In this day and age, it’s pretty difficult to know how best to feed your body. There are so many conflicting reports and opinions surrounding various regimes and their benefits. The information available helps broaden our knowledge base, but can also be so overwhelming! What if we tuned in to what our bodies have to say? There are some points we sometimes forget when considering nutrition, such as:
- Our exoticism! – That’s right! Each one of us a unique genetic code that gifts us our very own, characteristically distinct bodies. Unfortunately, influences in the media tell us we should have goals of attaining body types that are genetically unrealistic for most people. Let’s work with our bodies as opposed to against them!
- Day to day – The truth is, the body isn’t designed to follow one diet plan forever- in fact, it has different nutritional needs almost every time you sit down for a meal. These can depend on different factors affecting you throughout the day- levels of physical activity, your mood, how much you have in your ‘sleep bank’- all of which can have extreme variations to us students!
It all boils down to this- there’s only one person who knows what your body truly needs, and conveniently, that’s you! So don’t worry if your budget doesn’t allow for a special nutritionist. You’ve got all the answers you need (unless, of course, there is a condition or personal goal that you need extra assistance with- this post refers to general nutrition).
Our bodies signal their nutritional needs, but it seems that we’ve forgotten how to interpret them. Intuitive eating, a term coined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, requires that you tune in to your foodie instincts. It is defined as “an evidenced-based, mind-body health approach”, and its underlying principle is simple: LISTEN to your body!
But wait, don’t go buying out the whole chocolate isle just ‘cuz your body really, really likes the idea of Nutella and Maltesers for dinner. Intuitive eating requires you make the distinction between needs and cravings, and this can take some getting used to. Here are some guidelines to help you out!
- The only goal is to feel your best! It’s important to remember weight loss or weight gain is not the name of the game here. Instead, you’re given the power to decide what’s best for a happy, healthy you! Keeping this in mind will help you tune into mental and physical indicators of your body’s nutritional requirements.
- Be kind to yourself. No judgement allowed! No bad, old habits that are often attached with new foodie approaches. No repercussions like skipping a meal or running more laps than you truly feel to. As Tribole says, there is no right and wrong to intuitive eating. Your food choices should feel as natural and uncomplicated as possible.
- Understand what’s a craving and what’s not. If a choice didn’t feel quite right, make a mental note for next time. You can also get in the habit of asking yourself some questions. “How do I feel after eating that?” & “What was my true intent for this snack/meal?” Emotional comfort? On-the-go decision? Not sure? Cool. Keep up the awareness!
Breakfast fruit bowl- needing a refreshing and brain-boosting start.
If you have no clue where to start in terms of understanding your nutritional needs, either flip through our nutrient posters to form a little knowledge-base, or view the tips below. I spoke with Eimear Sutton, a Food Science and Nutrition 3rd year student at the University of Leeds, who gave me some small foodie suggestions according to some common feelings (or indicators!).
Are you feeling…
- Muscle weakness – nuts (source of healthy fats and protein), peas and beans (more protein)
- General weakness- vitamin B12 (often missed by vegans and vegetarians, and can be sourced via supplements or probiotic drinks) and green veggies (high in iron)
- Mentally tired – avocado (vitamin E and unsaturated fats to boost energy)
- Sleep deprived – oats for breakfast (Full of long-lasting energy to fuel you)
- Moody – dark chocolate (releases several neurotransmitters that have positive effects on human emotions – chocs contain tryptophan which stimulate the release of serotonin in the brain)
- Hyper – too much sugar has probably been eaten. Your next meal should be a little more balanced, comprising protein, good fats, complex carbs and lots of vegetables.
This should help you in your daily food choices, and empower you to become your own intuitive health coach. It’s hard to juggle health amoungst deadline dates and lectures. Let’s make food the easy bit!
The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available to the authors, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries. Worth my Earth acknowledges occasional differences in opinion and welcomes the exchange of different viewpoints. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.