With Spring in full swing, I have witnessed an intense shift in the foods that my body wants to be nourished with. I'm not surprised as different seasons lend themselves to different seasonal foods. But this year is different. After following the Autoimmune Protocol for one year this May, I have become deeply in touch with the needs of my own body. I've been tuning in and receiving its messages intuitively. For me, developing a deeper connection with my body through a healing diet has been a true gift. Today, I'm talking about how to eat intuitively...
For the past couple of weeks I have been having a hard time eating dense foods like pork and beef. I find myself craving vegetables doused with citrus juice and fresh herbs, light salads, fish, and steamed vegetables. I am taking this as a serious message—not to be ignored. When you become more in tune with your own body, you will realize that it sends you messages about what it wants and needs all the time. As the seasons change, so do our metabolisms and our nutritional needs. That is why I have been shifting my focus from dogmatically following the autoimmune protocol to a more intuitive way of eating.
What is intuitive eating? In the fewest words, intuitive eating is tuning in and listening to what your body wants to eat and then eating just that. In order to be able to eat intuitively, you must be in tune with your own body. I don't believe you can be in tune with your body if you are following a standard american diet (SAD) filled with highly processed foods and sugars—these kinds of foods block your ability to feel the difference between what you body wants from a nutritional standpoint versus what your body is addicted to. Over the course of one year following the AIP diet, I have become hyper aware of the wants and needs of my own body. The AIP diet has been an essential way for me to learn about my personal food intolerances and what makes my body feel its best. Now that I have developed a deep relationship with my body and inner voice, I feel confident in trusting my intuition and the messages that it is sending me.
The First Step—Setting Up Boundaries: The first step in applying intuitive eating to your diet is figuring out your own dietary boundaries. Of course with autoimmune disease, there are some things that I have to flat-out avoid as to not set off a flare. For me, that means continuing to eat a diet that aligns with the principles of the paleo diet; I avoid gluten/grains/dairy/corn/soy/refined sugar. Next, I will continue to avoid foods that I have a known intolerance to from my IgG test and the elimination phase of the autoimmune protocol. This includes things like banana, sesame seeds, almonds, and tomatoes. With no surprise, I find that my body doesn't crave the foods that I am intolerant to.
The Second Step—Tuning In: Once you have established your own personal dietary guidelines, which will vary from person to person, the next step is to tune into your own body to see what your body is asking for. As mentioned, I follow an evolved version of the autoimmune protocol. The AIP diet suggests that you eat three meals a day consisting of animal protein, healthy fats, and grain-free/gluten-free carbohydrates (sourced from fruits or vegetables.) I love the AIP diet and I have found tremendous healing from it. However, since the beginning of Spring, I haven’t felt like eating as much meat as I normally do or as much as the AIP suggests. I cannot stomach it and trying to force myself to eat something that my body is clearly telling me it doesn’t want doesn’t feel right to me. intuitive eating is tuning in and listening to the messages your body is sending you. The second and equally crucial part is using the information that it gives you—not just taking note but taking action. Forcing something is never a good idea and if your body sends you a message, it is best not to ignore it. I think of messages from my own body as sacred messges—they are wise advice from my inner doctor.
The Third Step—Application: Apply those messages, baby. Here is an example of what this looks like for me. I have recently received messages from my body to go light on animal protein. Instead of eating meat at each of my meals as I normally do, I have opted for bone broth soup in the morning, a small light fish with my lunch in the afternoon, and a light plant-based meal with a bit of poultry for dinner. This is what intuitive eating looks like for me. And guess what—it is no surprise to me that I am feeling better and more energized doing this. I really believe in the wisdom of our bodies. I don’t believe in being dogmatic with diet but rather letting your diet evolve as it may according to the needs and wants of your own body. I do think it is important to follow an elimination diet for a period of time as a way to be able to connect with your body and learn its sensitivities and limitations. After one year following the AIP diet and witnessing tremendous healing, I have found that I have a deeper, more empathetic relationship with my body and am able to listen to what it wants. I hope this inspires you to develop a relationship with your body where you are able to receive messages that give you insight into how best you may heal.