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Category: Intuitive Eating

What is Gentle Nutrition?

Many people have the misconception that intuitive eating means not paying attention to nutrition at all. However, the dietitians who came up with the approach did so because they were torn between feeling unethical prescribing diets and feeling unethical not teaching nutrition at all. The final principle in the book is “Honor your Health with Gentle Nutrition,” and I find it to be such a nice way to think about nourishing your body.

Gentle nutrition refers to paying attention to nutrition, and using it as one factor to guide what you eat. However, I said one factor on purpose. We don’t live in a vacuum. We aren’t robots that just eat the same robot crackers every single day, in the same exact amounts. Is it obvious I know nothing about robots? Anyway, the point is we are complex creatures. We have our own metabolic needs, as well as different food preferences, cultures, budgets, and schedules that impact what we want to eat and are able to prepare.

If you don’t like kale (raises hand), you don’t have to! There are plenty of other vegetables out there to enjoy. Gentle nutrition acknowledges that good nutrition is important-it can make you feel better, more energized, and prevent certain diseases. But sometimes we just want a cookie, and it’s fine that it isn’t a nutrition powerhouse. There’s room for that. You are not suddenly going to get a nutrient deficiency if you go a few days without eating something green.

What the Intuitive Eating authors say about gentle nutrition

There’s a whole chapter on that, but I think this first line is a great summary: “Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well.” They also review some basic nutrition principles, but emphasize that this is meant to be used gently, not rigidly. Of course, this looks different to everyone, but here are some examples from my life.

To me, gentle nutrition is…

-Incorporating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into my meals and snacks when possible. But if I’m just not feeling my baby carrots at lunch, I don’t have to eat them. Similarly, if I’m at a cookout and there is no produce in sight, there’s no need to panic.

-Being connected to my body so I can figure out what it needs. I know if I have just a muffin/carbohydrate for breakfast, I’ll likely be hungry pretty soon. So in that case I might pair it with an egg or another protein/fat, or just know that I need to have a snack on hand soon.

-Having whole grain pasta when it sounds good or I feel I haven’t had much fiber that day, but eating white pasta when I just want it and nothing else will satisfy me.

-Adding a vegetable to dinner if the meal we’ve planned doesn’t have one. And I’m not talking steamed vegetables with no seasoning-I prepare them in a way that tastes good to me!

-Understanding that nutrition is not one size fits all, and that what feels best in my body is different than what feels best in someone else’s. I eat dairy and meat, but maybe eating primarily plant based feels good and gentle to you. You do you.

Overall, I eat what makes me feel good and satisfied. Eating fruits and veggies makes me feel good, and so does having dessert when I want it. I lie somewhere between nutrition apathy and nutrition anxiety; it’s great to care about your nutrition and health, but when it interferes with your wellbeing as a person, that’s no good! Food is about nourishment, connection, and celebration. I don’t think there’s any need for it to consume your thoughts or interfere with your happiness.

If nutrition is so important, why is it the last principle of Intuitive Eating?

I think the reason this is a misconception about intuitive eating is because people think, “if I listened to what I wanted to eat, I would just eat insert forbidden food here all day.” I get it-it seems counterintuitive that allowing yourself to eat whatever you want actually can lead to improved nutrition status. It can be hard to figure out how to eat healthfully if you are not following a diet or plan. (Not saying diets are healthy, just that people associate them with eating “healthy.”) That’s one reason why the authors made this the last principle at the end of the book.

If you haven’t worked toward food peace and body acceptance, it’s really difficult to practice gentle nutrition. It’s hard to think about what foods will nourish your body and taste buds if you can’t get away from thinking “this food is ‘healthy’ and will help me lose weight so that’s what I’m going to eat, even if I hate it.” In addition, at the beginning of a journey to a peaceful relationship with food, you may need to explore many of the foods you’ve restricted for so long. Or, you may have the urge to turn basic nutrition guidelines into rigid rules. That’s why the authors suggest focusing on gentle nutrition later.

I would argue that if you make it to the end of the book and work to make peace with your body and food, you won’t really “need” nutrition tips. Sure, it’s good to know basic principles in the back of your mind, but your body is really smart and will tell you what you need. If I don’t have a vegetable for a few days, I start craving them. Isn’t that so cool?! But then again, sometimes I do need to (gently) remind myself to eat some plants since I do have a picky palate and veggies aren’t always what I run to. Ok, I’m getting off topic here.

Final Thoughts

Yes, nutrition is important. But so is your health, which encompasses mental health. In my book, health includes going out for an ice cream cone and not trying to figure out how many calories it contains. It includes going out to dinner to celebrate a loved one and focusing more on conversation and the people rather than the number of vegetables on my plate. It involves including fruits and vegetables into my life because they taste good, they are health promoting, and they keep my digestive system running smoothly.

I never want to shame someone for what they’re eating, or not eating. My goal is not to convince you to eat how I do, or say there’s one right way to eat-because there isn’t. Again, what feels gentle and good differs person to person. My goal is to talk about nutrition and food in a positive and supportive way, and eventually walk alongside clients as they figure out what that looks like for them. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the intuitive eating website, find a dietitian in your area (you can search by expertise at that link), or search for a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor near you (may or may not be a dietitian).

Honor Your Hunger

Hey hey hey!

