you get used to the temperature of it. Sure, you’ll get used to the water a lot faster if you just dive in, but you run the risk of wanting to get out of the pool immediately!

Choose one meal per day to practice this with at first. Which meal of the day naturally allows for the most time to yourself? Which meal will allow you to not feel rushed? Pick that meal and for 10 days practice mindful eating with that meal only. Again, pretend you are seeing an old friend for the first time in years – treat the meal the same as you would her, with your full attention. At this daily meal:

  • Eat while sitting down (not in the car) and without distractions or multitasking.
  • Chew each bite slowly and thoroughly.
  • Notice the food with all your senses. How does it look, smell, taste, sound and feel? Your mind will naturally want to wander to your to do list, if you want to give it something to do, bring your attention back to your plate and experience the food with all of your senses.
  • Take deep breaths and relax into the process.

When you start to feel like being mindful at this one meal per day is totally doable, see if you can do it for two meals per day or for one meal and when you have a snack. This will take time. Do not become discouraged if it’s not easy!

Begin a meditation practice. I know, it may seem like another subject entirely, but one of the biggest struggles with people just beginning a mindful eating practice is that they’re not used to being alone with their thoughts and it is uncomfortable not “doing” anything else while eating. One way to flex this muscle so that being present while you eat becomes the norm is to get used to meditation. All you have to do is find a quiet place where you can shut your eyes and take deep, slow breaths for 2 minutes a day. If you can do 2 minutes easily, try to do 3, if that’s easy do 5 minutes. Notice how long you can go before you start to feel restless and practice relaxing into this time for yourself. I found this really hard to do at first because I’m not very good at relaxing naturally – but working on this has made mindful eating much easier for me to settle in to.

Keep coming back to it. If you start a mindful eating practice and notice that 4 bites into the meal you automatically picked up your phone to browse the internet. Just bring your attention back and try again. If you notice that you are eating fast while standing at the sink because you’re in a rush, sit down and try again. No one learns to play the violin in a day and gets to Carnegie Hall. We have years of habits to correct – be patient and unrelenting in your persistence. It will get easier the more you do it.

This is just a small taste of how you can start to use mindful eating as a tool for weight loss and preventing overeating. If you’d like to see if it’s something that might work for you, I’d love to support you in doing this. I’m passionate about helping women connect the dots in their relationship with food! This stuff is much easier to do when you have support along the way. Contact me and we can set up a time to discuss.


If you’re not ready for a consult with Andrea but you like what she has to say, then please download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

You Are Going to Make Mistakes (Lots of Them)!

photo credit: Keepers II via photopin (license)

Just a treat or a spiral back down into disordered eating?                       photo credit: Keepers II via photopin (license)

I’ve noticed that many women who are trying to heal their relationship with food think that at some point in their journey, they’ll be completely healed and never have a bad day of eating or restricting ever again. I’ve had days where I got caught up in that idea too. They either have an idea of how other “normal” eaters must live or they’ve have had such a long streak of good days that in this moment they can’t see how they could ever have an issue again.

They believe that they’ll never have another binge, that they’ll never be tempted to calorie count again, that they won’t see a fad diet or new product and be tempted to just try it once, that their weight won’t fluctuate at all, that they’ll never have another bad thought or thing to say about their body, that they’ll never feel bad about what they ate or didn’t eat, or that they’ll never overeat again.

None of that is true.

It’s not all glitter and rainbows when you figure out how to have a better relationship with food and your body. It’s not 100% smooth sailing.

Occasionally, you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll have a whole month of daily mistakes! To be honest, I actually hate to even call it mistakes because these types of mistakes are normal for healing eaters! You’ll resort to old habits and old ways of thinking. You’ll feel like you’re sliding backwards rather than moving forward at all. You’ll think for a minute, that maybe you should give it up and just let yourself get really heavy again. You’ll want to rationalize the crappy food you keep putting in your mouth (I deserve this. I want it. I’ve been so good for so long. I really just buy it for the kids. etc) so that you can eat more of it.

