Last week I talked about inituative eating and I have gotten a lot of questions about it. A lot of you are asking how can I possibly eat enough variety to stay healthy if I’m just eating what I feel like eating. So let me show you how eating intuitively allows me to eat a wide variety of foods and stay healthy.
Like many, my intuitive eating journey started off by going a bit overboard. I knew that I could have cake whenever I felt like it, as long as I sat down to mindfully eat it and be fully present while I was eating. Safe to say I ate a lot of cake. However. Fast forward a few months and I was really developing a taste for the foods I actually enjoyed, like really enjoyed, eating. Mindfully eating cake meant that I knew I didn’t like the taste of store bought cakes, so I stopped eating them. Same for most café varieties. This happened for a lot of different foods – over time I got really in tune to what makes my body sing.
So now my diet is incredibly varied and yes includes foods that are less nutritious than others.
Freedom and variety
I eat plenty of vegetables because they make my digestion run properly and keep my tummy happy. Sometimes I go overboard and have to dial it back for a few days.
I have plenty of whole grains but recognise when I prefer white varieties over brown. As is the case with rice. I simply don’t like brown rice so I have a white variety. I’m okay with this knowing that I’m getting plenty of fibre and low GI carbs from other food sources. Wholegrain bread keeps me fuller for longer than white varieties so I go for that, because feeling full for a period of time after eating is important to me.
I enjoy a wide range of proteins, with varying fat contents. Sometimes I grill some chicken breast to have over a salad and sometimes you’ll find me tucking in to a rich slow roasted lamb shoulder. It depends on what I feel like and what time of year it is really.
I have lite milk because that’s what I grew up on and what tastes good to me. I have full fat cheese and an on-again-off-again relationship with yoghurt (my current flame is Jalna). I seldom eat kale, except when I can’t get spinach.
I have cake and chocolate because I like how they taste. I don’t often have lollies because I don’t like them as much as chocolate. I always have a muesli bar in my handbag for emergency hunger situations. I tried having a container of nuts. The lid came off. Cleaning that up wasn’t very fun.
So you see, intuitive eating actually allows me to eat a whole lot of foods. If I’m treating all foods as equal (and not calling some good and others bad) I find that I naturally want to eat a wide variety of foods.
A lot of people are worried that when they start their initiative eating journey that they’ll eat nothing but jam doughnuts and chocolate bars.
I get it. I really do. It can be really scary to let go of the tight (sometimes very!) control we have on our eating. After all we have all had years of everyone tell us that thin people are disciplined and fat people, well, they just shove anything into their pie holes! They’re overweight because they’re lazy. If they just tried harder, or were more disciplined, they’d be thin. So naturally we think the answer is to watch every morsel that crosses our lips.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that you might eat nothing but doughnuts and chocolate. For the first little while anyway. But. If you are truly eating in an attuned way, where all foods are morally neutral you might begin to notice something. When we eat the same foods over and over again, they tend not to taste as good. We’re wired to seek out new tastes, because back in the day that meant different nutrients. We’ve probably all had the experience of being away on holiday and wanting nothing more than some fresh vegetables after so many rich meals. If you’ve had this experience then great- that’s an example of intuitive eating!
What gets in the way of this experience (scientifically called Sensory Specific Satiety) is a dieting mentality where foods are “good” and “bad” or “allowed” and “banned”. As soon as we classify foods in this manner we tend to want to eat more of the “bad” foods and we tend to feel guilty or bad for eating them. This means we can eat these foods in secret (the car) and we can eat them very quickly (“…hubbies in the shower for five minutes – quick! I’ll eat this now and he’ll never know that I stuffed up my diet!”). This means that we never fully appreciate the taste of what we’re eating and being on the “bad” list of foods just means we crave these foods more.
What can you do instead of this? Stay tuned for a whole blog post on this topic!
In summary, as I’ve said before you CAN trust your body. If you listen to your body and trust what it is telling you, you might be surprised by what you end up eating!