Somehow I’m over halfway through my public health internship. My schedule has been a lot different this summer and my appetite has been different, too. I’m eating breakfast earlier than normal and I’m not very hungry that early. I eat something small, then pack lots of snacks and a hearty lunch and eat when I need to. Just a note: “eating when I need to” absolutely varies day to day!

Since I’m eating breakfast earlier, I’m finding I need a bigger morning snack than usual, and I need it earlier than usual. Instead of judging my hunger, I’m listening to it and working with it. Before I learned about Intuitive Eating, there were times that this would have scared me. I didn’t think I could trust my body-I had to control it. I would have tried to delay my morning snack because what if I ate my snack now and then I got hungry again before lunch and didn’t have enough calories for that!?

Another example: sometimes I would wait until a certain time to eat lunch, even if I was really hungry. I don’t know why I had this arbitrary rule. Maybe it was because I thought if I ate lunch earlier I would need all the rest of my food earlier in the day and eat more at night? You probably aren’t surprised to hear that making myself wait for food resulted in being consumed by thoughts about food. In the end, I was thinking about food nonstop until I finally ate. Then, I was so hungry that I ate quickly, often ate past comfort, and didn’t even enjoy the meal.

It would be completely outrageous if someone said, “I really need to pee but I’m going to wait another hour,” or “I already peed five times today so I can’t go again.” It’s a funny example, but just like using the bathroom, our bodies let us know when it’s time to eat. We’ve made it so complicated, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. This is something I still have to remind myself. Sometimes I’m still hungry after eating a solid meal, and I’ll wonder why that is. Maybe I ate a little less the day before, the meal before, or maybe my body just wants more food! So in those cases I’ll remind myself that my body is smart and knows what it is doing. My job is simply to respond, so I try to eat when I’m hungry even if the timing seems weird.

I think that honoring your hunger can be a huge step in the direction of intuitive eating and healing your relationship with food. It allows you to see that you can trust your body and that it’s pretty dang smart. You’ll get more in tune and discover what hunger feels like in your body. You can also figure out what feels good to you. Maybe you’re like me, and you’ll find that you need several snacks to keep you going throughout the day. Maybe you’re like my dad, who eats 3 square meals a day and rarely gets hungry for a snack.

Please keep in mind that Intuitive Eating is not a diet. It’s not like “I eat when I am hungry and never any other time.” Sometimes we eat because we’re celebrating something, or the food looks delicious, or because grandma’s homemade bread just popped out of the oven and you just can’t pass on that.

In addition, you’re not a failure if you are hungry and fail to meet that need. I talked about this in last week’s post! It’s just a part of life. Or sometimes you’ll choose not to eat right then. Maybe dinner is an hour away and you feel early signs of hunger, but you want to let it build up to a mealtime hunger. Other times we get busy, or we run out of snacks, or whatever! Intuitive eating is nuanced and flexible and gentle. It is so worth the work to move away from external rules and tune into your own wisdom about when, what, and how much to eat.

Our bodies are smart, and we know how to care for them. In my opinion, honoring your hunger consistently can be a great place to start.

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40 Hours at the Beach

Happy Monday! I’m headed to work for the day, then I’m off for the 4th tomorrow. My sister’s fiancé just moved back to NC from Boston, so we are all hanging out in Charlotte tomorrow! I’m pretty excited, but let’s back it up to the weekend.

On Friday after work, Chip and I loaded up the car (and the dog) and headed to the beach! Although we didn’t have as much time as when we came over spring break, we still had a lot of fun. We also ate some good food, so I’m here to share a bit from our weekend and some thoughts about eating and movement along the way.

We left Friday around 6PM, and I knew I would be hungry soon. However, there were literally 0 snacks in the house that 1-sounded appealing or 2-I hadn’t already had that day. So I left empty-handed with the promise that we would get Chick-fil-A soon. “Soon” turned into 2 hours due to rain/traffic/etc and let me tell you, I was hangry. We finally found a Chick-fil-A that wasn’t too far off the highway, and I was a much nicer person after eating.

I actually have a post sitting in my drafts folder about honoring your hunger. I hope to share it later this week! I thought this was a good example of how sometimes it’s just not possible to honor your hunger, and that’s part of life.

We got to the beach pretty late, so obviously we weren’t going to the grocery store. I knew we would want to eat out most of our meals during our short stay, so we didn’t go on Saturday, either. Chip picked up some Hardee’s biscuits for breakfast. It wasn’t the best biscuit I’ve ever had, but it got the job done. After a few cups of coffee, we headed out to the mall. I was on the hunt for a new bathing suit, and I scored a super cute one piece at Aerie for just $25.

There was a Chipotle nearby, so I had to go. I typically eat there once every week or two, and I have been DYING without it this summer. (I’m living with my parents for my internship and the closest one is an hour away.)

I switched it up a little by adding lettuce, and it was a great decision. It added some crunch and cooled down all the hot salsa I put on there.

After a few hours on the beach, we headed out for dinner. We switched it up from our usual dinner place and went to the Flying Fish Public Market & Grill. If you find yourself in Myrtle Beach soon and you love crab legs, you have to go! We had to wait for a table, so we had a round of drinks and some hushpuppies at the bar. I was already really hungry and knew if I waited until we got a table and our food, I would be miserable and likely get a stomach ache. Sometimes if I get too hungry, or eat too fast, I get some very uncomfortable bloating up near my ribs. Other times it happens for no good reason, but I like to try to avoid that situation by eating before I get too hungry.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had crab legs in my life but these might have been the best I’ve ever had. Oh, I also had a salad which was nothing exciting but it did have Goldfish on it which I thought was really weird and funny.

