3 Powerful Tools to Be a More Intuitive Eater

 3 powerful tools for becoming an intuitive eater

A huge piece of Intuitive Eating is the ability to tap in to your internal hunger and satiety cues. To know, for real, if and when you're hungry or full and to honor those feelings.

It sounds simple, but it's an incredibly difficult piece of the puzzle. We've been influenced sometimes from infancy to rely on other factors when we eat and how much. We're given snacks at all hours of the day as little children - often sugary sweet ones that disrupt our internal cues and our emotions. We're told in school and at camp that being in the Clean Plate Club is the best way to go and that by not eating the food on our plate we're wasting it.

The break from our internal cues for any number of reasons but it's important to know that those cues do actually exist. They may be long-forgotten, ill-used and need some reworking, but they're there. Under all of the influence, education, pressure we've internalized from external factors, we still all have the ability to tap in to our natural hunger and satiety cues.

So how?

There are so many ways and each may speak to you differently but these are the three main ones that come up for my clients and women I work with:

1. Limit or eliminate distractions. 
In our society, it's completely normal to eat while working, watching television, scrolling Instagram. The thing is, eating is a sensory activity. It's not simply an animalistic act of consuming calories. We need to engage in all of our senses when we sit down to eat a meal. If our sight and hearing and emotions are engaged in other activities while we're eating, it's impossible to truly know when we're full and when we've had enough. Most people who eat distracted report that they barely remember the meal they've just eaten just minutes later. Even if it was filling and delicious, they're reaching for more food soon because their other senses were strained and they don't feel satisfied. 

2. Focus first on yourself.
One of the other principles of intuitive eating is self-love and acceptance of your body. I think it often gets overlooked in favor of honoring your hunger and feeling your fullness, but it's a huge part of getting to that place. If you don't love your body or trust yourself you'll never be able to truly connect with what you're body needs. You'll still be staring at your plate thinking about calorie counts or the fat in your thighs and that's still a form of distracted eating. My favorite way to begin to trust yourself and repair your relationship with your body is to ditch your scale. It NEVER shows the whole picture anyway - weight alone is hardly an accurate indicator of overall health. It's just a tool to make you feel bad about yourself. Ditch the scale and start feeling your body.

3. Practice feeling full.
We often stop eating because our plate is clear or the bag of Peppermint Joe Joe’s is empty (#guilty), but that doesn’t mean we’re full. Often, we eat to excess just to finish our plate or we finish our plate and neglect to go back for seconds when we’re still hungry because we don’t want to look like a glutton. Try this: On an empty stomach, fill 3 large glasses of water. Drink them all in 5 minutes. The feeling of all the water in your belly will mimic the feeling of fullness. Sit down and think about how you’re feeling. Write down any sensations, thoughts, emotions, feelings that you have. Keep this list near you when you’re eating for a couple of weeks to remind you of how ‘full’ really feels. When you get to that point in a meal, stop eating.

We have to stop relying on outside cues like the clock or our plate size or the scale to tell us how comfortable to feel. We have to re-learn to engage in our own senses and internal cues to feel our fullness and satiety in order to truly reach our healthy goals.

Recipe | Iron Pumping Smoothie

leafy-green-smoothie-recipe

At my last prenatal appointment, I had my iron levels tested. I've thought for a while I was slightly anemic but the test confirmed it and I've been looking for ways to increase my iron intake with and without supplements. 

The common recommendations are to eat leafy greens, cook in a cast iron skillet, and take an iron supplement. I started on a supplement and nearly always use cast iron when cooking but those leafy greens have always been my downfall. With five bags of mustard greens sitting in my freezer from last winters garden I've been mixing up smoothies to get some extra in my diet.

Curious as to how much iron is actually in the 'leafy greens' we're supposed to be eating?

Mustard Greens - 0.9mg
Spinach - 0.8mg
Kale - 1mg
Chard - 0.6mg

*amount in 1 cup

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Unfortunately, a smoothie of just leafy greens or even a plate of leafy greens can leave much to be desired. It's far tastier to mix in some extras to make your big green smoothie drinkable. Fruit can be super helpful in upping the taste factor but watch out for the sugar content. Being heavy-handed with the fruit can outweigh much of the benefits from the greens or anything else.

Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to get in essential nutrients - not to mention simple and delicious - for a well balanced diet. Much of my protein comes from nuts or nut milks or butters I add to smoothies as well. Following a plant based vegan diet, especially during pregnancy means taking a little extra time and thought to prepare and make sure you're getting everything the body needs. But even if you're not restricting animal products, you may still be missing key vitamins and minerals from your diet and fruits and veggies are always a good bet for where to find them!

So drink up!


leafy-green-smoothie-recipe

Iron Pumping Smoothie (serves 2)

1 cup leafy greens
1 inch of peeled ginger root
a handful of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple or mango
1 banana
coconut water
juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon

I like mixing the greens and coconut water first then adding the frozen ingredients and then the rest. If you're using a good high speed blender, the order shouldn't matter much. Add more or less coconut water if needed.

 

Why Diets Don't Work - Even When They Do

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So that title is probably misleading and confusing so let me back up...

What is a diet?

Well, a diet is really just the combination of foods you eat on a regular basis. It has little to do with calorie counts and deprivation or specific foods. It's just an overview of what you put in your body. 

But a diet plan, or anything you sign up, pay, or participate in, is something different. But for the purposes of this just know when I say 'diet' what I'm referring to is any plan that requires you to count, restrict, weigh, balance, cut, etc. You get the idea. 

I have worked with many women who have followed various diets and had what they call 'success'. They've lost the weight, their clothes fit better, they look the part. But they still come to me for help with their nutrition and wellness. WHY?

Because despite the lower number on the scale they still don't feel worthy. They don't feel comfortable. Strong. Brave. Powerful. They're still working in this zone of fear that the diet created and they can't imagine a simple solution to health without all the counting and restriction.

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When you follow a diet and are successful in terms of weight loss it means you've figured out how to follow a plan, stick with it and make it work for you. And all of that is super important! But what a typical diet won't teach you is how to keep it going without counting, without the accountability of the plan, without the fear of failure. It won't teach you to rely on your internal hunger or satiety cues (in fact, most diet companies are most successful when they get you to completely ignore those cues) and it won't teach you to love your body.

That's what Hello Nourish is all about. We're about ditching the deprivation diets for good and getting back in touch with those innate internal cues that have been so long ignored. It's about feeling amazing in the body you were born with - accepting and working with the biology you can't change - and making the most of the pieces you can. Hello Nourish is about nourishing all parts of you - mind, body, spirit - so that you don't need a diet in the first place. You're so comfortable with your food, your body, your internal cues that a restrictive plan would be completely ridiculous to propose. 

You eat food because you're hungry and because it nourishes your body. 

You stop eating because you're full and for zero other reasons.

You silence the food police that shame you in to stuffing your face with kale salads (when you actually hate kale!).

You begin to accept and even love your body exactly how it is, even if you're working towards becoming a healthier version of yourself. 

Because at the end of the day meals should be fun and delicious and nourishing - not leaving you feeling ashamed, guilty and hungry.

If you want to get started and dig deeper in to how you can become a more intuitive eater without a diet plan I've got an amazing free download for you - simply pop your email in here and you'll receive a workbook that will help you get there!


The Complete Meal Planning Guide

meal-planning

i am a HUGE planner and my meals are no exception. i love sitting down and writing out my shopping list and my menu for the week and coming back to fill up my fridge with fresh food. something about a well-stocked fridge makes me happy. maybe i'm a weirdo, but i love it! i know that meal planning isn't for everyone, and many dread that time on sunday night when they start thinking about meals for the week ahead. but it does not have to be a struggle! it can be fun and exciting and empowering to plan out your meals for the week! it is also a great way to make sure you're planning for healthy, sustainable meals instead of frantically ordering pizza on a thursday night because you ran out of food. hey, it happens! but it doesn't have to.

