by Lena Schmidt: What goes into your body not only feeds your physical body, but also your spirit. As you think about what you eat and drink, consider taking a step back for an intuitive approach…
Eating intuitively can nourish your body, mind, and spirit and also invite renewal. Honoring your inner wisdom is an act of courage. In a world that constantly and consistently tells you that you are not enough, that being you is wrong, and that you just need to buy this cream, or take this supplement, or sign up for this course to be fixed (phew!), deciding how to be you-as you are-is revolutionary.
From birth, you are told—through advertisements, social media, your families, and all aspects of capitalist culture—that in order to belong, you must eat this and not that or to look like this and not that. To choose otherwise actively rebels against the damaging byproducts of capitalism, racism, able-ism, sexism, homophobia, and the way things are. Letting go of outgrown habits and prescribed conceptions of how, when, where, with whom, and what you should eat can bring about a renewed sense of self.
Introducing Intuitive Eating
If you are choosing a path of renewal, especially at a time when many people in the world are actively unlearning diet culture, racism, sexism, and separateness, consider eating intuitively. According to the ten 10 principles of intuitive eating developed by nutrition experts Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, eating intuitively involves such things as:
- Paying attention to cues of hunger and satisfaction
- Challenging the food police
- Coping with your emotions with kindness
- Respecting your body
- Making peace with food
“‘People who score high on intuitive eating have more body appreciation, they enjoy their eating better, they have less disordered eating’ such as restrictive eating, meal skipping, chronic dieting, and feelings of guilt and shame about food,” says Tribole, co-author of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. The practice of choosing what to eat according to the subtle messages of your body and tuning into the deep knowing within your gut can help you follow this inner wisdom in other areas of your life as well. When you follow your personal compass and get reacquainted with your deepest desires, as life coach Martha Beck invites you to do in her book, Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live, you’ll find more opportunities to live the best life you can imagine.
By paying close attention to the signals your body offers, such as stomach cramps, rashes, brain fog, or those mornings of “I don’t feel very good,” choose foods that instead help you feel awake, alive, and satiated. Honor the beautiful container your spirit has been given.
Consider Your Approach
Think about how you choose what to eat.
- Do you eat anything you crave?
- Do you eat what other household members have around?
- Do you restrict what you eat based on a certain lifestyle diet (such as keto, paleo, raw, or vegan)?
- Are you limited by what foods are accessible in your area?
- Are you limited by food allergies or sensitivities?
- Do you decide what to consume based on your religious practices?
None of these are wrong ways to choose what to eat! Given the “omnivore’s dilemma,” as journalist Michael Pollan writes, you have infinite, abundant nourishment options as a human and can likely survive on whatever you eat (yep, even all the processed stuff with poisonous additives). But eating intuitively includes honoring and respecting your body, which is different than only listening to every grumble your belly makes. Eating intuitively means that you might have an intuitive hit/premonition/gut instinct that if you have that third bowl of cereal you may feel sick. You could then choose to have that third bowl or not have that third bowl.
There is no wrong choice. The moment of insight comes when you have the awareness, the intuitive hit that you could have that third bowl of cereal or not even though you know you may feel sick afterwards. The practice is in noticing the thoughts and making choices from that subtle awareness, rather than autopilot, habit, or from an outside influence.
What You’ll Gain by Intuitive Eating
As you start a new process of learning to listen to your body with regards to nourishment, you continue on your lifelong journey of self-love. If you are aligned with the subtle body it will start to say yes or no when you think of, or look at, a particular food or drink. You may wake up one day and decide never again to have a drop of alcohol. You may wake up one day and know for sure that a cucumber salad for lunch will give you energy today. Maybe you’ll start growing a garden of the foods that help you feel best!
By claiming all parts of yourself, the parts that need mint chip ice cream and the parts that need to cut out red meat (take a moment to feel into each of those statements—what happened in your body when you read the suggestion to allow yourself the pleasure of ice cream or the encouragement to stay away from meals that you enjoy?), you’ll practice taking a holistic approach to well-being, which will have ripple effects in other areas of your life.
Other positive side effects of eating intuitively include rebuilding your body image, tuning into your brain-gut connection, renewing your gut microbiome, connecting to your culture and ancestors, and even reclaiming your money and time by going on an “anti-diet.”
Renew yourself from the inside out by eating whatever you want, whenever you want. Buck the system that tries to control the perfection that you are by going on an anti-diet. Nourish your spirit by releasing outside expectations and staying true to yourself. May your plate and palate be filled with color and delight.