How To Eat Intuitively In The Land Of Dieting

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The following is a guest post by Jessica Ash, Holistic Health Coach (INHC) 

Lately, intuitive eating has been gaining popularity amongst the health and wellness crowd. This shift in mindset from heavy restriction, dogmatic nutrition and counting calories/macros is such a good thing in my opinion.

But the question is:

How do I tap into my intuition, so I can eat intuitively?

I think most women would agree that we live in a society that praises us for:
• being skinny & fit over being healthy
• eating less food than they need or want
• eating a certain way to please others (or social media)
• obsessively counting macros and/or calories in the name of being “disciplined”

So, what do we do? We teach ourselves to push through the exhaustion, the hunger, the cravings and the painful PMS, telling ourselves it’s for the greater good. Many times, drowning out the cry of our bodies in the process.

And here’s the deal, once you ignore your body for too long, a disconnect takes place. You dull your ability tune in, tap in and really listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

Some of us (nutritionists and health coaches included) are desperately clinging to our fear and restriction approach and carrying it with us in the name of Paleo or Vegan or IIFYM. Forgetting that the whole point of changing our diet in the first place had nothing to do with the diet itself and had everything to do with how it made us feel.

If you ask me, by sticking to our rules, we are missing out on a huge opportunity to use nutrition as a tool for self-growth and self-awareness. So, if you feel like you’ve gotten a little caught up in the nutrition dogma lately (Been there!) and want to take a more self-trusting, intuitive approach to your food and your life, the following tips are for you.

1. Listen to Your Cravings
Now, notice I didn’t say “eat” your cravings. I said listen. Cravings can be an incredible way to get insight, not only to what’s going on inside our bodies physically, but also emotionally.

Just because you are craving a whole pack of oreos, doesn’t mean your body needs a whole pack of oreos. But, what it does need is for you to use the cravings as an opportunity to tune in, tap in and figure out what it needs.

For example, I’ve noticed women crave sugar when they are emotionally stressed out because the glucose gives them a temporary hit of dopamine, making them feel much more safe and grounded. Does their body need that pint of ice cream? Nope. Their body needs them to slow down and rest.

2. Eat When You’re Hungry & Don’t When You’re Not
Something as simple as listening to your body’s hunger cues is not only an amazing way to eat more intuitively, but a way to cultivate a self-trust by trusting our bodies to do what’s best for us.

When we don’t eat when we’re hungry, stuff ourselves full, or eat when we aren’t hungry, we are overriding our body’s signals, and deciding what’s best. This can lead to bad habits like: mindless snacking, bingeing and eating when we’re bored or sad.

Part of loving your body is giving it what it needs when it needs it.

3. Let Yourself Truly Enjoy Your Food
I don’t know about you, but I was taught that it was unladylike to enjoy my food. (WTF!?) But here’s what I’ve learned. Enjoying really good food without guilt or shame is a normal and natural part of the human experience. Learning and admitting what you like and don’t like when it comes to food will help you make more confident decisions in all areas of life.

As a bonus, when you’re deeply satisfied with your food, you focus on food much less than someone who is constantly deprived. So, whether it’s a Vegan Diet full of green smoothies or a
Paleo Diet full of steak and veggies or a little bit of both, make sure your days are filled with foods you truly enjoy eating.

4. Stop Labeling Foods as “Good” or “Bad”
You know what’s harder on the body than poor-quality food? Guilt. Shame. STRESS. I think we will all agree that there are high-quality foods that make our body feel good and low-quality foods that don’t make us feel too hot, but once we start putting labels on them, we’ve missed the point.

And this leads me into my last point:

5. Use detoxes, cleanses, Whole30s, etc. As Tools
Good nutrition is great, but it’s not the end all be all. It is a tool to help us get in touch with our bodies, tune in and tap in. By noticing how foods make our body feel, it begins to change the way we feel about our body.

Whole30s, cleanses, elimination diets and detoxes are not about the restriction, they are about setting some time aside time to realign us with our body’s cues and signs.

At the end of the day, we need to remember the big picture. This life is about living well. And our body is a gift that exists solely as a vehicle for you to experience life and pursue your purpose. So whether its diet, exercise, travel or meditation, we must see these things for what they are, instruments for cultivating self-awareness and creating a richer, higher-quality life experience. Instead of focusing on what you should be doing, ask yourself is this what I want to be doing.

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Jessica Ash is a Functional Clinical Nutritionist living in Southern California. Just five years ago, she was suffering from the symptoms PCOS & 3 Autoimmune Diseases on a daily basis. Flash forward to now, she is healthier than ever and has transitioned from focusing on her own healing journey to helping women change their mindset about their body and hack their hormones, so they can finally ditch their symptoms and live life on fire.

Learn more about Jessica here: