How many of you think that following a diet is difficult?
Most of the diets are based on restrictions following a mindset of all-or-nothing, and usually on our “cheat day” we end up eating more than we need, then we feel guilty, we think the diet was a failure and we start again with a new “trendy” diet. This is not healthy, nor sustainable.
What we need to do to be healthy is to change our relationship with food and start eating in a more balanced and mindful way. It is not about losing weight or keeping restrictions, it is about our well-being, being healthy is not being on a diet or exercising all the time.
Being healthy is feeling your best, embracing who you are and being happy with it.
Intuitive Eating is an approach developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, both registered dietitians, where the focus is not on the diet and more about listening to your body needs; Have you thought about why sometimes you crave a specific type of food and sometimes you won’t even think about it? Or Why sometimes you won’t stop eating even though you are feeling full?
The relation between what you eat and their influence on your mental health is closer than you think.
When we feel stressed, sad or anxious, we tend to eat comfort food, not necessarily the healthiest, usually, we crave high-sugar and high-fat foods, but even though these will make us feel better in the moment, that feeling won’t last; whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes are a better option dealing with mental health issues.
Below are some principles based on the intuitive eating approach, that will help you tune your body into more intuitive eating, this is not a recipe or a list of actions for you to follow, this is just a starting point for you to listen to your body and to begin thinking more positively and mindfully about food, we recommend you consult with a nutritionist, dietician or health specialist before any major changes in your eating habits.
Walk away from the “diet culture”
It all starts with the information and people around us, we live in a “diet culture” where since we are kids, they told us to look in a specific way to fit in; we need to start thinking that each body is different and unique if a “diet” works for a friend, that doesn’t mean that will work for you. Stop blaming yourself for your body size and get rid of all your “diet” books and unfollow the social media accounts that embrace the “diet culture”, this will help you to achieve a better state of mind and will declutter what you see and consume.
Keep a Food Journal
The path to eating healthy is a process where first we need to learn what is best for our body, and the best way to do it is to start journaling about it, keeping a food journal of what you eat and how do you feel will help you to understand your eating habits, find eating patterns, and keep track of which food is better for your body and which one is not so good.
Some journal prompts that you can use are:
How does being hungry feel in your body?
Does your mood change when you are hungry?
What type of food do you crave the most?
What emotions do you feel when you think about food?
What reasons cause you to eat besides hunger?
Do you eat foods that you love and make you happy?
Do you eat foods that you consider healthy, but don’t enjoy?
What does having a satisfying meal look like to you?
Every time you sit down to eat your meal: Do you do it with intention?, Are you paying attention to the food that you are eating?, Do you realize how it tastes and makes you feel?
Eating mindfully means that while you are eating, you are paying attention, on purpose, to all elements of your experience; you are open to describing what does your food smells and tastes like and how does it make you feel, is about enjoying the experience without judging yourself (or the food) and allowing you to discover a new relationship with food.
Be aware of how much time you spend on each meal, sometimes we get caught up with our everyday tasks that when we allow ourselves to eat, we do it quickly and without a proper proportion, and this could create a bad habit around food that later will be difficult to break.
Another good practice about mindful eating is to take a pause midway through a meal and ask yourself: Where’s my hunger and fullness right now?
Food choices that honour your health and body
We are used to perceiving healthy food as “boring” or “tasteless”, but one thing that I recently discovered is how to cook vegetable soup. I invite you to explore different ways of cooking, making your recipes and playing with your food (yes, I’m telling you to play with your food), try to not compromise taste and you will find it truly enjoyable.
We got for you a useful and beautifully designed Wellness Journal for FREE that includes a Food Journal that will help you to understand your eating habits and will keep you accountable of your food goals. You can download it here.