After dinner, we took Livi out on the beach. It felt perfect out and she had a blast running around.

On Sunday, I took Livi back out for another walk while Chip ran out to get some eggs and bacon. Livi fully enjoyed our walk and she also made some new friends. Belly rubs are her favorite.

Usually I like to run when I’m at the beach, but I didn’t end up running at all this weekend. Running is not enjoyable to me when it’s hot, so I haven’t run outside in about a month. I chose sleep and coffee time over getting up early to beat the heat and I was very happy with that decision. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting up early to exercise if it feels good to you! I do it from time to time, I just didn’t feel like it this weekend.

Years ago, it would have freaked me out to not run X number of days a week. There’s no way I would go a few days without “planned” exercise, even on vacation. Thankfully, I’m in a healthier place with movement now. That doesn’t mean I’m immune to thoughts of “maybe I should be doing more” from time to time, but overall I’m way more relaxed and it feels good.

Anyway, getting back on track..after our walk I had a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and it was great. I decided I wanted to exchange my new bathing suit for a different color, so we went back to the mall. Lunch was mediocre mall Japanese food. Again, it’s not realistic to eat exactly what you want in the moment and what is the most satisfying food all the time! Now I’m back home and resisting Monday like….

Just kidding! It will be a good and short work week. Plus, I’m really enjoying my internship. Y’all have a safe and fun 4th of July!

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Recent Podcast Loves: Nutrition and Body Positivity

Hello there!

The first couple weeks of my internship have been great. I’m getting used to a real adult work schedule and I’m enjoying having the evenings and weekends to myself instead of working on school.

Ok yea, usually I’m just sleeping, but whatever
I feel like I’m bursting with so many blog post ideas but just haven’t taken the time to type up my thoughts. I’ll get there. A lot of this inspiration comes from wonderful podcasts I’ve been listening to lately! I’ve professed my love for podcasts before and included some in my blog post about body positive resources, but I figured it’s time for an update since I’ve found some new ones. I’m including the repeats at the bottom for the sake of having all my favorites in one place.

Love, Food

I’ve mentioned this one in passing in another post, but I’ve listened to a lot lately and just love it. I had a 5 hour drive on Saturday and Julie kept me company for most of that time. The gist is this: listeners write in about their complicated relationship to food, in the form of a letter to food. Julie reads it, offers some of her wisdom and often calls other RD or therapist friends to lend their advice to the letter writer. In the end of the episode, food writes back-and signs it love, food. Ah it is just so good and refreshing. She is a dietitian, but also has a degree in counseling and you can tell. I feel like I’m in a wonderful therapy session when I listen.

The BodyLove Project

I follow Jessie, the host, on Instagram but just started listening to her podcast recently. She is an RD and personal trainer living in Boston, and she’s all about helping you develop a healthier relationship with your body and food. Her first guests were the authors of Intuitive Eating, so I knew it was going to be right up my alley. I’ve only listened to a few of her episodes, but I’ve found them really helpful. It’s especially great for those times you are being hard on yourself/your body. It happens, and this podcast reminds me it’s okay to feel that way and work through it.

RD Real Talk

Heather is a Registered Dietitian and invites other RDs to come on and talk about their career, nutrition perspective, and recent nutrition studies or articles. She is intuitive eating oriented and so are many of her guests. As a nutrition student I enjoy hearing about all the different career paths out there, and I also enjoy Heather’s rapport with her guests. She seems easygoing, and I would totally go drink a margarita with her.

from her Instagram

Others I’ve Mentioned Before:

  • Nutrition Matters
  • Food Psych
  • Dietitians Unplugged
  • Body Kindness

Ok, now I’ve provided you enough listening material for the year. I hope you find one (or more) of these helpful! Let me know if you do and we can start a podcast fan club 🙂

Thursday Favorites

Hello hello!

I had all intentions of posting Friday Favorites last week, but then school got really crazy. Our Maymester class ended on Monday and it was such a blur. I really enjoyed the material (public health nutrition) but it was a lot packed into 2.5 weeks! Now I’m out of the classroom until August 21. Hallelujah! For the next two months, I’ll be in my first Dietetic Internship-public health rotation. I moved home on Tuesday and today’s my first day!

To get the day kicked off on a fun note, here are some things I’ve been doing and loving over the past couple weeks.

Celebrating Chip’s Birthday

Chip’s birthday was on Memorial Day, but we celebrated the next day since I was driving back to school. His ultimate favorite restaurant ever is Outback, but to my surprise he wanted to eat at Zinburger! I’ve shared about eating there before, I’m sure. We are pretty boring and tend to stick with the places we know we love. I’m trying to make us be more adventurous, but since we were both moving to our hometown for the summer we decided to hit up all our favorites that week.

Usually we both get the buffalo chicken sandwich, but I had just had that at another place two days before. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I wanted, so I ordered three things 🙂 I got a large wedge salad, then ordered two “sharables” although I certainly didn’t share much mac and cheese. It had this crunchy stuff on top and was so good. Am I a food critic yet?

what a cutie!
Shoutout to intuitive eating, though, because it is so nice to go to a restaurant, order whatever I want, eat how much I want, and enjoy every bite. In my body obsessed days I would have tried to figure out how many calories were in all of it, probably eat something unsatisfying then spend all night trying not to give into my hunger if it came up. Nowadays eating out is fun, not scary.

