If you’re interested in and learning about intuitive eating you’ve probably heard the term “gentle nutrition”, right? But…what the HECK does that mean? In this post I’ll break down what it is, why you need it, and how to get started with it!
What Is Gentle Nutrition?
Gentle nutrition is one of the 10 principles of intuitive eating. It’s all about making food choices that also honor your health and wellbeing, in addition to your cravings and desires. Becoming “unhealthy” is a very common fear when starting to let go of your food rules. It’s so common to think you’ll just be eating donuts and cupcakes all day long, forever! But, that’s not the case.
Gentle nutrition is all about making that mind body connection of what feels good, what is satisfying, and what will be good for your health. It’s essentially nutrition without obsession. Fabulous, right?! It’s picking a taco salad if that’s what makes your body feel good, but being okay if all that is offered is a big ol’ fluffy tortilla. It’s being flexible enough to honor that donut craving without feeling guilty. It’s getting the box of Girl Scout cookies, having some, and saying “eating the entire bod would taste delish but not make me feel good. I’m done.”
How To Start Gentle Nutrition
Inside of my membership, The SociEATy, I guide girlfriends through 5 stages towards finding food freedom. The stage of incorporating gentle nutrition? Next to last! This is because first we need to really show our body that it CAN have all foods and not cloud it’s judgement with food rules. First, ya gotta get rid of those foods rules, work on body image, then bring that gentle nutrition piece into play.
If you’ve broken the rules and have learned body acceptance and to love it, then you might be ready for gentle nutrition. To start gentle nutrition here is an easy thing to ask yourself “What makes my body feel best and I enjoy?” And it’s important not to think “What is a “GOOD” choice per diet culture standards” but to actually legit think what feels good to you!
Do you feel better and satisfied longer when you have protein at a meal? Do that. Does skipping a carbohydrate at dinner make you run for the freezer later to grab Ben & Jerry? Have a carb at dinner and see what happens to that craving.
You have to get a little curious and experiment when first starting gentle nutrition. It’s okay to “fail”, too! That’s how we learn! Maybe you say “I thiiiiink this would feel good”, but it doesn’t.. No need to beat yourself up. That’s a new nugget of wisdom you didn’t have before, now you do!
Examples Of Gentle Nutrition
Okay, here are a few examples of gentle nutrition that I use in my daily life:
- Making a batch of blueberry protein muffins to have on hand for mornings when I need something quick, VS making regular muffins. I know the protein helps to keep me full and satisfied longer.
- Using some real fruit jam (like this no sugar added blueberry jam recipe) because I learned that one time I was on a PB & J kick I didn’t really enjoy the overpowering sweetness of regular jam and it made me feel kinda sluggish.
- Grabbing a load of whole wheat bread because it’s got some extra fiber that keeps me full and, well, keeps my bowels moving!
- Having some water throughout the day because I know that even thought I don’t WANT to drink water I feel horrid when I’m dehydrated, so I do.
Gentle nutrition is also about being flexible. I always say it’s okay to have a preference for that “healthy” item, say whole wheat bread. BUT… you should NOT get anxiety if the only option is, say, white bread.
True life story I was making a recipe for french toast and KNEW Texas Toast style bread would work WAY better. So? I freaking got it. Yes, I’m usually a whole wheat kinda gal because, well, gentle nutrition, BUT who cares? Grab the freaking Texas toast without another thought. And that’s what I did.
How To Continue Practicing It
Gentle nutrition is not a destination. It’s something that is ever evolving for each and every one of us. And, honestly? Also as research regarding nutrition is evolving! It’s important to stay curious and continually asking yourself the WHY behind you food choices. I have a good post that talks about eating the same thing every day, or food jags, that talks about this topic as well.
Our bodies change over time, our nutrition needs change over time, our preferences change over time, what FEELS good changes over time. Be flexible. Stay curious. Keep experimenting.
I hope this post was helpful and gave you some insight into gentle nutrition. Let me know in the comments if it was and be sure to let me know if there are any other topics you want me to cover on the blog or over on my YouTube channel!
Happy food rule breaking,
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