Where did you first hear the word diet? Was it from your mother’s lips when she grabbed her love handles with utter disgust? Was it from your best friend when she sighed wistfully at your plate of French fries and said, “if only I was five pounds skinnier.”
As women from a young age, we are inundated with an abundance of negative emotions concerning our weight – shame, remorse, frustration and anger, just to name a few. It’s like a toxic gas that floats into our lives and infects the very cells that make up who we are.
I grew up in a very body-positive household but when I walked out those doors, I was taught the opposite of what my parent’s preached. I rallied against it, like a rebellious teenager, hell bent on proving society wrong. But even I fell victim to disordered eating, thinking my illness was the answer to staying skinny. It took me almost three years to tune out the noise and focus on the needs and wants of my body, instead of what was being shoved down my throat.
I’m here today writing this post because Intuitive Eating was what changed my mindset toward one of positivity and love. My hope is you will walk away after reading this, one tiny step closer to recognizing only YOU know what you need to nourish your body and soul. Nobody else does – not even that woman with her six pack abs, telling you to buy the latest weight loss miracle. So if you’re ready to dive in, then put down your cell phone and let’s begin.
What is Intuitive Eating?
We live in an age of distractions. We have Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, text messaging and endless apps on our phones to keep us entertained. However, there is one glaring problem with never being bored. We have no freaking clue how to sit still and recognize all the emotions we might be feeling. We bury them under a mountain of technology because we don’t set aside a moment to just breath.
Recognizing our emotions allows us to tap into the innate intelligence of our bodies and it’s better than counting calories or sipping green juice for a week straight. Because who else understands our bodies better than we do? Can I get a heck, yes?
This is the basic principle behind Intuitive Eating – tuning in and listening to our inner voice, telling us what we are truly craving.
Think back to the last time you wanted a piece of chocolate cake or a cookie. Were you stressed out because your boss was an asshole dictator? Or were you happy because you received a raise and felt like celebrating? Now, let me ask another question – did you indulge in that craving? Did you let the sweetness hit your tongue, eternally grateful chocolate was invented that and savor each blissful morsel? Or did you lay in bed obsessing about the cake, until finally you gave in and raided the fridge like a zombie on a quest for brains?
For a long time, I was the zombie in option B. Then it dawned on me that by saying hey! I would love a triple ice cream sundae right now with whipped cream and hot fudge, was equally okay to thinking, hey! I would love a huge kale salad right about now. You’ll find once you stop denying yourself what you want, you’ll start craving foods you had no idea you even liked, ahem, brussel sprouts.
If this sounds like a bunch of baloney to you, I get it! Changing your thought process around food requires some serious brain re-mapping. Like I said, it took me three years before I stopped listening to everyone else tell me what nourishment my body needed. Once I turned down the dial though, it was life giving.
Need proof? At the bottom of the post is a one-week challenge that puts Intuitive Eating into action. Let me follow along on your journey! Tag #tuneinandlisten on Facebook and Instagram.
Parasympathetic VS. Sympathetic Mode.
These two states of being are very rarely mentioned when people talk about intuitive eating but I feel it’s an important piece of the puzzle. If you don’t know what those terms above mean, then let me explain real quick.
Parasympathetic – rest and digest
Sympathetic – flight or fight mode.
When we’re in sympathetic mode, your pupils are dilated, your heart rate is increased and your saliva is inhibited. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when you’re in parasympathetic mode, your pupils are constricted and your heartbeat is slow and steady. Can you guess which mode is best for digestion? Correct – parasympathetic.
We are a nation of eating on the go. Food is viewed as fuel, not nourishment, which is why we no longer hear the signals our body is sending us. We have to drop down into a parasympathetic state and focus on the taste, smells and sensations around us to truly walk away from our meals satisfied.
How do we do this exactly? By slowing down. Go outside, sit on a park bench and breath in the summer air. For each bite you take, set down your fork and chew for 30 seconds. Give your food your undivided attention. Once you master this step, you’re on the path to Intuitive Eating.
The Five Principals
- Savor and Enjoy – Do you want a cookie so bad you can practically taste it? Then have the dang cookie, but don’t shove it in your mouth and pretend as if it never existed. Put the cookie on your prettiest plate and sit your butt down. I don’t care if it’s on the couch or the floor, just sit down and be present. Savor each bite without shame or judgment. Right now, this is about your needs, whatever they may be.
- Tune in and Listen – Once you’re done, take a moment to check in and ask yourself what drove you to the cookie jar. Are you lonely, anxious, bored or was it because you wanted what you thought you couldn’t have? Being honest about the why’s behind your food choices sheds light on what you’re reacting to.
- Be Mindful – Stop treating food as fuel or worse as a dirty word. Food is nourishment and we should treat it with the respect it deserves. View your meals as if they were a sexy, interesting man you want to seduce. Put away your phone, put on some jazz, dim the lights and heck, put on your sexiest underwear if it helps. Creating an atmosphere or ritual around food puts you in the present moment so you can focus on the taste, smells and sensations of your meal, instead of what is happening on Instagram.
- Move that booty – For a long time I had a mental block toward exercise. I viewed it as torture, but once I discovered an activity I actually enjoyed I was hooked. Do what feels good to you – it can be yoga, a long walk along the beach, swimming at the local pool with your kids or a sweaty romp between the sheets. As long as you’re getting those endorphins pumping, you’re golden.
- Re-gain your power – Don’t let food control you. You’re the one steering the ship and looking like a downright badass doing so. Breaking down the walls that have been built around your self worth will be the most freeing thing you have ever done. Trust me, obsessing about calories or points is worthless at the end of the day. You only have one life to live – why live it with endless restrictions?
One Week Challenge
For the next week, I want you to put the five principals I outlined into action. Before you go to bed, jot down your thoughts and feelings during this process. Then share your results on Facebook and Instagram with #tuneinandlisten. That’s it! Have fun.