Nutrition is not intuitive.
At least not anymore. Not with all the nutrition noise in popular media. You can't open Facebook without receiving some (well-intentioned) message about how you should eat...and subsequently how you should look.
It frustrates me to no end.
Here's what I know to be true about eating healthfully: your body knows what it needs. It even knows how much of it it needs! Your body has such wisdom that if you tap into it you will never need to know a damn thing about macros, food combining, balanced meals or phytonutrients. You'll just eat.
Doesn't that sound NICE?!
We were born into this world with deep intuition and an innate ability to feed ourselves. But then something happened to cloud the clarity and muddle the message. Our families influenced our food beliefs. Our culture showed us that how we are is not thin enough, pretty enough, good enough and if only we avoided these foods that cause belly fat, we'd be thinner, prettier and good-er. But then we try that, right? And it doesn't work. So we try being vegan. And that doesn't flatten our stomach. So we try Paleo, and our thigh gaps still do not open. We probably ate too much tofu followed by too much bacon followed by something else that was 100% clearly our fault. Our failure. Rinse and repeat.
Here's the thing: food, even healthy food is not that hard. Believe it or not, eating vegetables and drinking water feels good. And you like to feel good. So feeding yourself healthy food is actually the path of least resistance. It's easy. The hard part is unplugging from society's expectation of what healthy looks like on a plate and in the mirror.
Health comes in all shapes and sizes. And yes, this is coming from a 5'11" woman who has weighed the same 145 pounds since college. You'd be fooling yourself if you thought I didn't need this reminder. Even skinny girls get the message that they're not thin enough, pretty enough, good enough. Not one beautiful soul is spared. I have never been "overweight" and I still spent most of my life fighting the monster in the mirror.
Here are 5 steps I took to build my nutrition intuition AND step into my own healthy beauty:
1. Eat at least 3 times a day.
I got so good at being hungry that for many years in the beginning of my recovery I had no idea when to eat and when to stop eating. Those hungry/satiated triggers were never quite on or off sending me crazily confusing messages. One way to overcome this is to eat at regularly scheduled times, at least 3 meals a day.
2. Eat real food.
I have a sad story to tell you: The ingredients in your food that makes them taste so good and last long enough on the shelf that aliens will be able to dine on them after human life as we know it ceases to exist...these are not food. These are chemicals meant to fool us into wanting and buying more. They're replacing whole food ingredients that, by their nature, do not last forever. These items are easily identified on food packages: you likely can't pronounce them and definitely won't be able to find them in nature.
Real food comes from the earth. Real foods are whole foods - vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds... And while it takes time to make them into a meal, you're body easily recognizes them as food and has no trouble discerning what to do with them. This is the key ingredient to building nutrition intuition. You can't unlock your body's secrets when you fuel it with Mac 'n Cheese, Lean Cuisines and Poptarts.
3. Every day practice self-care.
Drink water. Get sleep. Move your body. Express your emotions. Connect with your community. Live intentionally. Smile. You need all of this to learn and listen to your inner wisdom.
Don't expect perfection overnight. In my experience this takes months if not years to master. Every day is practice and you have all you need to succeed right inside your beating heart. But it this feel too big to tackle on your own, let me help, ok?
You might be surprised that this nutrition nerd doesn't actually write about nutrition all that often. Here's why: in 10+ years of studying food and nutrition, I've concluded that knowing about kale and vitamin K doesn't make me want to eat kale or care that it contains vitamin K. We need to dive into what it means to nourish and nurture ourselves. Once we discover that we're worth it, choosing healthy food is the most obvious option on the table. So get ready to dive into body image, self worth and whole-person (body, mind, spirit) healing. Once you change that tune, you change it all.