Intuitive Eating: The Key To Good Health

Hi friends, happy Friday! How was the week that went by?

My blog last Friday was part 3 of the Weight Loss series and the third tool that I shared with you was Diet Composition. Am happy that so many of you found the whole series useful.

When I was writing it, I was not sure what I should write. I did not want to talk about food in terms of protein, carbs and fats. Everybody’s requirement is different…and each nutrient is super-important!

Always counting these macronutrients is not necessary unless you have a specific goal or seek disease management. Food is way more than these macronutrients. If you are eating clean and mostly whole foods…with a lot of variety in your diet in terms of grains, veggies and fruits, you are sorted for life.

And am glad that no one asked me about how much protein to consume every day and how much fats. There are general guidelines for that too, yes. But am glad that some of you asked me to write more about intuitive eating instead. I mentioned intuitive eating in my last blog and if you missed the post, you can read it here.

You can also join me on Instagram here, if you wish so:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Now, coming back to today’s post and intuitive eating, let’s see what it is.

In my opinion, it is a part of staying mindful package. Mindfulness about when we feel hungry and when to stop eating is intuitive eating. It sounds super simple, isn’t it? Unfortunately, most of us struggle with this part the hardest. However once achieved, it stays lifelong because our body refuses to accept it any other way once it gets used to mindful eating, or mindful consumption in general.

In my experience as a Nutritionist and a Health Coach, intuitive eating is a very hard part to reach but it’s the key to everything that we want. It is easy for me to tell you how much protein and how much fats and how many calories to take…and you would be able to apply it immediately. The hardest part is staying mindful about eating and that needs to come from within us.

What Is Intuitive Eating?

It is basically a philosophy that asks us to listen to our body and the hunger signals it sends. The body knows the whole process very well (it is a very, very complicated process, trust me) and as a baby it is very common to see. A baby cries when she/he is hungry and is happy when her/his tummy is full. Simple, isn’t it?

As we grow up and in the whole process of growing up, we start faltering and sometimes get too busy to be mindful of our own body.

Intuitive eating is also known as “anti-diet eating” as we are not restricting ourselves from eating anything but eating ONLY WHEN our body asks us to…by sending hunger cues.

I often also get my cues in terms of cravings. Last month, for 7-8 days what I kept craving is buttermilk! I like buttermilk but I am not crazy about it. That week I went crazy for buttermilk….I had almost a litre of buttermilk everyday! I didn’t think about it much. If my body is telling me to have buttermilk then I shall have buttermilk !

Is It Easy?

For many of us, it is not. It is a whole re-learning process and we need to understand how to listen to our body and trust it.

We need to trust our body…and the body needs to trust us back that we are not going to starve it or deprive it of nutrients (even carbs and fats), when it needs.

Getting this whole equation in place is a delicate job and requires effort on our part. It isn’t easy.

How To Work Towards Intuitive Eating?

First we need to understand that when our body craves a particular food, it can be:

  1. Physical Hunger – The body has a very neat system in place for almost everything. When it needs nutrients for replenishment or energy-requirement, it tells us explicitly to eat. Our stomach growls, we become irritable when we do not eat soon and we feel weak. Internally, lot of things happen too.
  2. Emotional hunger – Many of us eat when we feel anxious or because our favorite foods bring us comfort. The whole reward system that our brain creates, to feel happy and release happy hormones…brings momentary happiness often followed by varying degrees of guilt or even more anxiety!
  3. Lack of certain nutrients – We crave sweets when we cut carbs too much. We might also are low in certain vitamins when we crave sweets or chocolates. Many a times, it is our brain reward system in action too, so we need to know it’s not that, first.

There are a few principles of intuitive eating as the concept is very old. Various books have been written and researches have been done in past, since early 1970s. The key principles of this approach to food are simple but require a good effort on our part:

  1. Not being scared of food
  2. Eating as per our health requirements without being scared of eating. One day eating healthy and next day eating pizza, won’t change anything. It needs consistency but to know that one meal won’t make a difference any which ways
  3. No cutting of entire food groups from diet
  4. Choosing cleaner and healthier versions of food
  5. Do not go on fad-diets or starve yourself
  6. Eat when the body tells to without much delay
  7. Stop as soon as you are full. A very important part is to understand the comfortable fullness when eating
  8. Enjoy the food. Sit down to eat, eat without distractions and chew slowly enjoying every bite
  9. Learning to separate our feelings from food. The hardest part in my opinion! This can be achieved by channelling our brain to other activities that bring the same pleasure that we otherwise tend to derive from food
  10. Staying physically active. This helps in so many ways and it is sad to see it so underrated
  11. Loving oneself. If something worries us, we can take corrective action. However, we need to be proud of this great gift, this great miracle called a healthy body, given to us. It is so precise, so well-made that it inspires awe and definitely not shame. It is not the body’s fault if we ignore its health, for any reason.

It is important to eat intuitively for our physical health and mental/psychological health, both. It is a sustainable lifestyle habit and it improves our self-esteem. Not that it is easy but then which good thing in life, comes easy?

Hope you found today’s post interesting and useful.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Weight Management With Mindful Eating

Hi friends, hope all is good at your end! happy Friday!!

This is the second and last part of ‘Mindful Eating’ series. Mindful eating can also be called meditation with food, and rightly so. It’s not very complicated and far, far easier than actual meditation. And definitely, more delicious for one! Do read the part one here, in case you missed it.

I too have binge-eaten a lot in past. If I was eating a packet of cookies, I’ll finish most of the packet in one go. If I liked something, I ate multiple servings of it. It was for the taste and probably the addiction to sugar. I had a sweet-tooth and sweets, desserts, cookies, ice-cream, thandai, flavoured milks and other baked delicacies were my weakness.

