Intuitive Self Care & Eating
If you have tried losing extra pounds you might be curious about this intuitive eating concept that is becoming popular. Intuitive eating is by definition anti-diet, and while I agree with a lot it has to say, I am also not against dieting in the sense of creating a system with parameters to secure easily accessible healthy, whole foods. If we rely heavily on prepared foods, it becomes very difficult to connect with food choices and the entire process of eating.
If you have an urge to diet, your need deserves curiosity and understanding just as your desire for specific foods does. Is your need for weight loss objectively true or does it stem from your inner critic? What keeps you from feeling good or right inside your body? When I experienced a sudden weight gain I felt trapped in the weight and compelled to shed it. Objectively I was carrying excess weight. This is also where it is really important to speak with your health practitioners to tune into all the signals your body is sending you.
There are a lot of factors contributing to a well-established obesity epidemic, perception included. Let's break it down a bit. We eat more, exercise less, sleep less, and spend more time comparing ourselves to retouched photos of others. That alone is a recipe to feel worse about ourselves from the inside. Add to that actual extra pounds, possible health factors, stress, and individual relationships with food... and it might feel impossible to even know where to begin.
So how can we begin to marry intuitive self-care with eating when food serves more than just our nutrition? The answer is to become mindful about what we put into our body with self-compassion. This process enables us to connect with our food and food choices while honoring our hunger. It helps to also change the unreasonable expectation that faster weight loss is better. Let go of drastic measures for change and give yourself the freedom to feel into your body, your choices, the way food makes you feel, and even, to start over. Embarking on a way of eating has the benefit of helping you evaluate how you feel so that you can tap into the parts of you driving your nourishment towards healthy self-care practices. Having some structure enables us to assess the situation to get help if needed and also to reflect on habits or patterns we may want to change.
This is where diet and extreme exercise culture lose points and we see so many people expressing a sense of fatigue and failure. A punitive approach to self-care is due to have short-lived results. This is why I created the Hear-Centered Wellness Journal . In it, I list essentials of wellness and offer activities to help approach it from a self-compassionate, individualized perspective, and record your journey with activities in a 15- month calendar.
Here are some essential pieces to get you started.
Make sure to get a health check-up if you are behind like many people have fallen in this past year.
Establish whether or not you objectively need to lose weight and how you can compassionately seek ways to feel better about whatever needs arise. This can be activating which is another reason why a health checkup is really helpful.
Explore your activity levels. Are you moving your body 30 minutes a day?
Take a look at favorite foods, least favorite foods, habits, and feelings around foods - objectively.
What is your sleep schedule like?
Do you have a roughly consistent schedule so that your body knows what to expect?
Can you reduce the percentage of your day spent on a screen?
Do you engage in hobbies or share a sense of meaningful social connectedness with others?
Can you meditate for 5-10 minutes a day?
Do you eat fresh foods with minimal processing?
Simply adding fresh vegetables rich in fiber and other essential nutrients, can help crowd out poorer choices. Examples include leafy greens like kale and spinach, dandelion greens, and others like broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and celery. It may mean having an apple as a healthy snack to find balance without entirely giving up on some things you enjoy. Your body will start to feel nourished differently and physical cravings will change.
Checking in mentally and emotionally to nourish food-related prompts in other ways can also help. Meal planning helps navigate potential convenience traps. Making fresh produce an easily accessible option can also reduce the consumption of processed unhealthy foods. Let's face it; we all get hungry and we all get tired. When both of those happen simultaneously, and healthy options aren't easily accessible, good choices become harder to make whether food, exercise, or other essential needs. Planning self-care entails looking ahead, looking inside, and creating systems to help us feel nourished by the choices we make. The more this happens, the more we can experience clarity and confidence around self-care.
If your plan is too constricting, it will not be sustainable. Most clients that come to me have systems and resources but need this holistic support to synthesize them successfully and sustainably. Create some structure to foster connection with your intuitive process with care and self-compassion. If I look at how I eat now compared to how I was eating when I found myself with the extra weight, it might seem like an extreme change from that vantage point. I loved my fastfood and believed that food was s imple pleasure I deserved - which is absolutely true. I had never imagined, until I gave myself the structure, that my taste buds and cravings woukd change and that I could possibly enjoy food more with more healthy foods and no fast food. Now I crave vegetables, healthier chocolates, smoothies, less sugar, and physical movement AND love this way of living. And so do my clients. I never would have imagined doing this for myself let alone coaching others.
Visualize your future self, her needs, wants, and wisdom. Connect with and nourish yourself towards balance, for success beyond your goals.
TheresaWV is a Life & Wellness coach. She is a firm believer in individualized holistic approaches and long walks outside whenever possible. You can download her free eBook on self-care here and also sign up for occasional updates. For more information about coaching visit TheresaWV.com.
Theresa W Velendzas, MS is a personal trainer NASM CPT with various certifications and Level 3 IFS Certified Practitioner.