Nutrition-Cause you love it, not cause she photographed it!
After typing my passions away discussing intuitive exercising I just had to explore intuitive eating and nutrition. Now this, if mastered is your key to happiness, believe me. Intuitive eating? Sounds pretty easy, eat when you’re hungry, what you’re hungry for and stop when you’re full. A lot easier said than done, so many of us (including myself) have totally lost all touch with our true mental and physical hunger through diet culture, influencers, medications and even an over consumption of processed foods high in oils and refined sugars. All bodies are different, we need to listen to our own to find our own homeostasis instead of whatever the food gurus preach over an Instagram photo.
We get so caught-up in the, “he said, she said” around nutrition, slammed by diet culture with countless eating trends. We can’t escape the labels of, “Vegan”, “Paeleo", “CLEAN”, “80/20”, “Gluten free”, “Whole foods only”. Each with their own cherry-picked data to justify why they can supposedly help you live to 100. Well, nobody, no matter how educated cannot design your perfect diet because everybody is different. E V E R Y B O D Y. EVERY. BODY. I can’t stress that enough. As long as you’re eating enough and getting a correct amount of nutrients you can eat however you wish. What works for Clean Chloe may not work for you, you may need to treat yourself every so often and that’s okay - Actually encouraged. You may loveeee oatmeal but that doesn't mean you should deprive yourself of it because someone whose celiac does.
So how have we turned off our true huger cues? Well we can switch them off when we follow a restricted diet. If we deprive ourselves of calories, certain foods, nutrients or even over exercise we change our hormonal balance and chemical reactions within our bodies which can really through our hunger out of whack. I’m sure we've all experienced a low-calorie nightmare in our early days and noticed even afterwards when we ate normally again we were still hungry. This is because our body never forgets, it hates being in starvation mode and will signal us to try and compensate for the calories we had deprived ourselves of when in a dieting phase.
Some even experience an absence of hunger signals in a pro-longed dieting phase and this is catastrophic and incredibly unhealthy. This means our bodies truly don't believe we’ll eat normally again and have adapted to the low amount to become more efficient at survival and we can fail to eat to our true hunger. Over the long term our bodies will always compel us to regain to our happy place, it’s how the human body works. Hence why diets are pointless and often leave in in a worse place then we began in.
We all experience cravings for calorie dense foods, but some say, “If I eat intuitively, I’ll be the size of a house I’d only eat crap”. So why do we naturally crave these unnatural foods? Well it’s simple, our bodies are like encyclopedias - they memories everything we have ever ingested and use those as nutrient referencing. If you’ve either been intentionally/unintentionally under-eating or eating low carb and crave nothing but calorie dense sweets loaded with refined sugar you don't really want the treats just the nutrient they are most dense in, carbohydrates.
Ever wonder why the body builder crowd are obsessed with doughnuts? Might have something to do with their even greater obsession with low carb diets. Same goes for fats, especially in females who require a higher amount of dietary fats to support their hormonal needs. I remember eating super low fat when I first went vegan because that was what was trendy. I often found myself in the kitchen uncontrollably shoving peanut butter into my mouth at 3am. And guess what, that stopped when I actually began to eat balanced with fats in every meal.
Follow Your Stomach
This is why intuitive eating gets a bad rap, most people just are not in the correct position to go into it cold turkey because their hunger is so out of whack already. We need a metabolic reboot before we can listen to our true cravings. For some this means they should just eat freely until they feel satisfied before they can be intuitive. After a while of “crap” eating nothing sounds more delicious than a tofu and vegetable stir fry. If we feel tired, cook up some carbs. Weak? Have some beans and tempeh on toast. Irritable and unsatisfied? Add in some nuts and seeds.
Feeling extra hungry today compared to yesterday? That’s okay, eat. Feeling less hungry this morning because you over-eat last night? It’s okay have a lighter breakfast - it’ll all even out. Feed your body accordingly to the signals you’re receiving – that’s why they’re there. It takes some practice but don't forget our bodies are incredibly smart, they know exactly what to do with that we give it.
Calorie or macro counting are the only mathematical equations that have set man-kind back. Food is fuel and nourishment not a number that dictates our composition/self worth. That’s the best thing about listening to your body, your body will tell you when it’s at its limit, when its under-fueled. It’s easy to freak out if you’re eating more “calories” than your pre-planned amount, but that amount was never yours to begin with, it was interfering with your stress-free freedom with food. The only time I think it’s essential to count calories is if you’re trying to ensure you’re eating enough in order to stay healthy.
Some people find themselves, “eating enough” of good nutritious foods but still feeling mentally drawn to food even though they are physically full. This is called mental hunger, its super common when you’re changing your diet from rule book, to feature film: starring your health and happiness. Mental hunger is just as valid as physical hunger, this usually tosses chronic dieters into a loop. Truth is, your body wants more food but can’t physically fit more into it – you’re simply unsatisfied. Usually happens when you ignore your true cravings for a prolonged time. Remember your body will always play catch up and it will always win. This is why you must feed your soul and your body because if you don't you’ll fall into the binge-restrict mess which is what you’ve under taken this intuitive lifestyle to avoid. All hunger is there for a reason, just go with it.
I preach a mostly whole foods diet because this is what causes our bodies to thrive. So, I recommend it as a base to any diet supplemented with treats, extra portions of whatever nutrient your craving or needing accordingly. We can lose touch of our hunger cues if we eat a standard diet full of processed and easily accessible foods. Why? well they lack fiber, minerals and nutrients that satisfy our bodily needs, so it’s super easy to over eat them without even considering it.
We’ll keep eating McDonalds easily and way surpass our caloric needs, but can call it a quits after a few sweet potatoes because it will take more cheeseburgers to give our bodies what they're asking for than baked spuds. Processed foods are loaded with sugars and salts that over stimulate our taste buds and turn off our intuition. A great book that explores this further is, “The pleasure trap” by Douglas J. Lisle.
Remember, intuitive eating isn't a weight loss strategy. Some people do lose weight, some gain and some maintain. If you gain weight or if you lose weight that’s a good sign. It means this is working, your body is doing what it needs to do to be its healthiest. It’s all relative to your past and present relationship with you diet and lifestyle. However, over time you will find your happy place, love it and stay there. You’ll be the best you, that’s more beautiful than any model on the runway.
You can’t just eat intuitively and expect to be healthy. I mean, we’ve established that - health isn't just what’s on your plate. Make sure you’re sleeping enough, drinking enough, thinking positively, moving and resting accordingly and this will also help regulate your true eating habits and cravings. It’s easy to confuse sleep deprivation with low energy, de-hydration with hunger, stress with mental hunger.
We need to move past diet culture and realize our worth grows far beyond our biceps and stretches longer than the legs of a Victoria secret model. It’s all about what goes on inside, how our bodies are functioning and how we’re thinking. I mean nothings looks better than self love all dressed up within a beautiful, healthy and unrestricted body.