Don’t worry, I know your game because I’ve participated in it myself. I’ve bought cookies “because John likes them” and then proceeded to eat 500 calories of them myself before he even saw them. I’ve eaten an entire 3 serving candybar in my car after a yoga class. I’ve rationalized skipping my workouts for a week or more because it was good to rest sometimes (and that rationalization also comes with extra eating too).

I know it’s kind of terrifying to learn that healing can look a bit like screwing up again but I promise you, for most, it’s part of the process.

So how do you determine if you are making progress (healing) or you are stuck in the same hell hole you were in in the past?

It’s how you respond when you get tripped up. It’s how long you let these slip ups go on before you get yourself back on track or ask someone else to help you. It’s whether you let a bad thought about your body pass on through or you decide to hold it hostage and indulge it and make it mean something. If you identify with everything I’ve written above, check out the questions I’ve written below and answer them for yourself to help determine whether your slip ups are a normal part of healing or if you may need extra support to progress.

Timing & Practice
-Do you fall off track for a day or two?
-Or do you fall off and can’t get back on track for a long time?
-Do you allow yourself to have a meal once in awhile where anything goes?
-Can you eat normally and thoughtfully after that meal?
-Do you practice emotionally healthy eating habits when you are eating well? (mindful eating, only eating when hungry etc)

It’s not a big deal to stop listening to your hunger cues for a meal or a couple of days and then get back on it. Problems arise when we stop listening to those cues long enough that the cues become foreign again or when we know we have absolutely no intention of getting back on it. Overeating one night isn’t going to set you back at all but overeating every night for a month or more might.

If you struggle to stop once you do fall off the wagon, you may need more support from an outside source (a coach might help) or may need more practice in putting mindful eating practices in place. When we practice emotionally healthy eating habits and do them over and over again, they become our norm, they become second nature. Think of muscle memory – when you do a sport over and over, even if you take a break from it, your body remembers the activity when you return to it (even if it’s been a long time) and you won’t have to work as hard as someone who is brand new to the sport. We get good at whatever we practice, so if you practice eating in a thoughtful way vs. eating in a disordered way, the thoughtful way will get stronger and when you fall off track, it will be brief, as you’ll have the muscle memory to right you again. Making an effort to practice your healthier eating skills is a sign you are healing. Choosing to not practice them because it’s hard is a sign we’re not making progress.

Intentions
-When you go grocery shopping, are you buying items that you know you struggle with, under the guise that you have to because someone in your home likes them?
-Do you eat sparingly in public but plan to go home and eat more when you’re alone?
-Do the majority of your intentions around eating have to do with fueling your body or fueling an emotion that you do or don’t want to feel?

If you know full well that you are planning to eat the food, don’t pretend (even in your head) otherwise. Owning that you are planning to eat something that you know is troublesome for you is less problematic than pretending your intentions have nothing to do with your desire to eat. Lying to ourselves is a sign we’re moving backwards in our progress. Being able to call yourself on it so that you can step out of it, is a sign of healing. Create a habit of calling yourself out on your bullshit – if you can’t hide from yourself, there will be less desire to have these secret food habits.

Thoughts
-When you do slip up, what do you think about it?
-What do you think about yourself?
-If you think negatively about yourself, how long do those thoughts last?
-Do you hold onto them and allow them to become more than just a thought?
-Or do you allow them to happen and move on with your day?

It’s entirely normal for someone healing from a food issue to have a bad thought appear about their body or themselves once in awhile (and “once in awhile” is something you define). In some cases, daily thoughts aren’t a big deal. It’s really how we react to it that is the important thing. Negative thoughts that we intentionally play over and over in our heads become issues – issues that we turn to food to deal with so it’s best to not indulge them. You’re going to have negative thoughts about your belly, your weight, your thighs, your hair etc, every so often, so just let them pass through, like a train going on to the next station. There isn’t a “stop” at this station so don’t drive there to pick anyone up. Hanging around the station, looking for passengers to pick up is a sign we are stepping back in our progress. Letting the train and it’s passengers (thoughts) pass by to where it needs to go is a sign we’re healing.

