“We don’t remember how it feels anymore, perhaps we never knew…We clog up our body’s intelligence, we skip meals, we lack quality sleep, we continue to live in stress/go mode, we rely on stimulants for energy, we willingly intoxicate, we snack on the go – all in all confusing our innate intelligence, and in turn numbing our connection to self, to others, and to the Earth.”
How many of us have sat down in a restaurant, looking at the menu and taking ages to decide what to order?
How many of us use the same shopping list over and over?
How many of us avoid certain foods?
How many of you are doing it for your own health?
How many of you are doing it for the health of others?
And lastly, how many of you think of your food choices as a mirror to how much integrity you show up with in life?
You may agree with me that these questions are quite triggering, they push beyond the surface of what, on average, we are prepared to share with strangers. Mostly for the fear of being judged and excluded.
Perhaps you are hearing them for the first time, or perhaps you have the answers already.
I am here today to talk about a concept that is incredibly close to my heart - Intuitive Eating.
Intuitive eating is a very simple concept, it does what it says on the tin – the aim is to use the body as a main navigator, as it governs our energy and output. The aim is to trust our gut, no pun intended.
Our body is an immensely smart organism, a matrix of organs, hormones also known as chemical messengers, receptors and a web of different cells. It is home to the heart that beats and transmits, the liver which neutralizes toxins, and the skin which is one of the most beautiful boundaries that exist. And with over a billion reactions occurring in our body at any given second, it is undoubtedly the most intelligent machine that has ever existed.
We are 70% water, which means we are affected by the cycles of the Moon, each cell of our body depends on hydration.
Our brain is 60% fat, it can handle 11 million bits of information per second, although our conscious mind is only capable of processing around 50 bits per second.
We are 90% bacteria (mainly in our gut) and most of the happy hormone ‘Serotonin’ is made in the gut.
The gut is referred to as our 3rd Nervous system.
Our vital organs rely on a balance of macronutrients to function and beyond that – to thrive – and those are carbs, fats and proteins. To dive deeper, we need amino acids and different cofactors to transform nutrients into bioavailable states. The number of tasks our body must perform in order to keep us alive and thriving is paramount. And whilst this is all happening within us, it is completely absent from the view of a naked eye. It’s undetectable.
Which is why in the West, we often think of health and wellness only when something is visibly imbalanced or can be felt as pain internally. Preventative medicine is almost unheard of in our society.
Whenever I marvel at the complexity of the human body, I cannot help but wonder why we don’t celebrate it on a daily basis. And then the inevitable question arises – ‘’Why do we neglect our personal and collective health and wellbeing?’’
The answers are available to us, however, as we live in a world of opposites, what seems to be incredibly simple often comes with complexity, and this is precisely the case when it comes to Nutrition.
As children, through the developmental stages of our lives (0-7, and 7-14) we grow up to adopt and borrow behaviours and habits that resemble those of our primary caregivers, be it our parents or someone else. And, depending on what that looked like for each person, the arsenal of knowledge is absorbed through our childhood. We get fed, and we learn what we are taught, without much room to explore curiosity or exercise personal autonomy. We absorb what’s in front of us.
In the UK, most kids and adults alike lack knowledge of how food is grown, where it comes from and what the nutrient value it holds. Our educational systems do not place enough focus on the importance of healthy nutrition, instead we are taught about consumerism and the importance of money.
Later in life, as we journey through adolescence, we quickly learn that food can be a source of comfort, and it can also be a source of control. Unfortunately, that’s how most eating disorders develop, and I would guess that a lot of us here today had some form of imbalance with food in our lives, I know I have. As I studied Nutritional Therapy 8 years ago, I tried every diet out there, trialling benefits and recording outcomes. I called it research, some called it obsession and extremist, and ultimately my body did not agree with what I was doing.
Of course, it did not, I was using my mind and forceful energy to control what I put inside.
And as we continue to grow and through the abundance of choice for most of us (like fruits and veggies out of season all year around), we are programmed to indulge, and make choices through filters (sugar, fat, salt), instead of listening to our intuition. Our taste buds become unrefined, blocked and we struggle to make choices that are healthy, because we simply don’t know what healthy is for us.
We don’t remember how it feels anymore, perhaps we never knew…We clog up our body’s intelligence, we skip meals, we lack quality sleep, we continue to live in stress/go mode, we rely on stimulants for energy, we willingly intoxicate, we snack on the go – all in all confusing our innate intelligence, and in turn numbing our connection to self, to others, and to the Earth.
We often fail to listen to our intuition, and instead conform to societal pressures and experiment with yoyo dieting, trying one thing after another, further confusing the body and clouding its own judgement. We outsource our morality.
And just like that, from the most intelligent machine in the universe – we are transformed into a time ticking bomb, waiting to explode. When we give our power away in one area of life or relationship, in this case with food – all areas of life are impacted. The more we override our intuition, the less we can hear its signals and feel its guidance.
How can we best serve our body with food?
Acknowledgement of diversity is key. Whilst we are genetically 99.9% alike, the 0.9% answers for all our differences, our genetic predispositions, ability to digest food, convert energy etc, therefore one diet does not fit all. It’s physiologically impossible.
However, there are a few things that are universally beneficial to all when it comes to healthy nutrition:
Seasonal veggies and fruits – reconnecting to your environment
Balanced plates (protein, carbs, fats)
Not mixing hot and cold together
Chewing numerous times to help the digestive process
Enjoy what you have eating, without guilt and shame
Withholding from food for at least 12 hours a day unless it’s contraindicated.
Besides the basics, we can learn to use our innate intelligence and intuition and consume foods that our system is asking for. This is a process, one which takes commitment and diligence, and the benefits are endless – more energy, better sleep, fluidity in movement, clearer thinking. It’s coming back home, to self. It’s syncing up with natural cycles and seasonality.
How do we move towards intuitive eating?
Well, first of all we must start with self-enquiry, a genuine desire to live in synergy with our instincts and needs. Secondly, I would encourage self-evaluation in the form of journaling. Some useful questions to ask yourself are below.
What is your relationship with food like? What words come up when you think of this? How does it make you feel?
Honestly evaluate your food filters – what are they? You can keep a food diary for a couple of weeks to identify patterns.
How do you feel after food?
Your current diet – is it serving your highest good? Answer and explore with honesty and without judgement.
Why are you making the choices you are making? What’s driving you.
And lastly, I would encourage implementation of change though a short body reset, a reboot. In order to reset the system, we must first break away from the chains of filters and unhealthy habits, this can be achieved with support from a nutritional therapist, detoxes and intermittent fasting.
It is not advisable to make radical changes as this can disrupt the mechanisms in our body, therefore a gentle yet scalable approach that is prior discussed with a trusted practitioner is desirable for any long-lasting change.
May I remind us that we are ever in control of a few things in life – and how we nourish our body is one of them. There are many factors that contribute to being healthy, being optimal, and food is just one of them. But it’s a damn good place to start. So, the next time you go to a restaurant, feel into what your body is asking for and put your intuitive skills to practice before you pick up a menu. If the restaurant doesn’t have what you want, use your voice, and ask for it. It doesn’t hurt to try.
I firmly believe that once we straighten out our relationship with food, and start to eat intuitively, we start to live intuitively, and as a consequence - we claim back our personal authority and stand rooted in sovereignty.