Category Archives: Intuitive eating

One of the rudest things you can say

“You shouldn’t be eating that. It’s so bad for you.”

This is one of the rudest things we say to each other in our culture.

We say this ALL THE TIME. From friends at lunch, to families at meal time, neighbors at BBQs, and complete strangers all over the internet, whether through articles or personal commentary, we say this in the name of health.  But what we’re really saying is “you’re doing it wrong and that’s bad. You should be better.”

We shouldn’t be doing is tolerating this statement in our lives. It isn’t okay for people to be in our food or food habits. Even if, especially if, we’re struggling with weight challenges.

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Would you ever say  to someone, “You shouldn’t be wearing that. You’re too fat”? It’s just as rude to tell someone they should or shouldn’t be eating something.

To say openly comment on or to accept commentary on what someone should or shouldn’t be eating, what’s bad or not bad is judgmental and hurtful. No one knows our own bodies better than ourselves. And if we’re judging what others are eating based on body type and/or potential future body type, then we’re missing opportunities to concern ourselves with things that actually matter.

This is especially damaging for children. Forcing the shoulds and shouldn’ts of dietary rules interrupts not just the joy of eating but also the natural signals kids get from their bodies about what they like/dislike, what sounds good, and what they need. Food is meant to be fun and fuel; the best way to keep kiddos healthy is by teaching them to listen to their bodies, not cultural rules.

School Lunch - Girls TableOn that same note, it’s important to teach our children it isn’t okay to judge others’ food. The same way we’d tell them not to peek in the windows of our neighbor’s house or comment on Grandma’s potent breath, we must teach them it’s not okay to make comments about people’s food or food habits.

 

Things that are okay to say, because food is actually really fun and interesting to talk about when we’re not judging each other about it:

  • “That looks really good!”
  • “Did you make that? How did you make it?”
  • “I don’t really like that flavor, but I do like…”
  • “Have you ever tried (name of food)?”
  • “What other things do you like to eat?”

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Health looks different for each body.  The food my body needs and enjoys is different than what your body needs and enjoys is different from what every other body needs and enjoys, regardless of body size and type and health. So unless we live inside each other’s bodies, we have no basis upon which to tell each other what we should or shouldn’t be eating and why.

No more tolerating “You shouldn’t eat that; it’s bad for you.” Stay confident in what you choose for yourself and advocate for each other to eat what sounds good.

#nofoodshame

 

 

 

Anorexia Recovery: How food changed for my kids

The best intuitive eaters on the planet are kids. My job as a mom is to protect my children’s innate ability to feed themselves well. I wasn’t very good at this until the last year and a half while going through eating disorder recovery. It turns out that anorexia not only affected me, but also my children because I was super controlling of their food and portions. I watched their sugar, fat, and carb intakes; was hyper aware of fruit and veggie consumption; had strict rules about treats; managed snacks; and controlled how much/little food went on to their plates.

That was a lot of work, and really, in the scheme of culture totally normal for a parent wanting their kids to eat healthy. However, it caused stress at meal times. My kids weren’t good eaters–picky, whiny, and adverse to trying new things; everyone seemed hungry all the time;

When I went into eating disorder recovery, I had to relearn how to feed my family and reteach my kids what it really means to eat well. We follow the Ellen Satter Institute principles, which center on getting kids back to their intuitive ability to eat. Do kids need structure? Yes. Do they need to be hyper controlled? No. The nutshell of how this works:

~ Parents choose what and when kids eat

~ Kids choose if and how much/little they’ll eat.

As a mom I had to learn how to:

  1. Give my kids lots of choices of all the nutrients (including sugar, fat and carbs)
  2. Pull back on controlling what my kids put on their plates
  3. Teach my kids how to tune in with their bodies

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What this looks like in our house

We have zero food rules. All nutrients are treated equal, which means ice cream, cookies, and treats have equal value as fruit, veggies, and whole grains. When we don’t put food on a pedestal to be earned or treated as the holy grail of all things yummy, the interest and desire to eat the treats becomes more even keel.

There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food nor “healthy” and “unhealthy.” We have play food and serious food–all of it good and healthy if our bodies are hungry and asking for them.

We have a zero-pressure environment at meal times. All the choices are put on the table  and then we tune in with our bodies. “What sounds good? Maybe start with a little and see how you feel–if you want more, have more. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. Maybe try a different choice on the table.”

No one has to eat everything on their plate. You don’t have to  try anything if you don’t want to; you can try everything if you want to. Decide what sounds good to you and eat that. If a plate of cookies sounds good… go for it. If your body doesn’t feel good later, we’ll talk about it and see if maybe next time we try less cookies in combo with another choice like chicken or fruit. Maybe our body would like that better.

