This is not the time for more rules, but rather a time to be gentle and tend to yourself.
You may have noticed a gentler approach to eating and nutrition lately. We’ve covered why we reach for certain sugary/starchy foods when we are stressed or eating with our heads or hearts. And have also covered why that happens as a physiological response to the hormone levels in our bodies and how they communicate with the rest of our reactions. You may have dove into a more intuitive approach to eating during this time – to become more aware of what we want and that it is okay to have it. Or maybe you’ve completely shifted your habits throughout this past month working from home, cooking and substituting as much as possible, and sharing meals at home. And what you are eating these days is likely not normal for you right now at all. But nothing about this is normal, is it?
Now we are going to explore a few key points to Gentle Nutrition and the practice of balancing honoring our desire to eat certain foods right now and honor our desire to prioritize health. It’s eating with a health focus, but gently. Recognizing that maybe there isn’t a fresh vegetable on every plate, but there is a plant food period and that’s what matters. Maybe it’s pantry stable baked apple chips or canned green beans instead of fresh, but it’s something.
Recognize that your food relationship is impacted by many factors right now.
•The fluctuation between VERY full food stock (to last weeks and avoid grocery shopping often) to gradual empty pantry and feelings of inaccessibility.
•Proximity to food at this time (work station at kitchen table/home all hours of the day)
•Baking as an activity which can lead to higher than normal access to sugary foods.
•Less time for mindful meals (between working from home, activities with kids) may lead to standing and eating, too long of breaks between eating periods and potential to be very hungry.
•Too much time on hands may lead to eating as “something to do”.
Understand your body’s personal hunger cues
•Are you eating with your head, your heart or your stomach?
• What are your body’s hunger signals?
• What are your emotional hunger triggers?
When we feel like eating because we are anxious, bored, or depressed say to yourself “It’s all right to eat. But first, I will find out what I am feeling.”
Eat regularly and eat enough
•Meal Planning from a place of self-care with a loosely structured meal plan of knowing you want to have a meatless day, a heart healthy fish day, mostly plants on the plate. Because you deserve to be taken care of. In a similar way we plan for our children to eat, we too must have a loose structure.
•Eating regularly can maintain a sense of normalcy.
•Maintains blood sugars to avoid spikes and pantry raids.
•Eating less than we need right now could place more stress on our bodies.
Connect more deeply with your food and your feelings of gratitude
•Consider the people involved in the meal from beginning to end – the delivery people, the grocery store employees, the foodservice workers and those who have lost jobs.
•Consider the why it is on your plate because you were able to purchase food, you took the energy and love to prep the food.
•Consider the ingredients on your plate and how it makes you feel – choosing foods that make you feel energized and happy.
This is just a start on the path to gentle nutrition, but first step in considering all aspects of food and how we can make choices that satisfy our emotional and physical hunger right now. Give yourself a break, there is enough going on right now to overwhelm us that we do not need to add stress about perfect food into the mix.
“Negative thoughts about yourself and your body are way more unhealthy than anything you can eat and any amount of not exercising.” – Kelsey Wells