By Jennifer Smith, Natural Medicine Practitioner and Certified in Holistic Nutrition
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I recently came across a couple of books that discussed an intuitive eating approach to food and I found it very interesting. After years of eating a low carb, sometimes ketogengic diet, and before that following the paleo diet, I was definitely open to the idea of getting off of diets altogether. I had been frustrated, and often found my energy levels low, I was moody, I frequently felt cold especially in my hands and feet and my weight was no longer going down like it had previously in the beginning of a low carb diet.
In thinking about my previous dieting experiences I realized that paleo quit working, then low carb quit working, then keto quit working and something had to give because I was running out of food options to remove from my diet.
When I discovered the intuitive eating approach, it was like a light bulb went off in my mind. Yes, food restriction led me down a path to disordered eating and I had to get off it immediately.
You may have noticed that the topics I have been writing about most recently began to change a few months ago. The two books that started me on this path were Eat For Heat by Matt Stone and No More Dieting by Dr. Shauna Collins. Both books are available to read for free with Kindle Unlimited program.
In this post, I will share a few thoughts about disordered eating and how the intuitive eating approach is a game changer.
A big part of intuitive eating approach is no longer looking at certain types of foods as good or bad, but just as food. You want to change your mindset to keeping ALL food neutral – from cookies to oatmeal. It all becomes fuel for your body, makes you feel good mentally or physically, and helps to nourish your body and soul.
This can be a hard transition in the beginning, as you have been conditioned to believe in things like “junk food” and “sugar addiction”. Here are some tips for removing the food and bad labels from food.
Why is this such a bad thing? Here are some reasons you need to stop looking at food as good or bad.
Food shouldn’t have a moral value. Food is just food, and the sooner you can change into that mindset, the happier you will be. With the intuitive eating approach, you learn that food doesn’t hold value, and it shouldn’t have any numbers (like calories or WW points) attached to it. You aren’t good or bad for eating a certain food.
Labels often lead to binges. When you attach certain labels to food, you are putting yourself on some type of restriction, which almost always leads to a binge episode or overeating in the future. You get it into your head that a food is bad, so when you have it, you have done something bad. You then make up for it by restricting more, which ultimately leads you right back to binging on whatever you were restricting. You don’t want to get caught in this cycle.
It causes guilt and shame. No food is inherently good or bad, so if you want to normalize it, you have to remove these labels. You should not feel guilt or shame for eating a piece of cake or a few extra cookies. Those are just foods, just like salad and sandwiches and vegetables and fruits and grains.
Normalize all food and realize everything you eat serves a purpose. It is all just providing necessary fuel, energy, and nourishment for your body. This is an easy way to start changing your mindset about food and removing those labels, without feeling overwhelmed.
If you have been living for years thinking that sweets are only enjoyed on special occasions or that you shouldn’t eat bread more than once a day, you have those mental restrictions pretty well ingrained in your head. This can make it hard to change everything at once.
Instead, just start thinking about food as fuel. When you have a craving for something and eat that food, think to yourself that you are giving your body what it needs right now. Later, it might need something else.
If you want to stop labeling food as right or wrong, good or bad, you need to instead focus on something else. Focus on what makes you feel good. Not in your head – but in your body. Start feeling every feeling, noticing what happens to your gut when you eat warm soup on a cold day, if you have any good or bad feelings after eating a sandwich or a salad or a muffin or fruit.
When you eat more protein in the morning, do you have more energy? If you eat pasta for dinner, does it help make you sleepy for bedtime? These are things to keep in mind.
Jennifer Smith, NMP, CHN, FBCC , BHC
Jennifer Smith is a Natural Medicine Practitioner, Certified in Holistic Nutrition, Faith-Based Clinical Counselor and Biblical Health Coach. She has completed advanced certificates in Functional Nutrition, Functional Medicine, Natural Health Consultant diploma, Biblical Natural Medicine and Biblical Eating and Clinical Nutrition.
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