(Almost) Growing Red Bell Peppers

I might have mentioned this, but a few months ago school was giving out plants as part of some nutrition day celebration. I snagged a red bell pepper plant and then was like… wait I don’t have a yard why did I get this!? So I asked the Interwebs what I needed and then bought some plant supplies. Now I am SO close to having bell peppers! I think. There are 4 or 5 places where you can tell one is going to grow, so I’m just waiting for them to break through. I’ve never grown anything or kept any plant alive, so this is pretty exciting for me. If I’m successful, expect me to never shut up about it.

Yummy Green Beans

A couple weeks ago I found some green beans in my freezer. I made them and was very sad about how watery they were, so I bought some fresh ones and ended up making the best green beans ever. Ok, that’s a bold statement, but they are pretty good. I didn’t measure anything, and it depends on how much you are making and what you like, but here’s a general outline of how I make them.

I fill a pan with water to cover the bottom, then dump in enough green beans to cover the bottom of the pan. After they cook for 5-10 minutes, I drain the water and add butter and minced garlic and stir everything up. The best ones are the ones covered in garlic. I also add a few cranks of my favorite Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning grinder and some salt. I let that cook for 10-15 minutes and eat at least a handful while they cook 🙂 They are best right after cooking, but they heat up well too.

Moving Home for the Summer

Although I’m going to miss living in Durham for the next two months, hanging with my parents all summer is going to be really nice. They have two little pups, and Livi is happy to have some buddies. Plus I have lots of family and Chip’s family here, too, so extra time with them is always appreciated. My parents and I have already established that Friday evenings will be for drinking wine on the porch. They have been cooking with Hello Fresh three times a week, so I’m excited to try it out.

lunch outside with mom yesterday
And on that note, I’m signing off for the day! Have a great one.

Grocery Haul, Dinners, and Why I Share What I Eat

Happy Saturday!

I made it through three days of my Maymester class- well, two half days and one whole day, close enough. Anyway, I haven’t done a grocery haul and dinner post in a while, so I wanted to this week! I also saw something on Instagram recently that made me question why I even share what I eat, so I’ll discuss that at the end.

Until this week, I hadn’t cooked dinner in a while. I was stressed with exams, my dog having a seizure, and I just didn’t want to! It happens. So I went with it and had take out, leftovers from the freezer, and cereal for dinner a few times. This week I felt ready to cook, but I didn’t really want to meal plan. I knew I wanted to make tacos, so I got stuff for that and then just stocked up on staples so I could throw something together other nights. Spoiler alert: this week’s dinners weren’t that exciting, but they were good.

What I Bought

This week’s groceries were about $55. I use the Cartwheel app every time I go to Target, and this time I had a coupon to use. $10 off groceries-score! The only thing I’ve bought outside of this all week was a coffee one day and Chick-fil-A for lunch on Friday. Chip bought most of the food for Monday’s dinner, but this covered all my meals other than that.

Dinners this Week

Sunday- turkey burgers, mac & cheese, asparagus

Grilling season is here and I am so excited. I have nothing against beef (see: tacos below) but I really don’t like cheeseburgers. It’s weird, because I like most other forms of red meat. So Chip made us turkey burgers and he gave me a hard time for being extremely boring. I literally just had a turkey patty and cheese, but that’s the way I like it! I did dip it in ranch dressing. He also grilled the asparagus and I was in charge of the hard task of making boxed mac and cheese. 🙂

Tuesday- taco Tuesday!

I love making tacos because they are so easy and delicious. Sometimes I use beef, other times I use turkey. They pretty much taste the same to me in tacos. This week, I had a coupon for a pound of ground beef, so that’s what I used. I sautéed onion, garlic, and beef with Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, then added a can of diced tomatoes. I had whole wheat tortillas already, so that’s what I used, but I prefer white flour or corn for tacos. They were still very good.

I also had tortilla chips, queso, and salsa. Chip was gone this day, but I had to break into his apartment to use his printer so I also stole his jar of queso.

Wednesday- burrito bowl

I turned my taco filling into a burrito bowl on Wednesday. I made some brown rice, stirred in the beef and tomatoes from Tuesday, and added some black beans. This was delicious but I was still hungry after, so I had chips/queso/salsa. Some days I’m hungrier than others, and this was one of those days. Rather than be like “dang, I shouldn’t still be hungry, I just had plenty of food!” I was like “Ok, I’m still hungry let’s get some more food.” Being kind to yourself > judging yourself.

Thursday- salad and pasta

I had a bunch of salad left over that I made earlier in the week for lunch, so I ate that. It had mixed greens, feta cheese, cucumber, broccoli, red pepper, carrots, bacon, and ranch that I added after the picture. I knew that wouldn’t fill me up (I need carbs!), so I made some pasta that I already had and added a jar of pasta sauce. Groundbreaking stuff, I know, but it was surprisingly good.

Friday- roasted broccoli and leftover pasta

Last night I had leftover pasta and roasted some broccoli. Like usual, I put frozen broccoli right into the oven at 400° F. After 15 minutes, I added some seasonings, then I put it back in for 15 more minutes. This meal was delicious but not super filling, and I ended up hungry about an hour later. So I had some ice cream and it was great.

