Many people talk to me about their struggle with eating intuitively. It’s difficult to rely on their body and their brain to choose what and how much they eat, they say.
So they place trust in someone else to tell them how to eat. They want to know what, when, and how much to eat with exactness.
But then, they struggle with following said plan.
For some, lack of external guidance elicits mental pandemonium. I only say this because this was me. If I didn’t have a meal plan, a list, a time to fast, foods to cut, times to eat, restriction served with a nice, hot pile of more restriction, I’d freak.
I thought I’d gain a thousand pounds in one day if I didn’t have a plan. I did NOT know how to function if someone wasn’t telling me what to do.
Deer in headlights.
That’s not fun. Nor is it sustainable. Sustainability with food comes only from learning to rely on yourself to make all your food-related decisions.
I wanted this desperately. To be one of these people who just just eat normally. I wanted nothing more than to dip the first millimeters of my toe into the waters of food freedom.
What was I supposed to do? Where could I look? What would guide me to choose the adequate foods in good amounts for my body? What was the GOAL of relying on my body?
Now, I see that it’s easy.
I see that it’s just kindness.
Because eating foods that do not work for us is not kind. I used to think it was. I used to think that being kind to myself meant a night of debauchery filled with endless wine and cheese and tons of chocolate and sugar. Since I’d restrict myself so much, loosening that belt just one buckle was a one-way ticket to what-the-hell-ville, to a place where only fun was had.
And kindness was food. The “fun” food. The food I never allowed myself to have. Not because it was a “bad” food, not because I thought I’d gain weight if I ate it, but because these foods make me feel like GARBAGE. Not, like, “oh I’m bloated for an hour and then I’ll go back to normal”. I’m talking FOUR days of discomfort and looking pregnant, unable to think or move properly because my mind and body are one, and if my body feels like crap, I’m a monster.
I used to think that was kindness, even though it left me incapacitated for days. It was NEVER worth it. Ever.
I thought kindness was trying to fit into the smallest size possible, eating the smallest amount possible, taking up the least amount of space, never speaking up for myself, never feeding my body properly.
That is not kindness.
Now, I do a few simple things, all in the goal of kindness. I make myself REALLY GOOD FOOD, because cooking is the ultimate act of self care. I prioritize cooking and the preparation of my food. I sit down to eat (most of the time). I eat foods that work for me. Those other foods? Those crazy delicious foods? The ones that make me feel like garbage? I will always love them, but they are not kind to me, so I don’t eat them 99% of the time.
I stop eating when I am full because it is kind to my body, to my mind, to my stomach, to my digestion. I always want to eat more, and sometimes my brain tricks me into believing that this is kindness, that being kind is just saying eff it and going for it, because kindness would make the pleasure of food last longer than it does, but it would also mean I’d be uncomfortable.
That isn’t kind, either.
Kindness is stopping to eat. Geneen Roth says something like, “you can either deprive yourself of eating tons of cookies, or you can deprive yourself of feeling good.” THAT’s the magic stuff right there. That food isn’t moral or mean or good or bad, but actually it’s all just reality, and if we can find a way that we can eat forever and ever that we love, rooted in ultimate kindness for ourselves, then I think we’ve won.
This is simple, but it’s not easy. The next time you want to do something that isn’t kind but you think is kind, really ask yourself what you want. Is this kindness? Am I being my own best friend right now? Am I advocating for myself? Will children starve if I leave this food on my plate? No, because either way it’s going to go to waste.
You need to prioritize being kind. It takes practice. But have the faith and the confidence that you WILL, one day, realize that all food choices are about being kind or unkind.
If you have a food that makes you feel like shit but it makes you SO FREAKING HAPPY when you eat it, then eating it is kind. But make your own rules about kindness. About what is worth it. About how much you deserve.
Because you deserve to feel good, in your body and your brain, 100% of the time. But the catch is, that you are the only one who can do this for you.
We cannot make sustainable change with food, our bodies, or our surrounding habits until we honestly explore and get curious about our relationship with each of them. Mindset change is not easy, but so, so worth it.
Being healthy starts with learning to cook simple foods in easy, delicious ways with approachable and practical recipes and techniques.
Our health begins with properly nourishing our bodies with nutrient-dense foods. I believe in bio-individuality: each person requires different types and amounts of food to feel their best. Learn how to eat intuitively for the rest of your life!