With all this talk about “eat what you want” and “no foods are good or bad,” you guys might be wondering if I’m still even into nutrition. I promise — I am! However, I have come to realize that if you don’t have a healthy relationship with food, eating healthfully will be difficult and might actually do more harm than good.
It’s only after going on the journey through the first nine principles, which help us work through unhealthy thoughts towards food and ourselves, that we arrive here — honor your health with gentle nutrition.
In fact, nutrition is important to consider when choosing food. A banana has a different nutritional value than a Snickers bar — I would never deny that. But rigid, black-and-white thinking can damage our mental health and relationship with our bodies…and that’s why it’s about gentle nutrition.
Consider this mantra:
“In matters of taste, consider nutrition; in matters of nutrition, consider taste.”
We don’t have to compromise one to have the other. And we can definitely swing too far in one direction — choosing things only based on taste, and choosing things only based on nutrition. Neither is good, but if you’ve gone through this journey of re-learning what tastes good to you and you’re ready to add in nutrition, here’s some brief thoughts:
- Portion control is not a problem for intuitive eaters. If you’re listening to hungry/full signals, there’s nothing to control! So don’t listen to those diet-y voices telling you portion control is the answer. If you’re struggling with eating the correct amounts, check out my posts on honoring your hunger and feeling your fullness.
- Eat fruits & vegetables. These are full of helpful vitamins and fiber! Find tasty ways to put them in your diet (i.e. maybe grate those carrots and put them in your favorite pasta sauce instead of eating them raw if that feels diet-y to you). Look for more recipes in the future from me that involve making vegetables taste good!
- Eat more fish. The healthy fats in fish have been shown to have some really beneficial health outcomes! Try out some pre-seasoned fish from the grocery store — all you have to do is throw it in the oven. Very yummy.
- Drink enough fluids — primarily water. I would be going against intuitive eating if I said you shouldn’t drink soda, but you have to ask yourself — is this really satisfying me? Does this make me feel good? If the answer is yes, then by all means, go for it! But you’ll probably find that water is a better choice when we’re thinking about nutrition. Coffee and tea can also help you get the fluids you need (shoutout to all my coffee drinkers!)
- Include protein-rich foods like chicken, turkey, lean meats, eggs, and dairy, as well as quality fats like those found in seafood, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
There is a plethora of nutrition information out there, but this is a great place to start. The journey to discovering which foods honor your health is ongoing, as you listen to information like this but also listen to the messages your body sends you as you have experiences eating different foods and noticing how they makes you feel.
Gentle nutrition will allow you to pursue health without feeling like your value as a person depends on it, and without making you feel deprived, because all foods still fit! If you have gone through this journey, you now have the chance to start fueling your body in a way that truly produces vitality and life in mind, body, and spirit. And that’s what intuitive eating is all about.