Bonus Thoughts

I just searched for like 5 minutes and can’t even find the Instagram post that sparked this thought, but oh well. Basically I started thinking, “Why am I sharing what I eat if intuitive eating/my approach is all about everyone doing what feels best in their own body?” I’ve thought about this all week and have a few answers. I love food and think it’s important to highlight that food is meant to be enjoyed. Often times I see recipes on Instagram that are like “high protein muffin cake! only X grams of carbs and fat!” And there’s no mention of the taste. It’s like we water down food to numbers and manipulate it so we can try to manipulate our bodies.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that a recent study found Instagram use is linked to increased symptoms of orthorexia (source). That is a whole convo for another day, but basically orthorexia nervosa is an unhealthy obsession with eating “healthy” food. Some of the big “health” accounts that pop up in my explore feed make me cringe because I know the harm they can do to some people. Bottom line: I want to promote food peace, not food fear. I care about my health, and eating a variety of foods is key for me.

When I was starting to learn about intuitive eating it was so helpful to see what bloggers/people I follow who are into intuitive eating were eating. I’m not saying you should follow someone and copy what they eat-you gotta do you! But it was helpful to follow people who did not have food rules and were just kinda like, “Here’s something I ate and then I got on with my life.”

via Kylie

That really helped me see that no food is inherently good or bad, and all foods have a place in my life. I can go out for ice cream because I want it and not think twice about it. In contrast, I used to look up nutrition info first, feel guilty while I ate it, and regret it after. I had good intentions and just wanted to be “healthy,” but I took it too far. It felt restrictive and made me anxious about eating certain foods. I want to show that caring about your health and nourishing your body does not need to be that way. Food should bring joy and satisfaction. Also, caring about my health encompasses mental and emotional health, so there’s no room anymore for restriction or punishment!

Hopefully all of that made some sense. While I don’t feel like I need to justify my actions, I did want to discuss this question because it really made me think! If you made it this far-congrats, and have a great weekend. 🙂

Spring Break Eats + Vacation Without Guilt

Hello hello!!

I’m currently on spring break and it has been wonderful. Last Thursday through Sunday, I was in Savannah, GA, for a bachelorette trip. It was absolutely perfect! Then I came home for a couple of days, and now I’m at the beach with Chip and the dog.

I’ve been eating a lot of delicious food today, so indulge me while I share with you. Also, I want to talk about vacationing without panicking about food and exercise before/during/after.

Food in Savannah

One of the most fun things we did on the trip was a pub trolley during the afternoon on Friday. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the beach, then changed and went straight to the pub trolley. By some small miracle we put together this meal after all that fun and it was so good.

Don’t be fooled, we picked up those amazing looking garlic knots from Mellow Mushroom.

Saturday morning we had a brunch at the house, complete with a mimosa bar. Later in the day, we went to some rooftop spots and I ate several pieces of the buffalo flatbread on the right. Can’t beat the view-Savannah is so pretty!

Food at Home

I probably had 5 salads this winter, and I didn’t make any of them. Salads aren’t as appealing to me in the colder months, and I can never find dressing I like. The salad we made on the bachelorette trip was so good and I wanted to recreate it at home, so I decided to give packet ranch a try. I heard it’s the closest you can get to thin restaurant ranch, which is the best kind. I used one packet Hidden Valley ranch mix, 1 cup whole milk, and 1/2 cup mayo (I actually hate mayo), and it turned out perfect. Sure, I could probably make it all from scratch with no additives but I ain’t got time for that. And I doubt it would taste as good. Yep, I just dedicated an entire paragraph to ranch dressing and I’m not mad about it.

I made a quick grocery run on Sunday then threw together the plate on the left. The mac n cheese was already in my pantry, but I bought salad stuff, the ranch packet, and a rotisserie chicken. The chicken was delicious, only $6, and I used it in at least 4 meals this week. Win!

Lunches Monday-Wednesday looked like the salad on the right. It’s full of mixed greens, cucumber, celery, red pepper, carrots, broccoli, chicken, feta, and ranch. One day it didn’t quite fill me up, so I had the rest of the mac and cheese. Another day I was stuffed. Our bodies know what we need.

Beach Eats

Every time we come to Chip’s parents’ place at Myrtle Beach, we eat at this place called Mr. Fish. We went Wednesday night once we got in and it did not disappoint.

I had wine (duh), unpictured she-crab soup, a salad that was just ok, and boom boom shrimp that were so yummy. I also had a side of mac and cheese with my shrimp but it was awful! Like, how do you screw up pasta and cheese? So I had some of Chip’s fries instead.

A Word on Vacation and Guilt

In the past, vacation often stressed me out. Leading up to it, I would try to eat less and exercise more. During vacation I felt guilty when I “splurged.” I felt out of control over certain foods and often ate past fullness, because I didn’t know when I would eat them again. (Also, I often restricted before vacation which tends to make you hungry and feel out of control around food.) After vacation I would vow to “clean up my diet” and hit the gym more.

Now I have given myself unconditional permission to eat, and there are no “good” or “bad” foods. I order what I want, whether that’s a salad, a fried shrimp dish, or both. I know I can eat these foods anytime I want, so I don’t feel like I have to eat it all. I can stop when I’m full, or I can keep eating if I want. The bottom line is that I listen to my body and I’m flexible, and I don’t associate guilt with food. (This applies to my regular life too, but I’m focusing on vacation here.)

