May 18, 2023
If you follow my work, you know that I am a huge believer in Intuitive Eating and making eating decisions based on how your body feels. Many people mistakenly believe that Intuitive Eating means that you eat whatever you want, whenever you want, with no real regard to health, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, at the beginning of the Intuitive Eating journey, as you are learning about what feels good and opening yourself up to eating foods that were previously forbidden, you may be choosing less nutritious foods. This is part of the process of giving yourself unconditional permission to eat and reducing the emotional charge surrounding those forbidden foods. However, once you start moving into the Principle of Gentle Nutrition, there are many things about our eating that we take into consideration. For example, one might consider:
It's important to look ahead so you know that if you have a busy day and won't have many opportunities to eat, you can make a choice that feels good and still keep you full. In contrast, if you have lots of opportunities to eat, you have some flexibility to choose smaller meals that don't necessarily have to fill you up for an extended period of time.
I personally find that opting for balanced meals and choosing meals with a variety of foods helps to keep me feeling full. When I say balanced meals, this is generally what I mean:
At each meal we want to aim for a combination of protein, grains and/or starches, as well as fruits and/or vegetables. The reason we want to include all of these is because they digest at different rates and work together to keep us feeling fuller for longer and each group brings different nutrients to the table. Now not all meals will look like this, and that's ok, we're not striving for perfection, but we want to keep these groups in the back of our minds as we work towards planning our meals.
Fruits and vegetables provide a wide variety of nutrients to our meals, particularly if we can choose a variety of different colours. The easiest way to eat more fruits and vegetables is to build the meal around these and make them the star of the plate. Meals like stir-fry or pasta can center around veggies with the grains and protein taking a back seat.
Protein-rich foods serve a variety of functions in our bodies, so at each meal we should aim to eat a source of protein. Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, beans, and legumes. Dairy products like milk and yogurt also contain protein and make up part of this group.
I personally love adding something sweet to my meals. This wouldn't necessarily fall into one of the food groups, nor would I replace one of the components of the meal with a sweet, I would simply add it alongside the meal. If you have been taught to view dessert as a conditional food (i.e. you can't have dessert unless you've earned it by either exercising or eating all of your main meal first) I would highly encourage you to try serving dessert with the meal rather than afterwards. Remember, food is neutral. We are not good or bad for eating a particular food in a particular order and we don't have to earn our food.
If you need some help with planning balanced meals that will keep you feeling full and satisfied, go ahead and grab my FREE guide to Intuitive Eating and Meal Planning below.
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