After going through the first nine principles of Intuitive Eating you’re probably asking yourself the question, are there any foods you should put the most focus on consuming?
It is important to try to focus on consuming foods that honour your health and taste buds as well as make you feel well and nourish yourself properly.
Remember that it is what you consume consistently over time that counts, so your diet does not have to be perfectly healthy.
You will not gain weight or become deficient from one day of bad eating.
You have learned skills such as learning how to Make Peace with Food in previous chapters which should help you with this.
Follow on reading for 5 tips on gentle nutrition:
Body Food Choice Congruence
This is an inner awareness of food after it enters your body that goes beyond what is craved by your taste buds and also focuses on how it makes you feel.
This creates a shift in what you decide to eat that uses other parts of your body than your tongue when honouring food choices.
This uses nutrition to increase self-care as it makes food choices not only for pleasure but also increases health.
Body Food Choice Congruence is reflected upon by many factors such as eating to get more energy, eating to help get pregnant, or eating to not get hungry too soon.
You can practice this by picking a food that is appealing to you when mildly hungry and asking yourself questions such as how did it make your body feel in the past when you last ate it, how did you feel after you ate it, did the meal give you sufficient energy and would you eat it again?
You should listen to how you feel after eating a certain food as your body will tell you, what foods work for you and which ones do not.
Evaluate the Balance between Fun Food and Nutritious Food
First of all, replace the word junk food with pleasurable food. Junk food is associated with something negative and as an intuitive eater, you have made peace with food and don’t look at foods as good foods and bad foods.
It is important to find a balance between nutritious food and pleasurable food. Like anything in life, a balance is needed. If you were to work all the time with no holidays, you would burn out.
Similarly, with your eating, you need an occasional time out as if you only focused on healthy food you could risk for example a potential eating disorder where you only focus on healthy Foods (Orthorexia).
For this reason, it is important to enjoy your food and find a balance, allowing yourself the occasional piece of candy.
Also not calling less nutritious food junk food will make you less fixated on healthy food.
Assessing the readiness of bringing body food choice congruences into your food relationship can help assess whether your choice to consume healthy food is coming from a place of true healing or whether you still need to do some more work.
First, ask yourself what motivates your food choices, and when eating healthy foods does the choice come from the desire to eat it or just to add nutrients or based on a food rule?
If your desire to eat comes from nutritious values or food rules, reflect on what relationship you have with food. If you eat because of what your tongue tells you, reflect on whether you think about how the food will make your body feel.
Based on your answers to the above questions, reflect does this concept feels right to you.
Lastly assess your relationship with play food such as how often you eat it, how often you crave it, and how much you can handle in one sitting.
Now answer the 5 questions in the table below adapted from the Intuitive Eating Workbook:
1) You eat nutritious foods because you feel it’s something you should do
2)You enjoy nutritious foods because of the taste
3)You appreciate its value in good health
4)You eat pleasurable food when craved, as long as it does not make you feel uncomfortable physically
5)You eat more pleasurable food than nutritious food, despite how it makes your body feel.
If you answered yes to questions 2-4 you are likely ready for gentle nutrition.
Focus on your Authentic Health
You should not make any connection between your eating and who you are as an individual. Your food choices mustn’t make you feel morally superior or inferior.
You should take a neutral approach to take information from all valid sources and put it into place for a healthy balanced lifestyle.
In order to achieve authentic health it is important to stay attuned to messages sent by your body while taking into account different external guidelines by nutritional experts.
Ask yourself how you critically evaluate whether your source of nutritional information is valid and whether you evaluate how this information will make you feel physically and emotionally when put in place on top of this.
You will likely have achieved authentic health if you have evaluated the validity of nutritional guidelines, you have integrated them into your life without stress or anxiety and you honor your physical well-being and can stay in touch with hunger.
Learn Food Wisdom
If you are ready to bring nutritious food into your life, now is the time to learn about food wisdom. If not you can come back to this when you feel more comfortable.
Reflect on what comes to mind when you think about the words variety, moderation, and balance.
Having a variety of food gives us an abundance of nutrients and stops us from getting bored with the food. Think about how you could add variety to your diet.
As you have already learned the other principles of Intuitive Eating, there is a high chance that you are already eating more moderately, however, if not then think about which principle of Intuitive Eating you could improve upon.
It is important to have a balance of foods throughout the week as there is no need to be fixated on having a full balance of nutrients with each meal. Think about whether you have an adequate balance of nutrients throughout the week or if are there some areas you may need to fix.
If you are interested to learn more about Intuitive Eating, continue reading:
- Ditch The Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace With Food
- Challenge The Food Police
- Feel Your Fullness
- Discover The Satisfaction Factor
- Cope with Your Feelings Without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise: Feel the Difference
- Honour Your Health: Feel the Difference
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