In Wilmington last year

The same goes for exercise. Now that I exercise as a means of self-care rather than self-control, I don’t freak out if I miss several days of running or the gym. Sometimes I will run, walk, or lift weights on vacation, but I don’t HAVE to. Not worrying about calories, exercise, or being “bad” on vacation makes it so much easier to fully relax and enjoy myself when I’m on a fun trip. Also-of course you’ll probably eat out more and have more drinks and treats when you’re on vacation. That’s what vacation is for! It’s a time to explore new areas and foods and switch it up from the regular routine. Enjoy it fully!

Spoiler alert: I’m not perfect, whatever that even means. Sometimes the food police catch up to me. After eating at Mr. Fish, I was eating Ben and Jerry’s from the container (as one does) and took a peek at the nutrition facts label. Bad idea! Suddenly I was worried about fat and sugar and things I usually don’t worry over. I was mad at myself for caring! I turned the label away and focused on my internal cues of fullness and satisfaction. I used those to help me decide when to stop eating rather than an external cue (the label), but it was harder than usual. Intuitive eating / making peace with food is a lifelong process, and we are always learning! Don’t let experiences like the one I described get you down-you’re not doing it wrong! There’s no such thing.

And with that, I’m heading back to the rest of my spring break. Today is the warmest day of the weekend-high of 59!- so we are planning on actually going on the beach today. My dog is dying to get out on the beach (yep, she told me), so I’m excited to take her out there. Have a great weekend!!

What Intuitive Eating Looks Like for Me (Yesterday’s Eats)

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a good week. Today I have one more class then I’m going home to celebrate my dad’s birthday and my sister’s first wedding shower. Wahoo! But first, I wanted to share what I ate yesterday. I do not share this to suggest that the way I eat is perfect or that you should eat like I do. Quite the opposite. Tuning into your own wisdom about how to nourish your body and relationship with food may yield an eating pattern that looks totally different from what I eat.  I share this to show what intuitive eating looks like for me, in real life.

I’ve written about intuitive eating here several times, so I won’t rehash all that. However, I suspect some people may have read those posts and then thought–“Ok, that’s all fine and dandy, but what does that actually look like?” It looks different for everyone, and it looks different for me every day!

Yesterday I was in class 11-5, with a long break in the middle, so I had to plan ahead. I couldn’t just wait and see what I crave, and I definitely didn’t eat without distractions. Friendly reminder that intuitive eating is NOT a diet. There are no rules and there’s no way to mess up. Simply put, it’s tuning into your internal cues of hunger and fullness, your food preference, and how food makes you feel rather than following an external set of rules.

Breakfast

I woke up around 7:15 and had breakfast shortly before 8am. I went to my apartment gym at 8:30, so I wanted to give myself some time to let it settle.

Don’t be fooled, I ate this on the couch watching the Today show.

I had what I have most days-oatmeal cooked with milk, with cinnamon, raisins, and crunchy peanut butter mixed in. So good and satisfying! Oh, and coffee with half & half, obviously.

In the past, I used almond milk in my oatmeal. I didn’t really like it. I just thought it was healthier because it was lower in calories and sugar. If you like almond milk or can’t/don’t eat dairy, that may be a good option for you! But I’ve found that I enjoy oatmeal with regular milk much more, so that’s what is healthiest for me.

Snacks

I packed all of the snacks you see here for school. And more coffee. Sometimes I eat everything I pack, but I didn’t yesterday. We have a little cafe/quick stop store at school, and sometimes I’ll get a snack there, but I try to pack my own to save money! Seriously, a KIND bar costs an arm and a leg.

Right when I got to school at 10:30, I was hungry so I had the banana and cheese. My first class ends at 12:15 and the next starts at 12:30, so on these days I just snack if I’m hungry and wait to eat lunch later. Yesterday I ate the bag of crackers during that class. It sounds boring but the Trader Joe’s Multigrain ones are pretty good. And not as loud or smelly to eat as my turkey sandwich and carrots.

Lunch

Picture taken at home, but eaten at school. Anyone spot a little puppy?

Finally!! 1:45 came and it was time for lunch. Yesterday it was a turkey sandwich with cheddar cheese and spinach on whole wheat bread. I also packed baby carrots and peeled clementines in my favorite sandwich box. My last class was at 3:30, then I headed home.

I ended up not being hungry for the almonds or apple, so those went back into the pantry/fridge.

Dinner

Chip came over and we had leftovers for dinner, but I also roasted some broccoli to go with it. We were both hungry, so we had the chips and salsa (x2) you see below while we waited.

If you love salsa, go buy Pace Picante Medium. It will not disappoint!

 

I always take the placemats away for dinner. We are both too messy.

We had dinner around 7, and it was leftover chili from Tuesday and roasted frozen broccoli. It’s the easiest thing ever. I set the oven to 400°, and after a few minutes when it was thawed, I added olive oil, salt, pepper, and some Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and put it back in for a bit longer. It’s very scientific 🙂 I shared the chili recipe over on my Instagram the other day if you’re interested!

One Final Snack

Some nights I don’t have a snack, some nights I do. Last night was a night that I did. I got hungry around 10:30, so I had a bowl of cereal then went to bed.

Peanut Butter Puffins-hadn’t had this in a while and it hit the spot.

