Fall In Love With Eating… Again

I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with food over my lifetime of almost 50 years. I’ve been all over the place with my eating: from dipping pizza in blue cheese at 2:00am with my sorority sisters and chasing it the next morning with a Big Gulp of Coke and bagel with cream cheese to removing all gluten, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, nightshades, processed sugar, non-organic, GMO, etc. etc. etc.

I went from eating with wild abandonment with a focus on fun to the exact opposite, eating with restriction, stress, fear and self-judgment (and with a little martyrdom thrown in for when I felt like I was “doing great.”)

Yet now, after working for years in holistic nutrition, dynamic eating psychology and body image, I’ve learned that my relationship to food and eating is one of the single most important relationships to nurture because it’s one I will have for a lifetime, and it will impact me every, single, day.

Because I am writing this post on Valentine’s Day, I want to gift you my 9 Tips to Fall in Love 💗 with Eating because eating is meant to be a pleasurable experience, not one filled with “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.” These tips are meant to help you honor your whole health, mentally, physically and emotionally.

How I Learned to Fall in Love with Eating (again)…

  1. I explore how different foods made me feel.

    Yes, you do need to learn to listen to your unique body. This one can be difficult for so many of us who are unconscious distracted eaters because we just don’t notice. For example, avocados might make you feel amaaaazing and for others, not so much. Just because avocados are considered a “health” food doesn’t mean your body loves them. I know you are disappointed that maybe those pretty little avocado toasts aren’t the best for you.

    How about dairy? Some of us do great with dairy, while for others, it makes other bodies constipated. And, if you are a junk food junkie, this is for you too, how do the foods you choose make you feel? Maybe awesome in the moment, but afterward?

  2. I don’t have strict rules about ANY food.

    Yes, I mean it, anything. Yes, even the foods that don’t make you feel good (except of course if you have a diagnosed food allergy). And yes, that goes for the fake colored, Gods know what number dye peanut butter crackers that I used to avoid purely because they were processed. I would have rather starved than eaten those delicious orange crackers. But no more, because my body was like “what the hell – I am hungry dang it, a package of processed crackers isn’t going to kill me, so get over your neurotic nutritionist nonsense.”

    This is the most important tip of all and the one that has allowed me to return to normal eating that yes indeed does honor my health (so don’t worry). It’s critical because restriction is the number one reason we crave. Restriction actually intensifies cravings for your forbidden or “bad” foods.

    Ok, so this one might make you freak out and feel like abandoning reading the rest of this email because there’s just no way you can eat without a set of rules.

    Relax. I promise you if you immerse yourself in the process of falling in love with eating again, you will be rewarded with a happy and healthy relationship with food. So no, you won’t just sit on the couch, day after day, eating bag after bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (do they even make those anymore)?

  3. I no longer make moral judgments about food (and place them on myself, the person making the choices).


  4. So this comic may seem ridiculous, but that’s the point. Diet talk is ridiculous. When you don’t eat “clean,” you are not “dirty”. You are not a bad person for eating cake. Look how ridiculous we’ve become by making certain foods morally better than others. Detach morality from food. Period.
  5. I learned to honor my hunger instead of going by food rules that tell me when I should or should not be eating.

    Somedays I am simply hungrier than others. Why? A multitude of reasons. Some days I sit at my desk for hours and don’t get a lot of movement in, and perhaps I simply want something light to eat. And the next day? Well I got up early and did a yoga class, went for a hike, and, um, yes, I ate more because I was hungrier.

    I no longer fear hunger and now my body freakin’ trusts me to feed it when it’s hungry.

    We don’t need to fear hunger anymore. If we just learn to honor it, and our body’s human need for food when it needs it, we can honor our whole health. Honor and trust.

    Which leads me to another super important tip…

  6. I honor my fullness.

    I had to practice this one because I came from a clean your plate family. I was also the youngest of three siblings and every meal time felt like a fastest eating contest to get the leftovers. I had this fear of not getting enough. I lost my fullness meter at a very young age. How did I learn to honor my fullness? Well I just noticed when I no longer felt hungry anymore. Did you get that? I wasn’t asking myself if I felt full but instead I asked myself if I was no longer hungry. Big difference. It’s been a fascinating experiment and one in which I noticed that I was consistently eating just to eat or because it tasted good (which incidentally naturally wears off as we eat).

