September 7, 2008

Diet-Free and Intuitive Eating

The word diet sounds so restrictive. And it sounds like something that is so limiting. Here’s the definition on the web for the word “diet”:
  1. a prescribed selection of foods

  2. the usual food and drink consumed by an organism (person or animal)

  3. follow a regimen or a diet, as for health reasons; "He has high blood pressure and must stick to a low-salt diet"
  4. eat sparingly, for health reasons or to lose weight

  5. the act of restricting your food intake (or your intake of particular foods)
Wouldn't it be nice to live "diet-free." And eat whatever you want! But that doesn't mean with random abandon either!
In the United States it is quite apropos that we have so many “diets” and yet we have the highest percentage of obesity and other ailments related to our modern eating habits. In other countries the populations don’t really think about food and when they should eat. Most people eat to satisfy their body’s needs and seem to be doing so much better than their American counterparts. It is important to understand nutrition and eat with balance as well.
However, there is an aspect that must also be addressed, it’s called “intuitive eating.” It is a natural way of eating and allows the body to tell you what to eat and when. How about that for a shift? Maybe your body knows better than all of those “experts.” It’s is more natural to feed the body when it is hungry versus trying to figure out what the body should eat. It’s a given that we are a logical society and it’s important to “know” certain basic facts about nutrition and supplements and what vitamins we need for what function. However, there is a bit of overkill don’t you think?
I have been experimenting with this type of intuitive eating and it definitely takes practice. I will ask myself a question about what I should eat. I am focusing on a “way of eating” versus a “diet” I should follow. Sometimes my mind tells me what I “think” about a certain food or how I “should” feel based on my past eating habits and conditioning. My goal is to be able to ask the question and to really “feel” what I should eat and “if” I should eat. I know that I will feel better when I can follow my instincts on a more regular basis regarding food.

Another topic I would like to explore related to diets is “cravings.” A craving does not necessarily have to be something negative or evil. A craving could mean that you have a desire for something that your body is telling you we actually need, a vitamin we are missing or a certain type of food. The key is feeding the body with the best choice foods to give us the nutrients we need when those cravings show up. Just because you are craving something it is up to you to fill that need with the best choice possible. It’s not necessarily a “bad” thing. It just is. The body is telling you it needs something sweet, sour salty spicy or bitter. It’s up to you what you put in your mouth to satisfy this “craving.”

Just because you want something crunchy and salty doesn’t mean you have to choose the most fat-laden cheese crisps, but perhaps a crunchy nut with extra salt or even a corn tortilla quickly pan-fried with a sprinkling of cheese. Perhaps there is a better choice that would satisfy the same “craving” and yet be a much healthier alternative. Ice cream can be satisfied with the heaviest Ben & Jerry’s or a homemade mango coconut ice cream, yet would satisfy your taste buds and craving. It is important to remember that you choose to put everything into your mouth and it’s up to you each morsel and each bite that goes into your system. It’s an education and a habit at the same time.

Eat well. Live well.

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