The End

Overall, I really don’t eat that much differently than before I discovered intuitive eating. I had already rejected the diet mentality and did not restrict many foods. However, my relationship with food has really improved for the better. I don’t want to give off the impression that I have it all figured out-fostering a healthy relationship with food is a lifelong process.  I consider nutrition as I make most food choices (not all-sometimes I just want a dang cookie and I’m not concerned about what nutrients it gives me), but I don’t let it rule my life. It’s very freeing and has left me with a lot of brain space to focus on more important things, like memorizing biochemistry reactions for school. And a lot of other more fun things, too.

What is Intuitive Eating? Part 2

Hello there!

I hope your 2017 is off to a great start and that you were able to enjoy the holidays with those you love. Today I’m picking up where I left off with my intuitive eating overview. Part 1 can be found here. I wasn’t sure if I would get this post up today, then within 20 minutes of a morning TV show, Bob Harper told me to weigh myself every day and weigh everything I eat. Then, a dietitian came on and PROMISED me I’ll lose weight if I use the hunger and fullness scale. So, I wanted to do my part and put a more positive message out there-one that encourages you to tune external messages out and listen to yourself as the expert of your own body.

Principle 6: Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Satisfaction is the driving factor of the intuitive eating process. You might be afraid you won’t stop eating if food is pleasurable, but remember that deprivation is a key contributor to backlash eating. If your order a salad when you really want steak (or vice versa), you won’t be satisfied by that meal. I know when I do this, I find myself on a food chase later in the day, trying to find a food that will truly satisfy me.

Chili with cheese is definitely satisfying

One quote I loved from this chapter is, “If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it.” Again, this is not a rule! Sometimes I eat food I don’t love-whether that’s because I don’t have better options or I can’t pinpoint what I really want. Sometimes I turn down food because I’m full or I really don’t like that food. You have the right to do what’s best for you.

Principle 7: Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food

Food is meant to be enjoyable, fun, and is a way to bring people together and celebrate big events. It can be comforting at times, but you don’t want food to be the only way you cope with pain and loneliness. Sometimes food might be the only way you know to deal with a tough situation. Give yourself grace and acknowledge that food can help you at times, but also seek out other ways to work through your emotions.

Principle 8: Respect Your Body

Accept your genetic blueprint. The authors write, “Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation about body size.” This doesn’t mean you should disregard your health; it means the complete opposite! Take care of yourself and the body you have right now through gentle nutrition and movement from a place of self-compassion, rather than self-control. Let your weight settle where it may (hello, Health at Every Size!).

Truth from @thereallife_rd

I’ve discussed my journey to body respect on here before, so I know this step is easier said than done. I still have days I struggle with this-body acceptance requires work throughout life. Respect is the beginning of making peace with your body. You don’t have to like or love every part of your body to treat it with respect.

Principle 9: Exercise-Feel the Difference

Exercise because of how moving your body makes you feel-not to burn calories or as penance for eating. Regular movement is beneficial for everyone, regardless of age or weight. Among other benefits, exercise is energizing, reduces stress, and improves fitness and quality of life.  If you feel the difference when you exercise regularly, why would you stop?

Running is my happy place, and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it

The key here is to find movement you enjoy. So often exercise is viewed as a chore and people think you have to crank out hours in the gym to reap benefits. That’s not true! Activities as simple as walking and gardening benefit your mental and physical health. If you do enjoy cranking out hours in the gym, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work out more to feel good, but don’t let it consume you and interfere with your life.

Principle 10: Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

I absolutely love the concept of gentle nutrition. Nutrition is an important part of health and plays a role in preventing chronic disease. Hello, I’m in school for this for a reason! However, I don’t believe it’s necessary for us to be so obsessed over food. There’s a lot of fear about food in our country and insane amount of conflicting advice. This is partially due to the fact that nutrition science is relatively new and not set in stone. It’s regularly evolving and there’s no “perfect” way to eat! In addition, food preference and access to food is highly individual.

The authors suggest balancing your body’s cues and nutrition guidelines with the pleasure of eating. They discuss the following nutrition recommendations:

  • Eat enough fruits and vegetables. Eating more of these foods is associated with lower risk of many chronic diseases, especially cancer.
  • Drink enough fluids, especially water.
  • If possible, choose to eat the following foods more often: nutrient dense foods like whole grains, beans, and nuts; a variety of protein-rich foods; quality fats; and whole foods.
Via Christy Harrison-love her podcast

I really like that these guidelines are simple and grounded in solid evidence. I also wanted to share this quote from Elyse Resch: “Much of what I eat considers my health, and sometimes I eat things just for pleasure.” I am considering getting this tattooed on my forehead. Eating foods with low nutritional value does not make you an unhealthy eater. In fact, I would argue the opposite. Sometimes a cookie or slice of cheesecake is just what you need, and I think it’s pretty healthy to have a good relationship with food and be able to honor that craving.

The End

I hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part series on Intuitive Eating. I read the fifth edition, which included two extra chapters: one on raising an intuitive eater, and another on the science behind Intuitive Eating. There are a lot of misconceptions about this approach, so I really enjoyed the chapter on the evidence and the positive health outcomes associated with intuitive eating. Even though I was not a chronic dieter, I have found this book and approach extremely helpful and empowering.

Let me know if you read the book! I think it would make a fabulous New Year’s gift to yourself. If you’ve already read it, did you enjoy it as much as I did?

