There is so much conflicting information out there about which ‘diet’ is best. It seems each week there is a new one to choose from and a new label that comes with it. Are you “team vegan” or “team oco-lacto”? Sadly, it has become almost militant, being made to feel like you have to choose a side, defend it with your life, and even don the uniform (skinny jeans and fadoras for the vegans). Let me tell you, choosing the ‘right’ diet can be confusing as hell, not to mention the constant pressure of “doing it right” Until now…
Here at Nutrify For Life, we are all about establishing health by using real foods and ALWAYS letting our intuition lead the way. This is known as “intuitive eating” and I hope it is the new ‘diet’ of the future, that everyone can get behind – wouldn’t it be nice to have fewer labels and a little less separation in our world…? This way of eating isn’t always easy in the beginning because our less-than-healthy diets can lead us astray with cravings for things that cause more harm than good.
To de-bunk a myth, cravings are actually good, and once a healthy diet is established, they will be your inner guide for staying healthy. The problem is that when cravings arise while on a not-so-healthy diet, they will conjure up desires for things like potato chips, ice cream, or pizza. It’s not the craving that is bad, in fact, it is simply your body telling you that you might need more salt, more fat, or a nutrient you’re not getting enough of. So, the problem isn’t with the craving itself but the “food catalog” your brain is operating from. You see, over the years, your body has indeed received more salt when you ate a bag of Cheetos, and it did receive an essential fat when you ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s – the problem comes from the lack of quality in this food, plus ALL the other things those foods come with (chemicals, colorings, calories, the list goes on). Unfortunately, with minimal routine exposure to wholesome foods, your body doesn’t yet know that it can get what it needs through REAL foods. It is likely that it just doesn’t have that memory bank yet. So, even if your food rolodex still consists of mostly processed foods, as you fill it with all those other health-sustaining resources, your body will automatically choose the thing that serves it best – which are nutrient-dense foods.
I have a lot of personal experience with this. I grew up in the era of convenience food, if it didn’t come in a wrapper or box, I didn’t know what to do with it. I remember in the school cafeteria, when I was a kid, I actually felt sorry for the kids who had fresh cut carrots or an apple in their lunch (and actually ate it!). I mean, really, to think someone would deny their child a bag of Doritos, a sandwich consisting of fak-o luncheon meat with pre-formed ‘cheeze’ on Roman Meal bread – child abuse! Luckily, just a few decades later, the cafeteria tables have turned and people are steering their children back towards real food once again – way to go mankind! (high-five) Let’s keep up the good work.
It has taken me many years, and lots of serious health problems, to understand the very real connection between the foods we eat and our health. I have also had to re-wire my brain and expand my mental rolodex for those times when cravings give me a nudge. One of the most rewarding aspects of “intuitive eating” is that eating is now pure pleasure and completely stress free, no guilt and no remorse. There is no feeling of deprivation, quite the opposite really, and no worries about “burning it off” later. It is a freedom I never knew existed with food.
I have a feeling I wasn’t alone in that cafeteria during the 80’s, when real food was sparse and junk-food reigned supreme. We come from an entire generation of non-food eaters and now we have to re-learn not only how to eat, but how to nourish ourselves, possibly for the first time in our lives.
So, keep working on building that rolodex of healthy foods. By plumping up your body’s nutrient memory bank, you will slowly weed out the less-desirable junk-food and replace it with complete nourishment.