About re-discovering intuition and using it for better health and nutrition.

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Our body is amazing and can do so much! If only we would take care of it and nourish it. The body is constantly trying to tell us what it needs to feel nourished and be a better vessel for our souls. The thing is, we don’t really listen. Our head gets in the way.

Yes, our head gets in the way with all its knowledge and experience, with its shoulds and shouldn’t’s, with its predictions and calculations. But wait, for over and above there is also intuition, that immediate gut feeling frequently silenced by our head.

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Intuition in the sense of listening to our body’s wisdom, is the ability to understand something without the need for conscious reasoning.

When we connect with our body, listen to our body, and follow our intuition to discover what is truly needed to feel nourished, then both our nutrition and health begin to morph into an optimal state. This optimal health state (different for everybody) is often forgotten while we listen to what our head tell us instead of our body wisdom.

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Intuitive nutrition is an amazing way to seek our very own perfect nutrition, balance, and health. Simply because each body is unique and there is no a perfect way for everybody. Also, there is not a way to nutrition that will work forever because we, as human beings, are constantly changing.

Re-discover intuition: Ask yourself what your body needs now. If you are craving, what’s missing? And if you are hungry, what’s needed: food, a walk, rest, or hydration?

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web.

Diets everywhere I go.

I felt compelled to write about the subject because it seems to be everywhere. Last week, I attended four dinner parties, two brunches and a (whole day) pool party last Sunday. Those who know me well may swiftly testify that such a quantity of events is huge and abnormal for me. Still, I could not manage to avoid the subject (diets) at any of them!

Peer pressure is defined as “a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them”. Diet peer pressure exists. There are hundreds of serious articles published about this.

I’m 45 and even though many may think I’m in need of one, I am not on a “diet”. Nevertheless, my personal health, the same as my family’s, is always a top priority for me. We all happily exercise in whatever way we enjoy the most (because healthy exercise is supposed to be about joy not torture) and we thoroughly enjoy eating (quality food) mindfully and joyously. My life has not been ruled by diets for years. Notwithstanding, it still bothers me… the fact that diets overpower any other subject as conversation topic at dinners, brunches and everywhere else. Even though I’m sure about my lifestyle choices, I can still feel the social pressure and general dissatisfaction.

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Sometimes it even pains me. Yes, it pains me to watch life’s moments wasted away like that, energy that could otherwise be used for so many positive topics. But the worst part is to perceive that uneasy feeling silently shared by everyone: The feeling of not being beautiful enough, not thin enough, and not good enough; the feeling that lingers silently within each amazing soul I see at the table around me. Such valuable people, accomplished women, incredible and amazing daughters and moms who have achieved so much, such big beautiful hearts being uncomfortable, terribly uncomfortable with themselves.

The situation may bother me but most of all worries me. Since dieting is a temporary food plan, diets are not sustainable and neither do they create sustainable change for most people. Moreover, the deprivation of restrictive diets may lead to a diet-binge cycle which in turn may lead to guilt and frustration, finally leading towards self-loathing (specially in teens /// all other women or men not excluded though). Also, years of chronic dieting may result in slowing down metabolism and health issues.

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I really hope lack of self-appreciation not to be the result of the permanent year round ‘in a diet’ status of the wonderful people I saw recently. I hope it with all my heart. I also hope to go to a ‘diet free’ social event and soon.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

You don’t need an eating disorder for your weight loss pursuit to become a chronic form of self-abuse.

I have two beautiful daughters. I have fought hard to help them choose to deter themselves from materialism, to love themselves and their bodies, to respect themselves and their souls above all.

We live in a difficult city where looks and what you own takes precedence above all. Now more than ever, I would like to tell so many teenagers that they are beautiful just as they are. Just the same, I would like to tell so many women that the fact that 40 does not usually look like 20 is not a tragedy and that obsessing about it depletes life of energy and takes away time that could otherwise be dedicated to loved ones and to new, enriching, and exciting experiences.

