“Healthy Living” and Intuitive Eating: What’s it Really About?

FACT: Dietitians are human too!

Shortly after I posted a photo of my green kale smoothie not too long ago, I went home and snacked on these potato chips that happened to be in our pantry.

potato chips

After drinking something that was sweet and green and hydrating, my body was dying for a salty, crunchy and greasy snack. I sure got my fix!

This is an example of what I call “intuitive eating”.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because it occurred to me (while sitting on the couch, munching on these chips and simultaneously checking my Instagram account to see who “liked” the photo of my smoothie…) that by only posting the super nutrient-dense stuff that I eat MOST of the time, and not including other foods that I enjoy in moderation, I would be doing everyone a disservice: I wouldn’t be giving a full, accurate authentic depiction of me OR what it truly means to live a truly balanced lifestyle.

It made me think of the social media culture where we tend to only post the highlights, giving people a warped perception of what our lives are really like. 

In many ways, social media and diet culture reinforce perfectionist thinking and make us feel more inclined to compare ourselves to other people.  This stuff is small-minded and it does not serve our progression.

Healthy living and potato chips (or other foods that may apply to you) should not be mutually exclusive!

I’m not necessarily saying you need to eat potato chips in order to be healthy. Maybe potato chips aren’t your thing and that’s totally fine. And don’t get me wrong- I really do love my green smoothies, I love how I feel when I eat lots of veggies and vitamin/mineral-rich foods, and I enjoy them quite often. 🙂 

The key is to not get stuck in a black-and-white thinking trap where we are overly rigid and then we hit a wall which may lead to self-sabotage until we “start again on Monday” or “after the holidays”. THAT is how we lose momentum.

Healthy living is about finding #balance and #sustainability, NOT perfection. 

Black and white thinking is limited and does not serve us.

I tell my clients all the time: there’s no such thing as perfect eating!

Perfection is an illusion, and it’s also a relative term because we all have our own idea of what perfect “should” look like, based on programming through media or upbringing.  Holding ourselves to perfectionist standards ultimately sets us up to feel like a “failure” because those standards are either unattainable or impossible to sustain. 

As passionate as I may be about nutrient-dense foods and organic farming etc. etc., I haven’t let that stop me from dining at places that don’t always have these options.  I admit there have certainly been times in my life where I walked a fine line, but what it comes down to is that living life to the fullest is not about living in deprivation!

People often ask me how I would categorize my diet & nutritional “ways”, and my answer is that this stuff cannot be categorized, but…

  • I believe in natural living and the power of food.
  • I believe in balance and sustainability as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • I nourish my body according to what it needs/prefers, which changes frequently.
  • I guide my clients to do the same, based on clinical judgment combined with other methods of understanding each person as a whole and assessing where they are at individually.

As a reminder to you that one size does not fit all, AND to break some of the common stigmas I hear a lot in diet culture:

—-One of my clients completely reversed her Graves’ disease in just 8 months (no medication— just nutrition and herbs and acupuncture) while still eating dairy and grains the entire time.
—-One of my former clients reversed her Crohn’s disease using medical nutrition therapy and is now in complete remission while still eating gluten and sugar throughout her entire journey.
—-One of my former clients was type-2 diabetic and the only “food” we actually cut completely out of his routine was artificial sweeteners. Within that year of working together he was no longer considered diabetic by blood sugar or hemoglobin A1c standards.
(***Disclaimer: individual results vary depending on genetics, physiology, consistency, momentum and other factors.***)

Where am I going with all of this?

There are infinite types of foods, herbs and resources available to us either in the garden or pantry or local market or even just within us, that have potential to help us heal and nourish ourselves without deprivation OR unpleasant pharmaceutical side effects. (**Keep in mind: individual needs vary drastically, and too much of ANYTHING, even “a good thing” is never good.  Also, lots of herbs, functional foods and even some fruits and veggies do interact with pharmaceuticals, so I advise you to consult a professional before trying anything on your own!**)

Plant medicine

Healing is not black and white- it is an ongoing journey of progress, not perfection!

I cannot emphasize this enough:  We don’t just wake up one day and find that our “problems” have gone away and we can now live happily ever after.

It doesn’t mean once you achieve a goal destination you don’t have to do the work anymore. But it’s worth it once you see the tremendous progress you have made after you look back on where you started!

**2019 Update:  Click here to check out my upcoming Kitchen Alchemy Food Fundamentals E-Course (start date January 8, 2020) to go on your own journey through the food groups and build a strong nutritional foundation, at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home!***