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Progress > Perfection - Intuitive Eating For Busy Parents

Eating well doesn’t mean strictly adhering to the latest nutrition trends.

I know it’s easy to type a few questions into Google, hoping for answers, but then you’re inevitably bombarded with dietary suggestions, passionate opinions and a few scientific studies that are difficult to decipher.

Believe it or not, your bodily intuition knows a whole lot more about you than Google does!

This brings me to the topic of today’s post, which is the first of a multi-part series on intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating is all about leaning in to a sixth sense of sorts that allows us to establish a relationship with food that is functional & balanced but also satisfying.

Today I will be touching on a specific principle of intuitive eating (there are many of them!) that has been most profound for my wellness journey as a busy parent: letting go of perfection.

Intuitive eating is about progress, not perfection.

As a natural born perfectionist, this was an idea that I really struggled with well before I even knew much about intuitive eating.

As a new mama, if I didn’t have the time or energy to make a “good” lunch, I wouldn’t eat…and then I’d be much more likely to eat large amounts of stuff that didn’t really leave me feeling my best – you know that anxious, tired and ultimately frustrated feeling.

This downward spiral would continue when I’d reach for coffee, hoping for some quick relief.

I wasn’t able to identify these trends in my behaviour before I started studying nutrition, which was ultimately what helped me to connect the dots.

With my new-found dietary knowledge I challenged my perfectionism with a five-step process rooted in intuitive eating:

Step 1 – Honouring Hunger Cues

Nourishing your body is a form of self-respect and self-care.

If you crave something make sure to listen, take notes and learn what is most satisfying in those moments (hint: there is no right answer).

When you start to feel a slight hint of hunger, try to slow down and think about what your body needs.

Remove distractions and focus on that feeling and how you can effectively satisfy it. This can take time, detective work & experimentation, but simply appreciating your signals and taking a moment to listen is a healthy first step.

Step 2 – Passing on Foods That Aren’t Satisfying

Even if they’re trendy, green and/or backed by science some foods may not be for you.

Nourishment is an experience that’s meant to be enjoyed, especially if you have the luxury to do so.

Forcing yourself to eat something simply because it’s healthy will not put you on the right track, it will, in fact, push you further from meeting your needs.

Step 3 – Developing a Flexible, Personalized Plan

Ditch the labels and create a “diet” that suits your own needs even if it doesn’t make sense to others. I am largely dairy-free but make regular exceptions for yoghurt & cheeses if I feel so inclined.

At the beginning of this journey I kept asking myself “am I dairy-free or not?” as if I had to pick a side. It felt like if I was going to make a change, I had to make a concrete, irreversible decision.

Now I know this decision-making is not so black & white and I am free to decide how & what to eat every day.

Step 4 – Looking at Balance as a Bonus, NOT a Necessity

This one has been a HUGE learning for me.

You absolutely do not have to create the “perfect” plate 3x a day in order to be healthy.

There is room for all kinds of foods in your diet, including the most indulgent or convenient options. This notion of balance is one that should bring you great satisfaction, not added pressure.

Step 5 – Finding Other Outlets for Stress Management

This is so you’re not leaning on food for comfort during hard times.

Through proper stress management (exercise, relaxation, hobbies, etc.), you can transform your relationship with food. You can indulge in dessert (or salty snacks in my case) without guilt because it’s truly what you WANT and not an act of desperation.

Intuitive Eating – More To Come!

I love this topic as it applies to family nutrition so I will continue to post about it in the future. Part Two (for kids!) can be found here.

If there is any notion of intuitive eating that you are particularly curious about, please send me an email – I’d love to hear from you!

Ciara Morin, R.H.N.



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