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What mealtimes look like

Breakfast:

Eat whatever sounds good. Sean typically eats toaster waffles w/syrup or peanut butter; sometimes he’ll have an egg too, if he’s in the mood.

Haley usually eats one or more of the following with a bowl of chocolate ice cream on the side:

  • 1/2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Leftovers from dinner
  • Bagel and cream cheese
  • Bacon if it’s freshly cooked

Yeah. That’s right. Sometimes her breakfast is a bowl of ice cream with bacon on the side. Crazy? From a cultural perspective, yes. Biologically speaking, though, her body is reading and absorbing fat, calcium, Vitamin D, sugar and protein–all necessary nutrients to get her metabolism and brain up and running in the morning.

Lunch

Both kidlets get an apportioned amount of dollars  per month in their hot-lunch account. Each day they pick what sounds good–either the hot lunch choice, as per the monthly menu hanging in our kitchen, or whatever sounds good for home lunch. Home lunch will range from dinner leftovers to mac and cheese to a bologna sandwich. They make their own lunches with minor assistance from me. Once in a great while, depending on what’s happening, I will make lunch for them and they are over the moon.

Since ditching the food rules, the kids choose home lunch more often than hot lunch (averaging hot lunch about twice per week).

Snacks

We have a snack shelf in our pantry. They pack their home lunches from that shelf and have free access to the shelf whenever their bodies say “I’m hungry.” After school, they do have to have their snack eaten by 4:15 so they have appetites for dinner later.

I try to keep a bowl of “easy fruit” on the table at all times– grapes, cherries, blueberries–which I refresh every couple of days. Sometimes I switch to carrots, olives, cherry tomatoes. The whole family will graze on these as we’re coming and going through out the week.

Every night we have an optional “last snack of the day” between 8 and 9pm. Sometimes this is something as simple as string cheese or something off the snack shelf or it could be  more involved, like a hot dog or quesadilla. It just depends on the activity we had during the evening. No one needs to go to bed hungry, and, in fact, we find we sleep better when our bodies have fuel for the work it does while we sleep.

Dinner

Dinnertime is where intuitive eating really takes charge. Lots of choices and no pressure. Here’s a visual of what last week’s dinners looked like:

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Monday: Pizza Chicken; arugula salad with the toppings (mandarin oranges, strawberries) separate in case someone wanted fruit but no lettuce; whipped cream (for the strawberries if you want); Go-gurt, Jello, and chocolate pudding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday: My husband cooked Steak & Veggie Kabobs; rice; arugula salad with tomatoes; sliced strawberries. Not much else for choices that night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday: Broccoli Chicken; rice; baked beans, leftover popcorn from snack time; applesauce; cheese and crackers. This night was a total jackpot on the choices! Haley sampled a little of everything; Sean loaded up on cheese and crackers, baked beans, and a little broccoli chicken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thursday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup; grilled cheese sandwiches; grapes; cherries; pickles. There was also ice cream, but I kept that in the freezer with expressed permission to grab some if desired. Sean’s baseball game had been cancelled due to rain, so we had a rare night at home! I took full advantage of the time by making something a little more time consuming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday: Sloppy Joes; ABC Salad (arugula, bacon, and cheddar cheese); grapes ‘n’ strawberry salad; Spongebob Squarepants fruit snacks; Chips Ahoy. Need I say more here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday: Pizza night! Forgot to take a picture.

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Sunday: Spaghetti Mac w/cheese; chocolate pudding; Jello; grapes and cherries; Go-gurt. I was running low on groceries that day and kind of made up the pasta dish. It was essentially elbow macaroni with meat sauce and shredded cheddar.

It took several months to find a new rhythm and sometimes we run into hiccups if our routine is thrown off, but removing the rigidity and rules (yet still keeping structure) has changed my kids for the better! They eat a variety of foods, including trying more new things; meal times are fun and relaxed; there’s no more begging for treats and snacks; they’re learning how to listen and respond to their own bodies. Now that they’ve reconnected to their intuition, food is fun, nourishing, and enjoyable as it was meant to be!

How to reduce food anxiety

woman deciding whether to eat healthy food or sweet cookies she craving

 

The day you were born, you activated your very first smart-device. With proper care and simple maintenance it has a lifetime guarantee; no upgrades needed. It is designed to give you the power to keep it running at optimal levels in its most current versions. In fact, if you transfer your power to an external source, the integrity of your device will be compromised and its operation will malfunction. Every single person has one of these devices; however, no two are the same. Every single one is unique. Continue reading

What is intuitive eating?

Do you want to be the ideal body type or do you want to be ideally healthy?

There is a difference, you know.

