Do you struggle with bloating, indigestion, constipation or any other unpleasant side effect after eating certain foods? Well, I do and I’m coming clean about it!
Even after all these years practicing Intuitive Eating, it’s hard to come to terms with foods that no longer serve me. There’s almost like a mourning period. I’ve recently admitted to myself that red meat and onions don’t agree with me (alone or separate). I’m okay with poultry and fish, but red meat, doesn’t digest well in my body. When I’m honest about this, I believe that I’ve known this for some time, but because I was a vegetarian for nearly four years, and for the last year denied myself animal protein because I was hoping my cravings for them would subside (which they never did), I felt that denying myself red meat was depriving myself again. That didn’t feel good to me at all!
Coming to terms with foods that don’t agree with our bodies isn’t easy. I know many people who have food sensitivities (which is not the same as food allergies) or just experience discomfort but still cannot give them up because it kicks them into “deprivation mode”.
I want to be clear that food deprivation is never the answer. When we’re depriving ourselves of foods because of their calorie, fat or carb content (aka afraid of weight gain) we will fall victim to that diet/binge cycle and that never has a good outcome! However, minimizing or eliminating foods that no longer make our bodies feel good (regardless of their macro content) seems to make sense when we do this in a self-compassionate manner. In fact, when we view it through the self-compassion lens instead of the deprivation lens, it doesn’t seem as scary, right? Since I began thinking about it in these terms, I now feel this is a form of SELF-CARE and not food deprivation.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Just because I know that eating red meat and onions doesn’t agree with my tummy, that doesn’t always mean that I’m never going to eat them again. I’m not striving for perfection, but I am striving to feel good as often as possible without going to extremes. So, yes, I will limit these foods because I prefer to feel good and not have the uncomfortable burping, bloating and gas all day long. But, if I do choose to eat them, I will not beat myself up about it either. Remember, one of the best things about practicing Intuitive Eating is that it allows us to be flexible and kind to ourselves around food. Also, just because we have unconditional permission to eat all foods, that doesn’t mean that all foods will feel good in our bodies. Learning to distinguish which foods feel good in our bodies and which foods don’t is part of the “tuning in” process.
I also want to add that sometimes taking a good probiotic or digestive enzyme helps with digestive issues. I’ve also found that sometimes food combinations need to also be considered. So, in your quest to getting to know your body better, consider these things before completely eliminating foods from your diet.
If you’re struggling with certain foods because they don’t make your body feel good, I hope you’ll consider what I’ve written here so you can find a solution that works best for your body.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re new to Intuitive Eating, it’s not uncommon to have some digestive and/or other physical challenges because you’re likely eating foods that you haven’t eaten in some time. If that is your case, be patient and continue be mindful if a particular food(s) seems to be consistently causing you difficulty. Or, if you have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, always discuss these types of issues with your practitioners before minimizing or eliminating foods as it may impact your recovery.
What size plate are you using for your meals?
I recently heard someone say that they prefer to use small plates when they eat their meals. When I asked why, she said it’s because it helps her manage overeating. If you’re a member of the “Clean Plate Club” this is also used to help manage that. I thought to myself “Wow! She must have some powerful plates because my plates don’t have those kinds of special powers!”
I’m just being funny because I think that what she meant was when she uses a small plate, she tends to serve herself less food. And, while I understand why someone might think this is perfectly acceptable, my diet mentality warning antenna popped up and here’s why.
- Using small plates could be an indication that you’re trying to control how much you eat.
- It could be a way to control the types of foods you choose to eat based on size, length, etc.
- It could also be an indication that you don’t trust yourself around food and need a small a plate to guide you.
On the plus side, I see that using a small plate could give you that pause you may need to check your fullness levels. While I’m 100% in favor of that, be sure that you allow your fullness level guide your next decision and not your clean plate. So, if you clean your small plate and discover that you’re still hungry and want more food, give yourself permission to eat more food! Remember, food restriction has the same negative effects as dieting and usually leads to a binge eating or overeating later.
Why does this matter? It matters because people are sometimes using small plates to tell their bodies to stop eating but they may still be hungry. But, because their plate is clean, they don’t check-in or all allow themselves to eat more because the plate is their fullness meter and not their body. While we are free to use whatever size plate we want, if we ever want to learn to trust and allow our bodies to guide us (which is the focal point of Intuitive Eating), we need to tune-in to our bodies and stop using external things to tell us what our bodies need.
I know what you may be saying to yourself…
“Yeah, but when I use a big plate I overeat and feel awful!”
My response: I get it, but if you keep allowing and tuning in, this will dissipate over time. Patience in the process is the answer here.
“I don’t want to overeat because I’m afraid I’ll get fat.”
My response: If you continue to believe that thinner is better or being thinner is healthier, you’ll unlikely ever find food freedom.
“I have a hard time honoring my fullness and need the small plate or _______ to guide me.”
My response: Take your time and tune-in during and after your plate is empty to assess where your fullness meter is. Let this be your guide, not your plate.
Trust me, I’ve said things like this to myself and have heard the same or similar comments from my clients, so I get it, girlfriend! I’m not judging, I’m trying to help you see this in a new light.
However, the reality is that any time we’re trying to control our food intake with a plate, a timer, a bogus rule, we’re not eating intuitively. Period. If you want to truly be free from food obsession and/or restriction, weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) (even though you’re not stepping on the scale) you’ll need to learn to tap into your bodies inherent inner wisdom. With that, you can relearn to trust your body so it can tell you what it needs, how much it needs, and when it needs it. Basically, you’ll be relearning what dieting/restricting stole from you for all those years!!
Getting in touch with your hunger and honoring your fullness is one of the most fundamental concepts of Intuitive Eating. Believe me, because I’ve done it myself, trying to control your food in any way will never allow you to fully embrace Intuitive Eating. However, allowing all foods (unless there is a sensitivity or allergy to them) and tuning in to your natural bodies cues will.
So, use whatever size plate you want bearing in mind what I said. When you learn how to tune-in to your body instead of using your plate to tell you when you’re full, you’re flexing that trust muscle which makes food freedom possible.
What external distractions are you using to control what and how much you’re eating?
Do you eat mindfully or do you often scarf down your meals without even knowing what you ate? Mindful eating, simply put, is the act of being present when you eat. It allows you to put all your concerns, frustrations and other uncomfortable feelings that may be distracting you on hold while you’re eating. This allows you to have a more pleasant eating experience so you can actually taste, smell and savor your food. Eating mindfully also helps you to become more aware of your hunger and fullness cues, which helps to eliminate overeating and mindless bingeing! (more…)
Do you trust your body to tell you when it’s hungry or do you eat when the clock strikes a certain time? What about fullness. Do you gauge your fullness on what’s left on your plate or on how you feel physically?
In my coaching experience, I’ve seen that most women (like 95% of them), use external cues to determine their hunger and fullness instead of tuning in to their internal cues.
I get it. I really do. I used to do the same thing before I was formally introduced to Intuitive Eating a few years ago. Relying on my internal cues was something completely foreign to me. In fact, the whole concept made me very uncomfortable. Honestly, I didn’t think it was even possible to do. (more…)
Do you honor your physical hunger? Or, do you try to convince yourself that you can’t be hungry because it isn’t time to eat or because you’ve been snacking too much lately?
Depriving ourselves of food when we’re physically hungry is simply not wise and, in fact, is counterproductive in trying to improve our relationships with food. Our bodies need to be fed adequately to maintain our energy levels. Not allowing ourselves to eat can push us over the edge into excessive hunger, irritability, and bingeing. (more…)