Author Archive for Katherine

Intuitive Eating: What It Is and What It Isn’t

A quick google search produces hundreds of results related to “intuitive eating,” the 10 principles, some how-tos, and success stories. As important as these points are in understanding the mechanics of this food philosophy, they don’t always give a felt sense of what it’s like to eat in a natural way.

In the simplest terms, intuitive eating means using your body’s feedback to guide your eating decisions. It’s something that happens, not something you control. It’s instinctual, ancient, and primal, yet highly sophisticated in its balance of hormone-driven cues and pleasure-driven rewards. It is basic human physiology in collaboration with both the rational and emotional minds.

Yes, it’s the name of an awesome book and proven system to help people get off the diet train, but intuitive eating is something deeper, something truly valuable. Once you get it back, you don’t ever want to give it up again. You will protect it at all costs.

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Three Reasons Women Who are Done with Dieting Struggle with Mindful Eating

It’s easy to get frustrated with all the conflicting weight loss advice. And even more confusing to sort through the information on how to stop dieting. Methods like intuitive and mindful eating sound great initially, but for some, it’s just as hard to continue those habits as it is to stay on a diet. Even research tells us that one of the biggest reasons diets don’t always work is that they are all but impossible to stick with (file that under obvious, right?).

Most diets are not meant to be permanent lifestyle changes. You do it for ten days, maybe 30, and eventually go back to normal eating. For most people, if the food restrictions go on for too long, any weight lost comes with a heavy price. With each new food restriction comes a barrier to freedom and missed opportunities to connect with others. Once these secondary consequences start to affect your well-being, the diet is now a big problem. Click here for a post on how to start the process.

By the same token, if new habits from mindful eating do not weave themselves into your lifestyle, you may come up empty on that count, too. When it feels like a chore or another thing you have to do, it’s really hard to stick with it. But just like with food, it’s the general approach to mindful eating that makes all the difference.

Why the struggle?

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Meal Plan, Schmeal Plan…

It can be scary to relearn how to eat intuitively and shockingly easy to forget, even after just a few months of a restrictive diet. These regimes usurp the powers of choice and self trust when making food decisions. The diet tells you when to eat, making your hunger cues irrelevant. It tells you how much to eat, making your fullness cues moot. It tells you what to eat, and more sinisterly, what not to eat, snuffing out the final candle on your inner intuitive eater.

But how are you supposed to just drop all the rules and restrictions and start listening to your body again? Advice to just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full is confusing because you may not remember the last time you paid attention to that. Plus, it’s unlikely that your body is sending you reliable cues at all. Not to mention the uncomfortable feelings that surface around hunger and fullness. Add in food fears and distrust and it’s no wonder people struggle making the leap from rigid diets to attuned eating.

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Whole Body Love

Many of us, men and women, are resistant to the idea of loving our bodies. It seems so foreign. Sometimes even wrong. Learning to love your body can be a tangled endeavor, fraught with destructive emotions and uncertainty. Part of the difficulty is due to our natural bias toward the negative; therefore, we tend to get hung up on the parts of our bodies we don’t like, rather than celebrate those we do. We really get stuck when we compare ourselves to others and assign a value judgment to our appearance, which creates a better than/ less than dichotomy.

When we focus on things we don’t like, we often feel compelled to fix or change those things in order to feel better about ourselves. Unsurprisingly, the diet and self-improvement industries are founded on this kind of self-deprecation. But what if we let those uncomfortable parts just be for awhile and learn to take a more realistic view of the body?

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What Should I Actually Eat?!

It is so easy to get overwhelmed by food decisions. Whether it’s an absurd number of options at home and the workplace or our options seem limited, we tend to rationalize the heck out of deciding what to actually eat.

The problem is that the rational mind alone doesn’t do a great job of feeding the body.  It is awash with rules and shoulds and limits that often interfere with the part of us that truly does know what to eat: the body itself. The ultimate goal of eating intuitively or mindfully is to be present in the body in order to use its feedback when making food decisions, tempered by the logic of the rational mind when necessary.

Essentially, food decision-making comes down to balancing wants and shoulds, with the primary mediator being the body. For example, maybe your mouth genuinely wants ice cream all the time, but you know you really ought not repeatedly indulge that desire because that won’t promote good health in the long run (and you might get a tummy ache). The truth is that if you are really listening to your body, it won’t want ice cream all the time.

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Out of the Oven and Into the World

Every two weeks I get a box of “ugly” produce delivered to my door from a company that distributes fruits and vegetables deemed unsuitable for market. Last week, the box was full of my least favorites as I had missed the customization window for that shipment. Beets, grapefruit, rutabaga, curly kale, frisée, radishes. Reading that list now, it doesn’t sound so terrible, but at the moment, I wasn’t looking forward to eating those things.

My love of cooking isn’t about creating intricate dishes with a dozen ingredients and using fancy techniques. My skill is to take what is available and turn it into something beautiful, delicious, nourishing, and satisfying. In fact, the feeling that usually follows the thought, “What am I going to do with all this produce?” is the excitement of rising to the challenge.

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