how to make more intuitive food decisions
Calling myself a "Health Coach" sometimes feels strange
I heard something the other day that made me look at a lot of my work through a different lens: "Are you making food choices for a medical reason? Or for 'health' reasons"?
I think that "health" has become an overcomplicated word. Unfortunately for me that means calling myself a "health coach" sometimes feels icky. Here's why:
Diet culture (aka business and influencers in our world that promote restrictive forms of eating or over exercising to promote thinness, and ultimately make money on your undying desire for thinness) has taken the word "healthy" from being representative of harmony within our bodies, minds and spirits to being a word that promotes guilt, feeling of lack and perfectionism around food and body image.
Thus, calling myself a health coach often comes with the preface of "I'm a health coach who promotes Intuitive Eating"... Or something along those lines.
We aren't tuned in to what we actually want and need
Even the word "wellness" lately has been stolen away by the food and diet industries in their pursuit of attracting new customers. So how do you know what to trust when it comes to finding that inner harmony with your body-mind-spirit? That sweet spot that rests between not caring at all about your health and being too obsessive about your food choices?
YOUR INTUITION. Trust it. Your intuition has been with you since day one, and is never trying to sell you anything or secretly sabotage you. Your intuition has the ability to tell you exactly what you need, when you need and works cohesively with your body to reward you when you follow it. Another word for intuition? Gut feeling. I'm not talking about the little bout of anxiety you get every time you take a vulnerable risk; that's usually self-doubt. I'm talking about that feeling deep within your soul that nudges you to take risks or warns you when something isn't quite right.
The trouble is that we've been taught to tune out our intuition when it comes to trusting our bodies around food.
When is the last time you sat down to a meal and honestly had no thoughts whatsoever about whether it was "good" or "bad" for you? This is not an intuitive behavior. This is a behavior taught to us by the diet industry so that 3 times a day we are reminded yet again that we shouldn't trust our bodies to make their own healthy decisions. Any diet, cleanse, detox, program, course, whatever you're calling it that defines certain foods as "good" or "bad" or as a "cheat food" or classifies certain foods as off-limits, is anti-intuitive.
How to REALLY get healthy
If we really want to feel healthy- the true, honest meaning of the word- we have got to stop listening to people promoting weight-loss, and start listening to our intuitions again.
But how can you start to tune back into your own intuition? It probably feels foreign, right?
Here are a few ways I tune back into my intuition when worries about weight loss or my body size come up:
01. Get outside. This one seems obvious, but their is some crazy power in a quiet walk by yourself. Take five minutes away from your desk or chores to take some deep breaths of fresh air, noticing the sounds of nature, or the cars passing by. Close your eyes and let the current moment sink in. That quiet space you just created in your mind is one of the first steps to allowing your intuition to talk to you again.
02. Start a creative morning practice A friend of mine and future podcast guest, Lauren Aletta of Inner Hue uses tarot in combination with journaling to help her clients tap back into their intuition. I also like writing first thing out of bed as my thoughts haven't quite become fully conscious yet. My partner makes time for his music in the mornings. Do something to start your day that helps you connect back into your soul. By connecting to this deeper part of yourself more regularly, you'll start to notice the little signals your intuition sends you on a regular basis.
03. Stop distracting yourself at meal time (at least 80% of the time) This one will always be a work in progress for me, and I'm guessing for most people. Whether its the TV, phone, Instagram, a book, a friend, a podcast- there are about a million ways we keep ourselves from being present with our food. But that presence is exactly what allows us to fully enjoy our food, recognize our hunger and fullness cues, and it allows us to feel satisfied enough to focus on things other than food. Even if it's only once every other day to start, try to eat distraction free. Notice the way your food smells as you're cooking it, the way it lays on your plate. Notice the cues your body is sending you before you even take a bite. Is your mouth watering? Is your tummy preparing to digest? Taste the difference from start to finish- do the flavors become more or less intense as you take time to chew and taste your food?
These are just some really simple questions you can start asking yourself as you take time to be more present at meal time. BUT -and this is very important- If you're stressing yourself about by not being "perfect" with eating distraction free, allow yourself the space to eat with whatever distraction you desire. It's not meant to be another rule. It's just a tool to help you get connected again.
Circling back around to that question from the beginning:
"Are you making decisions around food based on medical reasons? "Health" reasons?" Or because you're listening to your Intuition?
My hope is that over time you can answer with the latter more often than not.