What is Intuitive Eating? Part 1

Hi everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying the last week of 2016. I’m here today to share about intuitive eating. I learned a lot about intuitive eating this semester, mainly through podcasts, a few mentions in class, and finally reading the book! I’ve been implementing this approach into my life and have evolved into a more intuitive eater. Of course, I’m not a dietitian yet or in a place to give you nutrition advice, so I wanted to approach this topic as a student. Also, of course this approach looks different for everyone (some people like more structure or have medical issues, etc).  I feel like two posts on this can’t do it justice, so if you’re interested I highly recommend reading the book to learn more! Ok, without further ado- here’s my book review of Intuitive Eating (third edition) and my own thoughts on the approach.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch are the two dietitians who coined the term and wrote the book Intuitive Eating in 1995. They didn’t know each other at first, but had a similar journey in private practice. They felt it was unethical to prescribe diets for their clients, but also unethical to ignore the important role nutrition can play in your life. Eventually they found each other and combined their scientific knowledge with psychological principles to come up with intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating is an approach that focuses on tuning into your body’s internal cues of hunger, fullness, and food preference to nurture your body and find your natural weight. We are born knowing how to eat; babies and toddlers eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full for the most part. The authors state that the process of intuitive eating is relearning something we are born with, not learning a new trick. It is NOT a diet or to be used as a tool for weight loss.

Another great account to follow

The authors say that while some of their clients experience weight loss, health and peace with food and your body is the goal. They encourage clients to focus on complete whole-person health as the goal, and put weight on the back burner. This book provides guidelines to find a make peace with food and your body, and to pursue health without restrictive eating and rules. There are 10 principles of Intuitive Eating, and I’m going to discuss the first 5 today. Each one has its own chapter in the book, so if you’re interested in the tidbits I share here definitely consider reading the book!

Principe 1: Reject the Diet Mentality

An overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that diets don’t work, and in fact are harmful in many cases. Research has shown that weight cycling, losing or recycling the same fifteen pounds, may be more harmful that having that weight in the first place. I love the simplicity of this drawing from Kylie. Among other things, dieting (especially chronic dieting) leads to: slower metabolism, increased risk of developing an eating disorder, social withdrawal, and weight gain over the long run.

If you hang onto the diet mentality, it will prevent you from tuning into your body and what you need. If you reject it, you’ll be able to listen to your internal signals AND have a lot more brain space for important and fun things. Win-win.

Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger

I think it’s important to first state that this isn’t a rule!!  Their point with this principle is to eat primarily based off biological hunger, but of course it’s fine to eat if you aren’t hungry.

On the flip side, don’t ignore your hunger. If you’re hungry, your body is telling you that you need food. You wouldn’t deny yourself going to the restroom if you had to pee, would you? It’s a weird example, but I think you get the point. Ignoring hunger often results in becoming ravenous then overeating, which makes you feel like you can’t trust yourself around food. Cue the next diet->binge->guilt->diet cycle.

Principle 3: Make Peace with Food

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. The second you forbid yourself from eating a food, say chocolate cake, it becomes more attractive. Then, when you finally give in and let yourself have the food, you eat a whole cake instead of a slice or two. After all, if you think it’s the last time you’ll have that cake, of course you’re going to overeat!

When you make peace with food, food loses its power and YOU can decide what you truly want, and how much. I know what you’re thinking.. that doesn’t sound healthy to eat whatever you want! It seems counterintuitive, but the authors have found that when people go through the process of making peace with food, they end up balancing their intake naturally. They end up eating mostly nutritious foods with some “play foods.”

In the past, I viewed this cereal as “not healthy.” I would wait and eat it for dessert after dinner. Now I eat it whenever a craving strikes. I usually don’t feel the need to go back for bowl after bowl since it’s no longer a “bad” food I’m indulging in. It’s just food!

Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police

Everywhere we turn, we are told what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat it, and how much. The Food Police, whether it’s your inner voice, someone you know, or a collective societal voice, tells you things like “this food is bad for you” or “don’t eat after 8 pm.” Only you know what foods you like and what works for you. Throw out the idea of foods being “bad” or “good.” When you eat a food you have labeled as “bad,” you feel guilty, and that takes the joy out of eating.

Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness

Respect your fullness rather than clean your plate purely out of habit. I absolutely overeat at times, whether it’s because it’s Thanksgiving or just because the food tastes good and I want to keep eating. However, it would be really uncomfortable to do that every day. When I eat past comfortable fullness, I notice that my stomach hurts and food doesn’t taste as good.

The authors say the key to this is Principe 3: making peace with food. If you know you can have more later, it’s easier to stop eating when you’ve had enough. Another key is conscious eating: rather than eating on autopilot, pay attention to how you feel during a meal. Are you full yet? Does the food still taste good? This may seem burdensome, but I can attest that it becomes natural over time.

Whew! That was a lot. I told you I had a lot of thoughts and feelings, and I could keep going!

You may notice this post is rather void of nutrition talk. The authors purposely focus on nutrition later in the book. They have seen that focusing on nutrition at first can undermine attempts to break free from dieting. Even though I have never been on a true diet, I found these principles applicable to my life. I don’t think there will ever be a day that I don’t have to challenge the Food Police; it’s so pervasive! Anyway, I’ll be back just in time for the New Year to share the last 5 principles, which include information about how to eat healthfully and exercise without rules or a rigid plan.

What are your thoughts on intuitive eating? Have you read the book?