Don’t be wigged out by the idea that you are going to screw up along the way! If you are legitimately practicing everything you’ve learned about managing emotional eating and not indulging in lying to yourself or replaying those negative thoughts, it does get easier and the mistakes you’ll make will be less of a big deal over time. You’ll recover from them faster and have more confidence that you can do this. You won’t have to think so much about eating intuitively, mindfully or thoughtfully – it will just be how you operate. And if you’re not practicing the tools you’ve learned (or don’t even know what those tools might be), there is help for you too – but you need to ask for it and you need to be willing to work! If you are – I have total faith that you’ll heal your relationship with food.

If you are struggling and want support – please contact me to set up a mini session.

Why Choosing Foods that Nourish Your Body is Good for Your Soul

It's about the food . . .but it's not really about the food.

It’s about the food . . .but it’s not really about the food.

I want you to think for a minute about what sorts of things factor into your decisions when it comes to choosing the food you eat. Is it about what’s on sale? What the kids will eat? What you’re craving? What is comforting? What you feel is nutritious? What it convenient? Whatever is in arm’s reach?

What do you think might happen if you approached most food opportunities by thinking about what might be most nourishing for your whole being?

I can’t even tell you what a difference looking at food in this way has made in my life. When you’ve spent the majority of your life thinking about the toll of every little bite, every calorie and obsessing over how your flesh looks or feels on any given day – finding something that allows you to relax around food instead of tearing yourself down is amazing. Amazeballs amazing. It’s not a quick fix – it’s a mindset that I think takes some time and creativity to get to but it’s so freeing. I look forward to nourishing myself with food daily, instead of looking forward to what feelings I could satisfy with food. It sounds subtle but it has a big impact. I’ll explain why.

When we start choosing food that is physically nourishing, a positive side effect is that it often becomes emotionally nourishing as well. You begin to feel good about what you’re doing for your body, you start to notice how much more energy you have, how much better you feel eating this way, how much more stable your moods are etc. Soon you’re eating better not just because it’s “good for you” but because you actually want to. With each nourishing meal, you reinforce positive feelings associated with those choices, which makes you want to continue to make good choices, you continue to feel good and so on. Soon, foods that you never thought you liked before start to taste pretty good – not only are you more open to new flavors, textures and combinations but taking good care of yourself “tastes” so much better than any of the crap food you may have been eating before.
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When we are eating lots of “not so great foods” day in and day out, we can’t even fathom not eating them. It’s scary to give them up (or at least eat less of them). It feels impossible to stop eating that way. It seems crazy that anyone would want to eat more vegetables and less of the “fun” stuff. When you’re eating this way there is no nourishment. Sure, on some level, these are “comfort” foods that we reach for after a long day or a bad week – but how much comfort are they truly giving you after the opiates you receive from eating them have worn off? I bet the answer is NONE and in many cases you feel far worse.

When our diet isn’t nourishing us physically and emotionally, our bodies AND souls suffer. And when both suffer, well your life suffers. Your goals suffer. Your relationships suffer. It all feels out of control. And you thought it was just food!

The food we put in our bodies is so incredibly important but we’ve been taught that quality doesn’t matter (in fact, who talked about the quality of food up until the last decade??) and that the only thing that does is calories, carbs and fat grams. Every cell in our body is made from the food we eat – how can our bodies, our minds and our souls not be affected by it?

There’s no need to change it all overnight.  Studies show people make more lasting change when they make changes slowly!  You make something a long term habit first and then it becomes just a part of you and your life. Where to start? Think about what you can add to your diet, rather than what you can take out. 

It’s springtime here in the North East so I recommend adding some of these nourishing spring time foods to your diet to start: asparagus, leeks, avocado, fennel, peas, watercress, swiss chard, beets, fiddleheads, mizuna, strawberries, dandelion greens, chives, parsley, dill, ramps, radishes and lemons. Choose one or two to add to your diet this week, note how they make you feel and then next week try adding something else.  Focus on adding IN nourishment and see if you feel a difference. The rest will fall into place over time.

How much more awesome would your life be if you were nourished physically and emotionally? What do you think you’d be able to accomplish that you are struggling with now? Share in the comments. And as always, if you want help tackling the physical or emotional side of nourishing yourself with food – you know where to find me.

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