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

“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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Improve health just a bit.

Improve just a bit every day. You deserve it. A bit is possible. A bit is accessible.

Go to bed a bit earlier. Eat a bit slower than yesterday. Be a little bit more present. Give a little bit of time to a friend. Drink a bit more water. Add a bit of fresh (unprocessed) food to your plate. Walk a bit more. Do a little bit more of what you fancy. Smile a bit more. Dare to think a bit more positive. Get a bit of sun. Be a little bit more patient. Bit by bit get a dream accomplished. Read a bit before bed. Turn off gadgets just a bit more often…

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(Do note that improving  just a bit is not a recommended approach for addictions).

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

About detecting pointless energy leaks and doing something about them.

As Glennon Melton says: “Life is brutiful , both brutal and beautiful”.

A “brutiful” life is precisely the reason why the amount of energy within us (depending on age and circumstance) needs to be managed wisely. It is essential to know how to handle this energy in order to avoid chronic fatigue or, worse, a complete burn out. By identifying our energy leaks and doing whatever necessary to fix them as much as possible we can avoid unnecessary and avoidable drainage. How much of such drainage is preventable?

Well, the leaks may be either physiological or psychological and there may be many interconnected leaks at a time. Also, there are (of course) events in everybody’s life that can drain our energy but are inevitable. I would like to mention some that can be lessened or avoided. Some common physiological leaks are: Not enough sleep, excess use of sugar or caffeine, undetected food allergies, excess use of electronics, eating too much or too little, over exercising or not exercising at all, or nutritional imbalance. On the other hand, some psychological leaks are: Stress at work, anxiety, fear, toxic limiting beliefs, negative thoughts, unforgiveness, lack of spiritual foundation, undigested experiences, perfectionism and unexpressed feelings. I must share that some of these are very difficult to detect without outside help.

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It’s hard to accept when we are unnecessarily leaking energy, since we fear fatigue and we don’t like its arrival. We always believe we don’t have time to be fatigued.  Nevertheless, sooner or later fatigue arrives and it might surprise us by being a blessing in disguise, a warning sign looking for our attention. It is imperative to our overall health that we give fatigue a chance to deliver its message and stop pushing ourselves for a moment in order to listen. The times when we do slow down, our health and energy level are deeply improved.

The good news is that even though our energy level is finite, it is renewable. The key is to detect where we are leaking energy and learn how to manage it, for this situation cannot go on forever and will catch up with us leaving us empty. That way to renew energy is by paying attention and taking care of ourselves.

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It’s not a good idea to be borrowing energy instead of renewing it. We borrow energy from coffee, energy drinks, drugs or sheer willpower. We can also borrow energy from other people. Energy comes from within and replenishes from within.  It’s a better idea to identify whatever quantity is it you have already and spend accordingly. If you are low on energy you need to slow down. It is ok to do that.

Fatigue is also a sign that life changes are in order. Learning to say no, going out to nature, respecting sleep, and even taking small breaks when other things are not possible (like five minutes outside, five minutes breathing deeply, five minutes in the sun) might make a huge difference. Identifying and preventing energy leaks is a subject worthy of our attention because chronic fatigue takes a very long time to heal, so we might as well do everything in our power to prevent it.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet.

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

Intruder alert: Food obsession present.

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Out of all the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings within us, our obsession with food and body is seldom considered a health threat. In fact, it is accepted as the healthy thing to do and sometimes it is even admired and glorified.

Although not true for everybody, it is common for us to spend part of the day wasting time and energy on food related thoughts like: Food quantities, which foods are “bad”, which foods are “good”,  at  what time is best to eat, try this old diet, try that new diet, try a detox, read about food, count calories, etc. It is also common to let ourselves be consumed by negative thoughts such as: I don’t look like I “should”,  I am not thin enough, not muscular enough, not attractive enough, etc.

This kind of thoughts have a strong tendency to become obsessions.  It is a fact that there are people who never have a need to diet. Yes, these people exist. But the truth is that most of us are either new to dieting or have been chronic dieters for years and we are all equally sorrounded by a collective obsession on food. An obsession that blinds us and in some cases, consumes us. This obsession on food and body  may become an intruder who slowly poisons life’s good moments.

On the other hand, we are also sorrounded by tons of information from friends, experts and all kinds of media. As a result, the good foods vs bad foods debate becomes a constant presence everywhere. Since some people choose to eat vegetarian, some choose a high protein diet, some eat gluten free, fat free or low carb, some eat all organic, the “perfect food or diet” debate never ends.

Over time, many discover that the perfect eating approach only works for a while and gives temporary results. We realize that the constant struggles of daily life, together with this obsession, eventually end up leaving us frustrated, anxious and full of disappointment.

Therefore, obsessing with food and the body we “should” have is just the tip of an iceberg in a constant search to fulfill the need to feel good about ourselves and live a happy life. There is an urgent need to be aware of this, let go and start working towards self consciousness, listen to our own bodies’ signals and symptoms, discover what is good for ourselves in an individual way. Also, it is important to learn that food is not the enemy, it exists to nourish us, to give us joy, vitality and health.

Lets discover what our own body needs, explore, heal and find a new path to health and happiness through small daily changes and self-awareness.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Image from the web.