ABOVE ALL ELSE, your diet should be FLEXIBLE
It allows the eater to eat "normally", attending to the body's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, in every moment. The reason flexibility is so important is because those needs are ever changing. When we are tied to a very strict diet (and we attach our entire morality/persona/character/future hopes) to that diet, we DISCONNECT from ourselves. We quiet biofeedback - the messaging our body is continually giving us, and we opt instead to feed our bodies what we believe it needs.
Sometimes that works.
But most often, long term, it's recipe for disaster. Strict diets are hard to adhere to (and the benefits you gain from them initially often stop/plateau) for several reasons.
Here are the Five Key Factors Influencing Your Dietary Needs:
Adapted from Marc David's Book, Nourishing Wisdom
- how you live, the job you work, the way you spend your days
- activity level, stress and engagement/happiness levels are always changing
- i.e. working night shifts, being in a job that demands long hours, being a stay at home parent, or a student, being a fitness instructor, or in a job you love/hate
- Each of these lifestyles will require different caloric and nutrient needs
- this refers to your geographic location and the fact that we tend to crave foods local to the areas where we live
- People crave very different foods in Nunavut vs. Southern California vs India vs Chile
- "Eating food unique to a given environment joins us to that environment" - Marc David
- If you move, it would be normal for your food cravings/wants to also shift
- I think this fairly obvious in a place like Canada. As the weather shifts from summer to fall we begin to crave different foods...in the summer we want ALL the watery fruits and vegetables and then come fall, we want ALL the pumpkin spiced lattes. JK. But seriously, you don't often crave a squash soup in the middle of summer, do you? Your nutritional needs naturally shift with the weather.
- Extreme weather not only affects our food cravings, but also our metabolism. Intense heat tends to slow the metabolism, which is why our appetite tends to wane in the summer. Conversely, we require more food in the winter as we work hard to keep our bodies warm.
- It is well understood the very young and the elderly have special nutritional requirements. We have lots of medical/nutritional science to tell us how the metabolic needs of babies, toddles, children, teens and the elderly differ.
- It is less well understood how the nutritional needs of a 20 year old varies from that of a 30, 40, or 50 year old. This is an important time to focus on the body's internal messaging system. Just because we don't have the science to tell us how our needs change in this phase doesn't mean that your needs don't/won't change. You need to be your own expert here.
- Obvious health issues affect nutritional needs: think colds, flus, fever. We change the way we eat in these cases, right? Same goes for more serious illnesses like diabetes, gout, digestive issues, arthritis, etc. In these cases special/therapeutic diets are often used to manage the illness or heal the body.
- Health and nutritional needs also change through pregnancy, lactation, and menstruation.
Can you see how these 5+ factors are forever interacting, changing the body's nutritional needs?
Is there any way you can still believe in one perfect, never-changing way to eat?
The amazing thing is that Intuitive Eating takes all the guess work out of this. You don't need to think too hard about your where your needs might be, or read book after book after book, because your body is the expert. All you have to do is be ready and willing to listen.
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