Happy Healthy You – Intuitive Eating
I have battled with an eating disorder since my early 20’s, or as my life coach says, self destructive behavior. I can honestly say that intuitive, or mindful eating, is a new thing for me. Intuitive eating has felt like a natural progression for me since I started intentionally practicing self nurturing behavior. It started with me listening to my body, or voice within, in other areas of my life. Like setting healthy boundaries and being able to say no. Paying attention to when I need to limit my commitments, enabling me to spend more quiet, down time in my jammies. It has been during these times when I began really tuning into what my body needed nutritionally as well.
For instance, for decades I used to shove down lots of food when I was emotionally upset or couldn’t handle a difficult situation. My old self used to mindlessly shove food in trying to numb out the pain. I would also choose foods highest in sugar and fat, which then led to salty foods and alcohol. Now, because I am connected to my body, I notice that my digestive system doesn’t digest food well when I am upset. Instead I need easier, nourishing food to digest that is high in nutrition like a green smoothie or veggie packed soup.
I also pay attention to how during certain times of the month, due to hormones, my needs change. There is usually one week per month that I am hungrier and my usual salad or green smoothie just isn’t cutting it. I love eating heartier, soul filling foods like apple cinnamon steel cut oats, avocado toast, or a chili stuffed potato. In the past, one traumatic event and I could end up going on an unhealthy food binge for weeks or months at a time. At one point, for a couple of years, I would lose and gain the same 25 or 30 pounds, depending on life’s events. I knew I had to stop this vicious cycle if I ever wanted to reach my goal weight.
Frankly, life will always be challenging. I wanted to find new healthy, self nurturing coping mechanisms. I have lots of yummy, soul nourishing healthy recipes in my repertoire and promised to prepare those next time life hit me hard. I believe I was able to turn things around by analyzing my patterns and digging deep to what my bottom line was.
It all came down to really honoring and loving myself with the food I fed my body. I didn’t want to harm my body with food anymore. The food wasn’t worth it. I was worth it. I am not completely there yet, but the last year has been transformative for sure. For example, yesterday I was pretty emotionally distraught. After my Zumba class I went to my nearest park, so I could have a good heart wrenching ugly cry. Afterwards, I stopped by my Farmer’s Market for my regular, weekly organic kale and veggie run. I told myself, treat yourself to some toffee sugar coated almonds. (For the last couple of years, I have been avoiding sugar as it is very addictive for me, and I am more successful when I try to eat it very occasionally). I then checked in with myself and evaluated if the toffee almonds are really what my soul needed. No, it wasn’t. I was feeling sorely neglected and unloved. I decided to shower myself with true love and treated myself to a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I also picked out some gorgeous, juicy strawberries and sweet tangerines. That did the trick. I instantly felt better as I intuitively and lovingly gave myself what I needed, rather than abuse my body with food.
I love an article I read from MBGHealth about intuitive eating. They talk about how to tune into your body and strengthen your intuition about food. The three ideas they give are: 1. Sit down and always eat mindfully. This can be challenging as it is so easy to mindlessly eat staring at our electronic devices. 2. Carve out time for yourself. I completely agree. I love how they ask, Is it food, or just more self care? A lot of times in my case I need or crave something else, not food. It was hard for me to stop the habit of shoving food in my mouth, as that had been my “go to” for years. I used food for happy times, sad times or just boredom. I had to make a list of self nurturing behaviors I could practice when things got difficult. and 3. Learn to trust your instinct, no matter what. I wholeheartedly agree with this. I think that has been one of the biggest shifts for me, trusting myself.
When I take the time to tune into my body at all times and everyday, my intuition knows whats best. I hope you too can enjoy the benefits and freedom of intuitive eating. I know you will be able to set yourself free! And all of us at AZ Medical Weight Control are here to help and support you to reach your goals.