Children seem to have it all figured out. The key is they don’t try to figure it out. They don’t over think everything and are just happy to be. To be happier adults and progress in our health, we need to revert back to our innocent childlike ways. Fewer worries, less stress, and fewer rules.
One thing I have been reading a lot about lately is intuitive eating. It started by seeing those words on several blogs and I became interested in the concept. I like it. This is one area where children can be an inspiration. Eat like a child. A child will eat when hungry, eat until full, and then stop. They don’t think about the calories they are eating or whether or not they are “allowed” the food, or when they will be able to have it again. They just know what their body is telling them and follow those cues. Simple really.
I remember a time when I didn’t think about eating. I just ate. I ate healthy because that’s what I liked and what made me feel good but I didn’t think twice about a piece of cake at a birthday party or even having a PB&J sandwich. I still ate that way well into my twenties. Then something changed.
I don’t talk about it much on the blog, but I have fallen into the same food traps as many people. Though I have never actually been overweight, at some point I became obsessed with calories and “healthy” foods.
Before my wedding two years ago I dropped enough weight that those I love were beginning to get worried. I was engaged in August and married in April and spent that 8 months counting calories and making lists in my head of foods I couldn’t have (like peanut butter and bread) I chalked it up at the time to typical bride syndrome. You know, wanting to look your absolute best on your wedding day. What it did, though, was begin a cycle of food obsession, strict restriction, and calorie deficits leading to over-eating and feelings of guilt.
Those days are mostly gone, but the thoughts are still there. If I get really hungry before I eat, I tend to go overboard when I do eat and not make healthy choices. If I listen to my body and eat when I need to no matter if it’s not time to eat, I never get ravenous and make better choices. If I don’t have any off-limits foods, I don’t feel deprived. If I don’t calorie count, I don’t stress about what I’m eating and instead enjoy each bite stopping when I’m full. I don’t get that “I have to eat every bite even if I’m stuffed since I won’t be allowed to have it again for a while” feeling.
I really see that there is something to this intuitive eating. Why do we have rules for food? Food is a necessity of life. When did it become the enemy? We don’t have rules around breathing or drinking water. Why should food be any different? I think there is still something to moderation and not eating fast food and cookies for every meal, but if you listen to your body, it will crave the veggies, fruits, and nutrients it needs and make healthy eating natural and not forced.
I thought about all of this when I read my very good friend/one of my biggest support systems Kelly’s blog yesterday where she asked what you would do-over if you had the chance. I would redo that period prior to my wedding. I feel like I have finally come out on the other side and am not looking back with regret necessarily. It ignited an interest in nutrition and cooking. It has allowed me the opportunity to get more in tune with my body and what it needs. I am still conscious of what I put in my body and see an importance in eating whole, nutrient-rich foods, but I now have found a happy medium.