Intuitive eating has been making waves lately and I have to say I am pretty happy about it. I think some people are wary of intuitive eating because it sounds a little woo-woo (listening to my intuition? What does it know about nutrition?). It also sounds a little terrifying (noÂ eating rules and just listening to what the body wants? Hell no). At first, itÂ sounds like a perfect recipe for fulfilling a lot of cravings for junk food. There will be some of that, but more often than not, what the body actually wants is whole foods. Your body wants vegetables, fruit, whole grains and quality sources of protein. Your body knows when to eat and how much. The problem doesnâ€™t lie with your natural eating instincts (nutrition intuition), the problem is we are no longer in tune with these instincts. We are no longer listening to our bodies. We have transformed a physical process (eating) into a mental construct, choosing to eat based on theories and data instead of listening to our bodies about what it naturally needs and wants.
Another way to think of intuitive eating is….normal eating. Intuitive eating asks you to do away with all of your food restrictions, obsessions and concerns. Instead, you will learn to listen to your body and the cues it is giving you regarding when to eat, when to stop and what to feed yourself. Aside from allergies, no food is off limits. You donâ€™t have to stop eating at a certain time or after so many calories. You donâ€™t have to eat x number of meals, or space them for a specific amount of time. The plan is to do away with obsessions about what to eat and just eat what you want; what your body knows it needs. The concept is to stop the restrict-binge cycle by eliminating any restrictions. When we allow ourselves to freely indulge in the foods we crave, we naturally self-regulate. Otherwise, the tendency is to avoid foods until the breaking point is hit and then a binge ensues, only to be followed by a guilt ridden restriction and self-shame fest. People without food issues arenâ€™t thinking about what to eat and when all the time, they arenâ€™t concerned with strictly adhering to what they should or should not eat - they just eat! Yes, training for goals is a little different, there are specific requirements, but for the lovely average person, intuitive eating is an excellent nutrition strategy. Just eat real food when you are hungry, enjoy an indulgence when you truly want it; no guilt, no shame, just you treating your body with respect and trusting in itâ€™s wisdom.
When I am not in go-mode (aka prepping for compeition) and counting macros, I am eating intuitively. It can be a bit of a process transitioning from counting every calorie and weighing every morsel of food to letting that all go and listening to my body, but itâ€™s worth it. I trust that my body knows what it wants, I trust in my innate desire to be healthy and fit. Itâ€™s nice to be able to relax about food and eat what I want when I want. You know what the best part is? My body really does know best. I maintain a healthy weight, a great social life, I donâ€™t feel guilty about my food and I get to eat a wide variety of foods (everything from uber healthy foods to satisfying my sweet tooth). All the stress of worrying about my food that I have on prep is gone, which makes a very big and positive impact on my mental health. With my clients, I use a combination of macros and intuitive eating. Macros can be an excellent tool for learning about food, nutrient values and portion sizes. I encourage clients to start listening to their bodyâ€™s while using macros - paying attention to cravings, eating habits, satiety signals and assessing their food relationship. This allows them to learn about their bodyâ€™s needs and signals within a semi-controlled environment. Macros are wonderfully flexible, so clients are able to begin listening to their bodyâ€™s in regards to eating when they want and to a large extent what and how much they desire. When ready (either they are feeling confident in their understanding of food and self-awareness, or they have achieved the goal for which, macros were required) I recommend a transition to intuitive eating. I will be sharing some steps to transition to intuitive eating in an upcoming post. For now, I recommend that you start tuning into your body. Notice when you are hungry, when you are full. What foods do you crave (note that itâ€™s not always junk). Start paying attention to when you feel guilty about what you eat and dig a little deeper into why. This process will help you prepare for the transition.
Now, this weekâ€™s meal prep….
This weekâ€™s meal prep has got me all excited. Thereâ€™s lots of sweet potato going on, vegan/gf pot pies and a salad I am jonesing to try. I have also re-discovered and fallen in love with chia seed puddings all over again. I generally do my workouts fasted, but with the most recent change in protocol plus a cut in macros that has me going to bed hungry and waking up starving, I had to find something to put in my belly before heading to the gym. I needed something that was energizing and filling without being too heavy. I also didnâ€™t want to dedicate a whack load of macros to this mini-meal, as I have always had this (strange) sentiment about food pre-workout (only since I workout first thing in the morning) as being a waste. Iâ€™m so hungry post-workout I want to save all of my calories for then. Enter chia seed puddings. Low in macros, very filling and chia seeds have natural energy boosting powers that have been helping me get through those gruelling sessions. Perfect.
On the menu this week:
Chia Seed Pudding: (made nightly for the next day) 1tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp
stevia, 1/2c almond milk and sometimes I add PB2
Breakfast: Protein Pancake (1 egg or flax egg, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 banana) or Toast with
PB2 and banana
Sweet Potato and Zuchini Fritters: www.averiecooks.comÂ (I used a lot less butter)
Thyme and White Bean Pot Pies: The Minimalist BakerÂ (again, less olive oil)
Gardein + Sweet Potato “Meat”balls: Loosely based off The Big Manâ€™s World. Weâ€™ve been eating
these with edamame pasta for added protein.
Brussel Sprout + Apple Salad: Iowa Girl EatsÂ (no cheese and I kept the cranberries and pecans
separate for better macro counting and I used apple instead of pear because thatâ€™s
what I had in the house. Also, used less fat than called for).
For snacks: cantaloupe, roasted edamame, celery with PB2, protein shake + greens