INTUITIVE EATING HAS BECOME UN-INTUITIVE
I received a text from my dear friend Dana who asked what I thought about an article written by CNN HEALTH, regarding returning to intuitive eating. The gist of it was that if we return to our childlike self, where we listen to our bodies and know what we feel like eating, when we are hungry and when we aren't, then we can restore our bodies to the size they are supposed to be. It suggests that we stop discriminating against size, and feel more satisfied and happy along the way. This sounds terrific- if only...
Here is a link to the article,
INTUITIVE EATING: THE ANTI-DIET, OR HOW PLEASURE FROM FOOD IS THE ANSWER,
SAY IT'S CREATORS.
And here was my reply, with a few extra added words because I couldn't help myself when I started editing. Well, I have a mouthful to say.
Yes I think our bodies HAVE HAD more accurate internal sensors that WHEN interpreted correctly could guide our eating. These sensors must be rediscovered, for sure.
In a study giving children an array of choices everyday on a banquet table, often they would binge on certain foods for a few days and then switch to another and then another in the following days until they’d gotten all their macronutrient needs met over time.
This seems to mimic nature when a tribe would catch a deer and everyone would eat deer meat at each meal until it was gone. There was no round plate with half greens and veggies, a small lump of rice and a portion of animal protein. Back then, I imagine they would hunt or gather for the next day's food and eat to until they were full or at least, eat until it was gone.
Also BEFORE big grocery stores and modern day markets that carry all kinds of foods grown in all seasons available to us around the world, all year long, we had seasonal eating. The earth supplied the appropriate food at the appropriate time of year. When the season changed, the food changed creating a natural revolution of foods that would give us ample amounts of certain nutrients for that season and a change right when we though the couldn't eat any more chard, lets say.
For example, an abundance of fruit that grows in the summer gives us light, cool, high carbohydrate, easy to digest access to to highly absorbable energy from natural sugars for the long hot summer days.
Winter provides us nuts, seeds, beans and grains, root vegetables and sweet vegetables, along with fatty animals for soups and stews to keep us warm and plump us up to insulate us from the cold.
Sprouts and abundant greens in the spring help cleanse our systems with fat emulsifying properties after all that sludgy, heavy food, and the cycle would continue again, every year.
Nature provides basically a three season rotation diet, according to my Ayurvedic teacher Dr. John Douillard, to encourage the entire rainbow of different nutrients to make their way into our bodies. This reduces boredom and encourages anticipation and appreciation.
So... if we had NATURAL conditions and HEALTHY, CLEAN UNADULTERATED, UNPROCESSED, FREE RANGE, WILD CAIGHT, NON GMO, NO PESTICIDES, HERBICIDES, FUNGICIDE FOODS; COMPLETE NATURAL FERTILIZERS and if our food had ALL THE NUTRIENTS IN TACT AS OUR ANCESTORS HAD... then maybe our intuitive eating would make sense.
In this day and age, you’d have to either live on a farm untouched by industrialization and eat locally or be incredibly intuitive and aware of your subtle needs as well as incredibly savvy to know how to navigate WHOLE REAL, UNPROCESSED, UNADULTERATED food; know how to prepare it or find it, and then we’d have a START to this idea of intuitive eating. I do believe we need to return to our intuition, but we may first need some education about real food, and our bodies and their signals, before we can understand what we are craving and feeling.
We’ve had our brains, ideas, and taste buds tricked and manipulated for so long, I believe most of us are confused about how to interpret our cravings.
For instance, the craving for sugar...
Our energy has dipped, and yes, sugar is a quick pick me up. Maybe the body....
Is tired, and needs sleep.
Is thirsty, and it is misinterpreting thirst for hunger.
Is needing touch or sex or pleasure and the rush of sugar is as close as it can get to the feeling of oxytocin.
Needs movement because it has been too stagnant and needs to circulate the blood to get oxygen to our brains and body tissues.
Is tired; it's late and the craving for sugar and food is really the scream for sleep?
Needs protein and is tired because of lack of certain macronutrients. Perhaps instead of giving it more sugar, more carbohydrates or starving ourselves, we need something more hearty?
All of these needs can cause sugar cravings. The craving for protein doesn't have to be animal based. It can be a healthy array of plant foods that provide enough of the essential amino acids to build and repair or muscle tissue. These nutrients can come from nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes and beans, cruciferous vegetables; even avocados, mushrooms, and potatoes.
Learning how to interpret those cravings are vital. Otherwise I would be eating cupcakes everyday. For real!
Yes, we need to stop discriminating against body shape as a way to define a person, for sure. We come in all ages, shapes, sizes and colors, just as nature intended. The bodies that are obese, however, are in part due to our unnatural food supply, our discrimination against race, socioeconomic status, advertising, sedentary jobs, overwork, life struggles, lack of whole food availability, time to prepare it, and sadly, education specific to nutrition which is unfair to expect of all human beings. We cannot all be nutrition experts. Even the nutrition experts are struggling as nutrition is not math or a perfect science.
The obesity epidemic has hit an all time high where 1/3 of all American adults (70 million,) are obese. Many children are at risk of dying before their parents of diabetes, a preventable disease based on what is on the end of our forks.
This is not about discrimination, this is about dangerous levels of malnutrition creating aberrant bodies, cravings behaviors, emotional disturbance, separation, stress and judgement against people who are starving. Finding nutrition in our processed foods these days is like the well worn platitude of looking for a needle in a haystack. People are looking for nutrition in these highly processed, deficient foods that are full of refined or toxic ingredients, devoid of the nutrients they seek, so they are still hungry even though they appear over fed. The old face of malnutrition was the swollen bellied, starving Ethiopian child, while side by side we have the new face of malnutrition in the over fed and under nourished bodies of people who have become obese.
Our conventional food supply, available to most people are generally highly adulterated, processed, frankenfoods filled with excess sugar, poor quality fats, refined carbohydrates, genetically modified substances and are deficient in the natural magic and quantities of their origins.
The CNN Health intuitive eating article didn’t once mention quality of food or whether eating a weeks worth of candy bars were part of eating whatever you are craving.
QUALITY of food is ONE of the nutritive keys, in my opinion to healthy weight maintenance and satisfaction. Of course quality lives, movement, job satisfaction, financial security, healthy relationships, time to rest, recover and repair our bodies, minds and spirits, play very large roles as well.
We are holistic beings after all. It is not just one thing that affects the organism, there are many factors that grow our health and our well being. Many 1st world humans have been binging on fast food as much as we binge on work, care taking, life maintenance, bills, and stress that squeezes out time for play, rest and joy. We need a new diet, that's for sure. A "return to nature" diet, if we can find our nature again. Some of us may judge the hippy world, and it has it's down sides in any land of extremes, but in that rebellion, there is a point. Protect our nature, live in nature. We are made of nature.
HIGH QUALITY food can at least provide the foundation of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, micronutrients, fiber, protein, unrefined carbohydrates, and super food magic that lives in nature that gives us the basic building blocks of what our bodies need to grow and operate. Maybe then, when we're not starving and we have energy to work, sleep, think and focus, we can calm our hearts enough to look inward at our soul nutrition. Then we can make better life choices based on our values, rather than coming from the survival needs that activate our fear when we are trying to survive.
If we can get this type of food and soul food into our bodies, THEN let’s see what we crave.