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The Reality of Intuitive Eating from a Nutritionist Who "Gets it" Herself

The following is a guest post from @simplytinag

Diet culture is all around us. Ultimately, it’s the constant pursuit of thinness. It’s the idea that looking a certain way means you “made it” in society. Being thin means you’re more accepted in society. It’s essentially the marketing behind all fad diets. It’s that 7-day diet promising rapid results. They show you pictures of chiseled models and you get it in your head that you’re going to look like that - and fast. It’s the calorie counting. The macro counting. The removal of food groups altogether. That ultimate prize of being thin comes with a price. The price of your self-worth. This obsession leads many into disordered lifestyle practices, especially with eating habits. We fall so far down that rabbit hole that seeing a way out feels almost impossible. How does one come out of the hole when self-sabotage pushes us down even further? We think there is something wrong with us because we can’t get it right. We can’t seem to get this one simple thing right. But here’s the thing, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault that everyBODY is different. It’s not your fault everyBODY is literally built differently.

You see, I fell victim to diet culture, as a nutritionist. Oh yeah, it’s a thing! As Christy Harrison calls it, “The Wellness Diet”. Detoxes, cleanses, clean eating, all those concepts, that is diet culture, too. That’s where I fell into it. I thought that being a Holistic Nutritionist meant that I had to eat a certain way, all the time. I had to consume smoothies with copious amounts of kale, make elixirs every morning that had at least seven ingredients, had to eat all the sprouted beans, etc. Not to say that these things are not beneficial to your health, but for me, they led me down that dark rabbit hole that I couldn’t see the light from. I found myself binging on bags of chips, donuts, McDonald’s, all the things, after nutrition class. In the parking lot. In my car, in the dark. I told myself every single time that this was the last time. Monday is a fresh start. It’s a new month in a few days, I’ll start then. I ate really “good” today so it’s ok. I would tell myself these things over and over again for a really long time. I was tired, all the time. My PMS was through the roof. I had acne. I found it hard to control cravings. I started to notice that my clothes were getting tighter. I just wasn’t feeling great in my own skin and I knew that if I continued this way, things would get worse.

I wish I had a be-all-end-all type solution for you but to be honest, I’m kind of glad there isn’t one. EveryBODY is different, therefore, the way we work on our relationship with food is different. There isn’t one size fits all approach and I think that’s what makes intuitive eating so special. Learning to tune into what your body is telling you, is a beautiful thing. They are always speaking to us, whether you’re aware or not. It’s like when you have a fever. That is your body’s way of coming to the rescue! Like a defence mechanism to help you fight an illness. Our body’s know what to do. We just have to lean in a bit and let them work their magic. I wanted to share a few things that have helped me on my intuitive eating journey and have led me to feeling the best I’ve ever felt in my life!

It’s not all or nothing

Eating a donut or a bag of chips once in awhile, ain’t gonna kill you! What it comes down to is how consistent you are over time. If your plate is rocking veggies, some protein, some healthy fats 85% of the time, I’d say you’re doing a damn good job in this world! You don’t have to go all in counting macros, calories, points, taking out food groups, etc. That is not sustainable long-term. Honestly, live your life! Surrendering to this was the best thing I ever did for my health. I’m actually eating a donut right now as I type this.

Food categories are so out

I’m talking “good” vs. “bad” foods. In my opinion, there is no such thing. Putting food into categories is a recipe for a disaster. It’s giving food power over you. We can’t rely on foods in the “good” category to make us healthy. No one food has the power to do this. Just like no one food in the “bad” category makes us unhealthy. Foods that would be in the “good” category like peppers, tomatoes and eggplant could be causing an inflammatory response in some people. So does that make these foods bad now? See what I mean? We have to dismantle this whole categorizing thing because it’s one of the main reasons that people have a tough time with their relationship with food and really understanding it.

Categorizing foods can also lead to binging because when we have a set list of “bad” foods, we want to eat those foods more. It’s like they are forbidden so when we access them, we eat them in excess because we don’t know when we are going to eat them again. Think about the weekend before you start a diet. You go out and eat foods that you can’t eat on your diet because you don’t know when or if you will have them again. It’s like we eat like it’s our last meal on earth.

Listen to the cues

Eat when you’re hungry! I’m serious. Do it. Doesn’t have to be 7am, 12pm, 6pm like we have been conditioned to do. Here’s the thing though. When we restrict ourselves from eating when we’re actually hungry, we’re depriving our bodies of essential nutrients they need to thrive throughout the day. Each macronutrient and micronutrient plays a role and when we fuel our bodies with them, we’re loving up on ourselves big time. When we’re not, this is when we lean into cravings, have mood swings, low energy, etc. This is a great opportunity to check in with ourselves too. If you’re feeling hungry in between meals you can ask yourself “what’s on my plate?”. I use this with my clients to get them into a nourishing rhythm with building solid meals each time. What’s my protein? What’s my fat? What’s my fiber? Having these macronutrients at each meal is going to set your body up for feeling it best! And hey, there will be days when you’re just not feeling like eating much, that’s ok too. You’re honouring what your body needs that day.

All in all, we need to give ourselves permission to live our lives the way we want to. Eat the foods that make you feel amazing. Ditch the foods that don’t. Eat when you want. Drink some wine or don’t. And eat a donut and move on with your life!