To be the ideal body type there are about 564,000 different diets, pills, exercise plans, and lifestyle changes to choose from. All come complete with rules, regulations, and restrictions that will guarantee the culturally ideal body type. However, they cannot guarantee that you will be ideally healthy.

To be ideally healthy requires only two things. Listening to your body and trusting what it’s telling you. This comes complete with the guarantee that your body type will be exactly as it was created to be; you will have no guilt or self-loathing of yourself as a person; and your quality of life will rest on the side of peace, contentment, and enjoyment.

I had chosen option A–ideal body type. I actually just skipped the diets and pills and found straight starvation combined with over-exercising to be more efficient in getting the body I wanted. It totally worked.

And also, I nearly died.

Note: Diets are a form of starvation. Diets dictate depriving, withholding, and/or restricting a nutrient (or several) from your body, thus starving your body of what it needs. Our bodies need all the nutrients. Whether you simply aren’t eating (as I was in anorexia) and/or you are strictly forbidding or restricting certain nutrients such as carbs, fats, sugar etc., through dieting or a lifestyle-diet, you are starving your body–>unless you have a special medical condition, such as diabetes or food allergies, that require an omission of certain nutrients. 

Here is what I am learning first-hand about option B:  Ideal health comes from eating intuitively. Eating intuitively shapes your body into the ideal body type meant for you. Your body already knows how to get to ideal health without external control.

Mind. Blown.

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Think of a dried-out sponge that’s all shriveled up and misshapen. When you give the sponge water, spongea steady flow of what it needs, the sponge soaks in the water and comes to life, returning to the size it was made to be and rendering itself usable to its potential as a sponge.  You turn off the water when the sponge is full. As the sponge dries out, you turn on the water, thus repeating the cycle. If you give the sponge more water than it needs, it takes a little longer for the sponge to dry out, but the sponge remains its natural size.

A sponge does exactly what it’s supposed to do when you give it what it needs.

Now, think of your body… all shriveled up and/or misshapen (from starvation). When you feed your body a steady flow of what it needs and wants, your body soaks in the nutrients (energy) and comes back to life, returning to the size it was made to be and rendering itself usable to its potential.  You stop eating when your body is full. You turn on the nutrients again when your body is hungry. If you give your body more food than it needs, it takes a little longer for your body to become hungry again, but it remains its natural size

With your body, you simply notice what it needs, respond accordingly, and your body bounces back to life, as the same size every time, and ready to be used in your life as you. Your body does exactly what it’s supposed to do when you give it what it needs. This is intuitive eating. 

Thankfully, the body is way cooler than a sponge.

The point is there are no rules and regulations necessary because your body knows what to do. Intuitive eating requires being in tune with and connected to your body so you can hear/feel what it needs and wants. You can feed your body what it wants because it reads both play foods and serious foods as energy. And when it’s had enough of any food (including your favorite), it will tell you, “I’m done.”

Your body will not betray you. If something doesn’t feel good or your body isn’t responding well, then its trying to tell you something.  For example, I have celiac disease, so if I eat something with gluten and I get sick, it isn’t that my body is rebelling or that gluten is evil, rather it’s my body saying “Mayday, Mayday, I cannot process what you have given me! Abort mission. Let’s recover… chicken broth and water, stat!” Once my body heals, it will give me a signal by shooting me a hunger pang and a craving… typically sushi. 🙂  This idea goes for any medical condition that needs special dietary consideration.

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Intuitive eating

Ignore the word “program” in the title. This isn’t a program. If I was their editor, I would’ve recommended a different title. 🙂

Intuitive eating is a sense we are born with; it is wrapped into how God created our bodies. So there is a process involved in recovering this intuition and reconditioning your brain to trust your intuition and ignore cultural ideals, noisy headlines and the diet mentality.  It takes time to build trust.

I don’t believe for a second God intended for us to count the grams of anything in our food; to track calories in and calories out (btw: if you have a metabolism, your math is going to be off); to spend hours focused on sculpting our bodies; to agonize over the numbers rising and falling on the scale; to utilize energy and emotion in self-shaming for not having the ideal body and loving the “evil” foods.

If you trust God with your life, you can trust the body He gave you. (If you don’t trust God with your life, you can still trust your body anyway because this part is biological.) Listening to and trusting your body will lead you to ideally healthy life and the ideal body type for you.

You can hear more about intuitive eating this Friday, June 12 on Rose City Forum; 12-1 pm (PST). My kids and I along with my dietitian will be talking all about intuitive eating, what it looks like for my family, and how it has played a crucial role in my eating disorder recovery. Log on to KKPZ.com to listen live. You’ll also have the opportunity to call in and ask questions. If you miss it, there will be a replay of the interview at 6 pm (PST).