It happened automatically to me but thankfully, I noticed the changes. With house in chaos always, with two little ones running and fighting and the Other Half fond of running TV debates on high volume, I eventually resorted to eating in my kitchen, for some quiet time ?

It helped – eating in peace, I mean. I paid attention to my food.

Mindful eating is definitely achievable and is way better than any fad-diets which are never sustainable, in longer run. What makes mindful eating even better is the fact that it coordinates mind and body, just like a good meditation session.

Mindful eating is eating with awareness so that we understand what our body is craving at a point of time and to eat accordingly. To understand when to stop eating and to realize what really satisfies us when it comes to food. And to truly enjoy each bite of our food.

How?

It Involves

  • Eating in quiet, peaceful surroundings, without external distractions
  • Eating slowly
  • Understanding body’s hunger cues – knowing when to eat and when to stop eating
  • To dissociate food with anxiety and moods
  • Thoroughly enjoying each bite and to feel various texture, smells and flovours
  • Knowing what we eat is how we feel
  • Being grateful for the food and the health it brings

Benefits

  • Once you start practicing mindful eating, you start understanding your body better and once you understand your body better, you start understanding the value of nutrition
  • You get a better control on your eating habits
  • And this in turn, not just provide assistance in weigh issues, eating disorders etc but also makes you feel better

It is not about a diet or even diet-control. This one is all about eating and the pleasure of it, in our bodies and mind! To see which foods make us happy and healthier, both! At times, we all overeat and then feel like crap, bloated and unhappy for a long while…wishing we never ate that junk or at least ate in control, don’t we?

To realize that itself, is one level achieved. To realize what we eat affects our feelings and our moods, is a lot of progress already.

What could be better than being able to manage weight issues and eating disorders, WITH eating? We just learn to listen to what our body is telling us and eat. The main thing here is to listen. Not easy but not hard either.

Did you like today’s post? Share with your family and friends. Do join me on Instagram for regular stories, nutritional tips and a healthy dose of motivation to keep you on track.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health and Peace

Eat Your Food And Stay Healthy

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How’s it going in lock-down mode? Feeling hopeful or fed up today? One thing that most of us are doing a lot in this period, is food – cooking, eating, experimenting, clicking…well, today’s post is about it only. Food that is delicious and wholesome! Food that keeps us alive and healthy. It’s indeed a blessing to be hungry!!

Health doesn’t come without food. I would go to the extent and say, food is the very reason of our existence. Whatever we do in life, is for food…right from when we are small babies to a self-dependent adult, our world revolves around our food. We work/earn for food, we celebrate with food, we click our food and share our most-loved recipes with people we love (and want to impress).

Food is synonymous with love and family. This quarantine has proved it to a lot of extent- food is all about survival and love…and feelings of achievement! What else do we need, as a human?

I know you would agree, foodie or not. Whether you cook with passion or enjoy someone else’s cooking, simple or gourmet – you can’t deny the power of food. Be it the healthy version or fried, cheesy or salad-y…you have to have a relationship with food!

Given this, it is very surprising to see how little value we place on mindful eating! Lot of us use food for comfort or to just fill our tummy but to fill our soul? Laughing at me now, are you?

Food is a very powerful medium. Why can’t we use it to connect with our self?

Today, I will ask you two questions and you need to think about it and visualize the last 7-8 meals you have had and answer them, in a general way:

  • How do you eat your food or drink your tea/coffee?

The answers could be many…with family or alone, maybe while watching TV or reading a book (could be a newspaper prior to lock-down)

  • How much do you remember about that meal?

Did you savour it, felt all the ingredients, liked the texture, chewed it thoroughly? Do you even remember it? Maybe everything is a blur after the first bite which you found delicious and then you got busy in that thriller you were watching?

You might laugh but I swear each bite can reach your very soul, make you contended and keep you satiated. You understand what that food is made of and what it would do to your body soon. Works better than any fad-diet of the world, I swear. Keeps you off binge-eating too.

Food & Me

I started doing it a few years back, unintentionally initially though. With two never-tiring little monsters running around in the house and never-ending chores…I started sitting down alone for a few minutes of peace and quiet, with my meals. I would eat slowly and enjoy the peace…and these few minutes would calm me down and recharge me.

I loved the quiet, even for  a few minutes. I might think, I might not but I enjoyed food…I felt every morsel till the last one…relished in the simplicity of it and felt good about what I was eating.

And it changed my life! Of course, I read a lot too and that made me more aware about all that I was eating but imagine, if you are sitting down in a quiet corner, relishing each bite and you then think where it came from, what it is doing to your body and how much better it could be! And healthier! How?

Today, given a choice, I would not cook much, experiment very less (only occasionally) but homemade food wins every single time. I can tell with just a look  and bite what ingredients went and what spices were used. I love simple  wholesome flavours now and I try not to rush through my meals at all because I love my food, respect it. I try to find better ingredients – simpler, fresher and wholesome…even if they are nothing exotic.

Stress-busters are a little different. Lot of us find the entire process of cutting, chopping and garnishing therapeutic too. However, getting physical health and right nutrition is possible only when you truly enjoy what you eat. There doesn’t have to be a compromise on taste unless you yourself want that. And want you will – to change lot of things, for better.

Want to know how to do that? How I learnt the art? How to cultivate a few habits that would make your relationship with what you eat healthier? Keep you healthy and satisfied? The benefits of mindful eating, it’s effects on your health? And more.

Stay tuned for next part, next Friday. Do join me on Instagram, for lot of tips, info and motivation, on the link below:

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health and Peace