Some weeks ago I read another blogger’s (Tracy I, Fit is a feminist issue) as she wrote about having been suffering from food poisoning. She wrote what follows: “Back in the day I, or one of the friends whom I complained to about my affliction, would have thought or said something like, “at least you’ll lose some weight.” Now, this is a ridiculous thing to say, I realize. But back then it was assumed that weight loss was an ever present goal in the life of every woman”. Sadly, I believe it still is an ever present goal that somehow has morphed into this idea that losing weight will make every trouble in life go away. So, lets do ourselves a favor and post this somewhere we can see it as often as needed:

Important note to self:

Loving myself and taking care of myself and my health is a priority, if the self-care nourishing process I choose includes losing pounds it´s ok. However, if the way I am or the way my body looks prevents me from living a full, happy life and I choose then to attack myself and my body until the process becomes a perennial obsession, then it’s not ok. Get help.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

“We are what we eat”… not exactly.

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We are not just what we eat but what we metabolize and, in order to do so, our bodies should be in a relaxed and balanced state. Of course the quality of the food we eat and the choices we make are very important; along with (just as important) stress management and taking care of hidden bottled up emotions. Otherwise, we could be eating the healthiest of foods and still be unable to achieve health.

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People who has survived traumatic events (even from long ago), highly sensitive people and those who live at a fast and stressful pace all the time may see signs of metabolic unbalance even if they follow a healthy diet. Toxic beliefs and negative self-talk also affect how we digest and assimilate food.

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We are complex human beings and  we are not just what we eat… not exactly.

Choose to be kind and grateful.

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Food after mood or mood after food.

What we eat affects our mood and our mood affects what we eat. It’s a fact. It’s the way it is. The longer the (food/mood or vice versa) cycle goes on, the longer it takes to break free of it and correct course. If the cycle has been going on for a long time, it will take a long time to correct. Quitting ‘cold turkey’ either food or emotions usually ends up in failure, so taking just one or several steps every day is key in breaking the pattern. Take notice… if mood started the cycle, taking steps for inner self-care first is essential. On the other hand, if food started the cycle, taking steps to add more nourishing food to slowly displace the bad food choices should start to decelerate the problem. A combination of both, inner self care and better food choices is optimal but I do suggest to start with the main cause first. Look not for overnight perfection or correction but for slow daily progress and since sometimes things get worse before they get better, self-compassion and understanding will go a long way in the process.

Choose to be kind and grateful.

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An opinion on “healthy living”.

What is “healthy living” anyway? Well, healthy living is not equal to just a “good diet and exercise”, at least not for me. I am not discarding the importance of good nutrition and body movement; I just think the equation is incomplete.

Aren’t we all in the search for health and happiness?  Of course, health and happiness are not goals per se but a road to travel in, by embracing every moment and looking for balance as much as possible. Indeed this road is definitively not linear and will always have ups and downs. We may think that by being healthy we will be happier but on the contrary, it is by learning to be happy that we become healthier.  In our attempt to live life to its fullest we need to understand that there is not one magic (physical) solution that will keep us healthy and happy in a sustainable- permanent way if we do not take mind and spirit into account.

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A person can be eating the healthiest organic foods and over exercising but if emotions are out of sync,  stress prevails and the spirit is lost somewhere, it is all for nothing. We need a balance between mind, body and spirit. I’m definitively not an expert on the disciplines that teach profound mindfulness, but I know the importance of taking care of our emotional and spiritual needs in order to have health.

What happens when we feel unhealthy, unhappy, and uncomfortable is that we aim at healing the physical without taking into consideration that the symptoms we feel are often a sign of lack of balance in our lives and/or a sign of excess stress. We want to fix the physical first and so we may use all sorts of meds, then diet and exercise. When these attempts fail or the healing results end up being short-lived, then the time for us to accept that we must address the other areas is finally here.