1. find some recipes. 
this is one of my favorite parts of meal planning and meal prep. i used to dread it. i didn't know where to start or what to make and would end up with something like 'meat, potatoes, maybe a veggie'. but that, my friends is boring and if i've learned anything as a former veggie-hater, it's way too easy to cut out that veggie if it's not incorporated in the meal. enter: PINTEREST. pinterest is not a social media outlet. it is a search engine. and it is full of healthy, delicious, easy, colorful recipes for anything you could ever imagine. just type in what you're looking for and VOILA! hundreds or thousands of recipes right there ready to go! 

another favorite resource of mine is barre3. you've heard me talk about how much i love their workouts, both online and in studio, but they also have amazingly yummy recipes! and the best part, you don't have to be an online subscriber to get access to them! just download the app and BOOM. you have tons of recipes that are so easy and colorful right at your fingertips!

2. keep a running list
this is a really important part to long-term meal planning. you need a recipe repertoire at your fingertips so you can go back to recipes that you love or swap out new ones. every month, i sit down and make a list of recipes we've tried in the past month, what we loved, what we didn't, where they came from (so i can find them again), etc. i usually end up with a couple week's worth of recipes and stick with that.

having just half a month of different recipes is a little secret of mine that works wonders. you do NOT need 31 different dinner recipes in a month. that just leads to buying a bunch of things you'll only use once and you'll end up tossing way too many leftover ingredients. for example: one of my favorite soups calls for lemongrass stalk. but just 3 stalks. so what do i do with the rest of the bunch if i only make the soup once/month?? go back and reuse your favorite recipes a few times in a month. it'll cut down on your grocery trips and your grocery bill AND you'll quickly ditch the recipe book or app or whatever because you'll know how to make it from memory in no time!

3. don't forget about lunches & snacks
for the longest time, i would only plan my dinners. which was all well and good until lunch rolls around on thursday and i'm like 'i cannot eat another turkey and swiss sandwich'. you don't have to make it fancy, you don't even have to make solid plans for each meal. but having a handful of ideas for lunches and snacks (smoothies! roasted chickpeas!) will help keep you out of that mid-week slump.

4. take stock of what you have
before you head out the door for the grocery, make sure to check your fridge and pantry against your shopping list. you may find a lonely bunch of baby spinach in the back of your fridge that would go great with the casserole you were planning for next week. bump it up to this week and you've got one less thing to buy and one less thing to toss when that spinach starts to wilt. knowing what you already have in your kitchen BEFORE you shop and before you finalize your list will save you so much time and money!

5. stock the fridge
when you've finished your shopping you'll need a place to store all of your new foods. every week when i get home from the grocery, the first thing i do is empty out the fridge of old leftovers that didn't last, empty or near-empty containers, old unused veggies. once it's cleaned up, i stock it up. i have actually gotten rid of the drawers in my fridge. it's a personal preference, but i prefer to have my veggies staring me in the face when i open the doors instead of hiding them away in a crisper where they'll be easily forgotten. this also allows easy access for the kids when they're hungry ;) 

6. prep your meals
i don't go crazy chopping & prepping at the beginning of the week but i do make sure every meal's ingredients are bundled together in a similar place. that way, it's easy to find when i get to wednesday's beet, spinach and quinoa bowl. i also spend some extra time on grocery day chopping up veggies for snacks and putting them on kid-friendly containers for easy access. bell peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes are favorites around here so i just chop 'em up, put them in a big bowl, and leave them on a lower shelf so when the kids say 'mama i'm hungry' i can say 'okay go get something from the fridge!'. when they open it up and the first thing they see is a colorful bowl of delicious veggies, they'll grab it first ;) sneaky sneaky. it works on grown-ups too. (keep a container of hummus or homemade spinach and artichoke dip on hand as well)

7. be flexible
this is probably the most important part of meal planning: the ability to make changes and/or ditch your list. we're only human. sometimes things come up, we have to adjust our schedule, or we just don't want to make dinner one night. IT'S OKAY. your meal plan is your guide, it's not a rule you have to follow. the key is to be flexible and allow yourself to go off the plan. but having the plan in the first place allows you to make that decision and adjust where necessary. i'll let you in on a secret: no one sticks to their meal plan perfectly. no one. so don't beat yourself up if one night you decide to toss it out the window and head to your favorite restaurant instead. (hint: maybe plan that in to your schedule occasionally?)