The Art of Mindful Nourishment
How to harness your emotional toolbox for healthy eating
Jean Edelman: Great to be with you this week. Food, that’s what I want to talk about. It is who we are. We are what we eat. We are our heritage of traditions and foods. And when we become friends with our body and accept ourselves, it can be a little helpful to look at how and what we eat. Are we rigid? Do we have a list of good and bad? Are we always on a diet?
So let’s open up our mind a bit and let’s talk about intuitive eating. It’s really a non-diet approach to a healthier relationship with our food. What it’s doing is intuitive eating is putting our trust back into our body and listening to the innate signals of our hunger, of being full, of being satisfied. This trust guides us on what, when and how much we eat. There’s no judgment. There’s only grace and acceptance for our journey of trusting our body and the signals it’s sending us.
So intuitive eating is basically, let’s stop dieting and let’s look at the beautiful bounty of beautiful, fresh whole foods. And I’m talking about whole foods available to us and how we can decide how we feel after we eat something. We should make a list of what works and what doesn’t, because each of us is an individual and each of us are foods are very different.
And what I’m talking about is whole foods. So all the vegetables, all the greens, all the rices, all the lentils and all the legumes, these are whole foods. We want to stay away from fast foods and we want to stay away from sugar. Those are still off the list. What we’re talking about today are whole foods and using our intuition.
The second thing we want to do when tuning into our intuitive eating is to honor our hunger. You know what I’ve talked about? When we’re busy, we don’t honor the sensations of our body. It’s constantly sending us messages. Hey, I’m hungry. Hey, I need to use the bathroom. Hey, I’m tired. But you know what? With intuitive eating, we are constantly listening to the cues that our body is sending us. Hey, I would like to eat a little something. Hey, I would like a snack. Can we use the restroom now? How about a break? And I just kind of sit for a little bit.
Let’s stop fighting our body and let’s start honoring it. How about we make peace with food? Let’s have unconditional permission to eat what is appealing to us now (with the caveat that there are people with allergies and issues, I’m one of them). But when we’re constantly saying something is off limits, that could create triggers and emotions of deprivation which lead us to overindulgence.
So how about we give ourselves the grace and allow ourselves to enjoy the food even if we have 1 or 2 bites? It’s delicious and we’re enjoying it with people and friends that we love and we’re having a nice time and it’s okay. So unconditional permission.
The next thing is to respect the signal when we are full. We need to trust and check in during the meal so maybe we’re halfway through the meal. Are we feeling full? It usually takes about 20 minutes after we’ve eaten something to actually register in our brain that we are full. And so it’s good to check in during a meal.
And you know what the other thing is? It is to slow down and chew. When we slow down and chew, we actually feel full sooner. And so is it a habit that we just cleaning our plate – and where during the meal are we full? Is it halfway? Is it three quarters of the way allowing ourselves to enjoy our food and know when we’ve had enough? And like I said, sharing a wonderful dessert. A few bites with family and friends is absolutely joyful.
The next thing we want to do with intuitive eating is tune into our emotions. Emotions are a huge part of our food because stress, anger, sadness, guilt. These are all huge emotions. Shame, discomfort. Yeah, that’s a lot. Those are big emotions with our food. So tune in. It’s okay. You know, maybe we’re eating something that triggers something from a childhood, and maybe we were shamed to eat it.
Well, now you’re an adult, and you’re only going to have a few bites, and it’s okay. We want to tune in to our emotions because when we overindulge to satisfy that emotion, that satisfaction is short lived and that’s when we tend to overeat. And so having our emotional toolbox handy when it comes to food is super important. And I think that intuitive eating can help this because we’re listening to our body. We’re giving ourselves permission. We’re trusting our body once again. Respect comes up. We’ve got to respect our body and connect the dots. We are what we eat and it is a part of our long-term health.
Exercise is important. Getting outside to walk. Learning to trust how we feel. This is all important and feeling good. You know what? Maybe we felt bad for so long, and now all of a sudden we’re trusting about our food and we’re starting to feel good and we’re like, Oh wow, is that real? And yeah, we need to trust that it’s real.
Another thing that helps us feel full and satisfied is a short walk after each meal. This helps us digest our food a little bit better. Remember “wabi sabi:. Nothing’s perfect, nothing’s complete, and nothing’s forever. We are not meant to be perfect, but we are meant to honor our bodies and trust our intuition and manage our emotions to find that balance.
So the goal is to become aligned with these natural signals, listening to our body throughout the day. Don’t starve it. Don’t let it get too tired. Don’t let it have to use the restroom at the last very second and make sure we hydrate.
Some other great tips: Eat at regular times. So I’ve talked about this before. Making sure we get breakfast before 9:00 AM, finishing our lunch by one and trying to finish our dinner or our evening meal by seven. We want to sit down and we want to chew our food because that is helping us have enjoyment of our food because we’re actually tasting it. And big spoiler alert, turn off the TV. Don’t watch TV while you’re eating. You won’t even remember what you ate if you’re watching the news. It’s terrible. The key is to tune in and see how much better we feel with this intuitive eating, having grace, giving ourselves permission, listening to the signals, and remembering to respect this beautiful gift, this beautiful body.
So my word of the week is Food.
The F is for Fun because our meals should be fun and enjoyable. They should be colorful and healthy, try different grains, try different legumes, try different lentils. See how they make you feel. I bet they’ll fill you up and you will feel happy. Intuitive eating does not mean that we grab the cakes and cookies. No, no, no. Those are for special occasions. It is really a commitment to eating whole fresh food. It is planning our meals, planning our snacks and having water on hand and listening.
The O is to Observe. We need to observe the signals we are getting from this beautiful, beautiful body. We need to love ourselves enough to provide our mind and body what it needs. Don’t deprive it during the day, nourish ourselves during the day.
The other O is for Outside because walks and fresh air are key. Getting our metabolism moving, getting us tuned in with nature. Nature gets us tuned in with ourselves.
And the D is for Decide to make good choices. Intuitive eating is listening and making healthy choices for ourselves. So when we eat something and we feel bad, we should make note of it and not eat it again and again. If we have allergies or health issues, we want to restrict those foods also. But it’s about listening because we don’t know unless we listen and we try. Intuitive eating is about making healthy whole food choices. It is about listening. It’s about checking in with those emotions and facing the old thoughts and triggers.
Remember, we get to start each day anew and our body will be so happy to know we are tuned in. Our body will be happy to know we are listening. Our body will be happy to know that we are feeding it and giving it water when it needs. Have a wonderful week, everybody. Listen. Get that intuition and that intuitive eating going and you’re going to feel great.