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We are spiritual beings temporarily living in a body, therefore, we may feel better for a while using meds, diet and exercise, but if we don’t attend worry, anxiety, fear and a higher purpose in life, we cannot completely heal or function. On the other hand, if we want to attend other areas without good nutrition and exercise, it is not possible to heal completely too. So, healthy living cannot be reduced to just what we work, eat and how we exercise. We need balance in life (physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual).

Choose to be kind and grateful.

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Some thoughts on emotional eating and binging.

Emotional eating and binging are two different things but have two characteristics in common: Both are NOT about lack of willpower and both happen if, and only if, stress is present. Some people stop eating whenever stress is present but most will look for food (or other stuff) either consciously or unconsciously when their level of stress rises.

Emotional eating is defined as “an increase in food intake in response to negative emotions”.  Simply put, we use emotional eating as a strategy to deal with uncomfortable feelings. The truth is, nobody likes ‘uncomfortable’ and most of us are ill equipped to deal with feelings anyway. We have been taught to suppress them. Society frowns upon those who express authenticity in their feelings even if they do so in an acceptable way. We are also taught from an early age that strong emotions go hand in hand with food. This is valid and understandable because, physiologically, food works as a numbing agent, hence helping with the uneasiness that comes with certain emotions.

As we grow up, we tend to forget that emotions are meant to be experienced and felt even when uncomfortable. We really try not to experience the sensations they bring with them and the vulnerability they confer, therefore losing emotions’ real purpose along the way. You see, feelings must be acknowledged and felt through in order for them to fade away and leave their teachings behind. If we bury them, it will not be without negative consequences. Practicing getting to know you, that is, how you would feel if no one was telling how you were supposed to feel is a wonderful tool against emotional eating. Thus, embracing your true self will allow feelings to flow more easily.

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Binge-eating, on the other hand, is defined as “a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating”. There is a spectrum here as to severity, ranging from once every while to daily, with or without purging. Nevertheless, binging is a compulsion and we usually don’t know that it is useless to fight against it…sooner or later we will always be defeated and left only in confusion, shame, fear and powerlessness.

So, what to do? First, remember this has nothing to do with willpower. Binging (any kind) is an unstoppable survival mechanism from our nervous system. Second, remember binging is a compulsion and as such, it comes to us in waves. Anyone who has had the chance of swimming in the ocean knows it’s easier to let go and ride the wave than to fight it. Last but not least, binging always has a teaching to offer.

This gives us a new way of looking at the situation. Instead of declaring binging an enemy, let’s befriend it. Our body is always trying to find balance, so being in stress and eating too much is a correction course. So explore and see what you are truly hungry for: Maybe you are deficient in nutrition for being on a diet constantly. Maybe you are low on essential fat, carbs or calories. Maybe you usually skip breakfast and then are too busy for lunch so at night you are ravenous. Maybe you over exercise. Maybe you have been denying yourself pleasure for a long long time. Maybe you are trying to have too much control around food, relationships, work. Maybe you are unhappy about __________(fill in the blank).

Remember that in order to binge, you have to be under stress. Always try to break the stress response according to your circumstances: Take a walk, go outside (walking around your desk might help too). Take several deep breaths. Take a shower or a bath. Drink water. Lay down for some minutes (or more), breathe and play some music.

If nothing works then make it pleasurable: Take out a bowl and place some comfort food in it, then sit down, breathe, decide to enjoy it, breathe again and eat it very slowly savoring it. All these actions will relax you and will help to transform the binge into a pleasurable treat.

But if all is lost,  the most important thing to do is be kind to yourself. Remember habits are hard to break and require practice, practice, practice. And everyone overeats from time to time even if no one admits it.

We are unique beings so we have to individually listen to our own body. Get curious, investigate and see what it needs. Find a proper binge, something you are passionate about and make time for it, let it be your new indulgence.

It is important to know that quick fixes are predictable long term failures. So step by step, small daily changes lead to less emotional eating and binging.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Image from the internet