  7. I understand the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.

    And that being said, I haven’t made eating for emotional reasons bad, because it’s not. We all do it. Humans were designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We were born, held, fed and loved; thus we naturally equate food with feeling good. I just notice if I start to seek certain foods habitually and then I ask myself, what am I actually hungering for? The food is often just a substitute for something that I am seeking to fill up with or numb out from. So I dig deeper.

  8. I value pleasure in my eating but also prioritize it in my whole life.

    I’ve stopped putting so much pressure on my food to make me feel the way I desire and instead I put it back where it belongs, on me. I am responsible for my own happiness. Not my spouse. Not my family. Not my friends. Thus I am the only one that can get in my body (known as embodiment) and know what it wants physically, mentally and emotionally, and I then I nourish those aspects of my life.

    That being said, eating is meant to be pleasurable. We must find satisfaction in our food choices or we will continue to seek it, and often continue to eat until we receive it or feel too stuffed to continue. And of course, eating healthy foods can be pleasurable. Make yourself a list right now of all the foods that you love and enjoy that you consider healthy.

  9. I make eating part of my self-care, self-nourishment.

    Instead of rushing around, ignoring my hunger, and then feeling like I want to eat my arm, which then leads me to grab whatever sounds good which is usually something carby or sugary because they boost my blood sugar levels quickly but then burn quickly. This leads me to want more and more food to satiate the hunger that I had been ignoring, which I then eat quickly and mindlessly.

    This was the old scenario. Feeding myself is no longer something to get over with or mindlessly do while I watch my favorite Netflix show and surf on my Iphone. If I tell myself I don’t have time, I remind myself this is bullsh*t and that if I don’t have time, to figure it out. And if that means reaching out for help on how to create space in my life, I do it. Because…

    We are worthy of receiving nourishment from our meals, not just nutrients or fuel. We must learn that what we eat is only part of good nutrition, so whether we are eating kale or cake, let’s take a few extra minutes to breath, sit down and enjoy it. We’re not machines, we are human beings.

  10. I practice gentle nutrition.

    I put together all of the above and I honor my whole health.

    What’s gentle nutrition? Making food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Gentle nutrition allows us to relax and make peace with nutrition and food and achieve authentic health.

    Remember healthy eating is having a healthy balance of foods while having a heathy relationship with food.

    So I am not telling you this is easy, because it’s not. But nothing worthwhile ever comes from pushing the easy button. Just think how worth it it is to nourish your relationships with people. Food and eating is no different.

Would you like to fall in love with food and eating all over again?

You can. Remember that you actually do know how to care for your own body and you can trust yourself with food. Most of us have just forgotten how due to all the outside noise from the $70 billion dollar “diet” and “wellness” industry and the zillion different nutrition philosophies that tend to confuse the heck out of us. You can regain this personal autonomy over your food preferences.The key to making this happen is that you actually have to prioritize exploring this one very important relationship…with food and eating.

What’s your relationship with food right now? What has it been like in the past? And most importantly, what would you like your relationship to food to feel like for the rest of your life and why?

Eating isn’t supposed to be that difficult or a struggle.

  • Charles Eisenstein, author, The Yoga of Eating

Have a comment, question? I would love to hear from you!

Intuitive Eating: do you need to re-learn how to eat?

When we were born, we instinctively knew how to eat. But as we move through life, we are impacted by the messages from the world around us. We’re taught over and over again about what to eat. And the “what” we should eat shifts year after year.

These lessons come from family members (more often than not with good intentions), the latest clean eating book, social media and more. And that finger wagging at us telling us we shouldn’t eat this or that, comes from our own thoughts and self-judgement about food and our bodies that we’ve learned from living in diet culture.

Intuitive Eating

Most of us need to relearn how to eat. Learning how to eat again through a self-care framework called Intuitive Eating (IE) developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. IE teaches us to let good of food rules, to develop body trust and finally have the healthy relationship with food and our bodies that we desire.

Tapping into intuitive eating practices can help us with perceived eating challenges such as:

  • over-eating, believing we need portion control
  • mindless eating, “emotional” eating, eating when not physically hungry
  • craving, sneaking or “bingeing” on “bad” or “forbidden” foods

These perceived eating challenges are often symptoms of disconnected eating and diet culture restrictions. So many of us struggle with them. I did. And that’s what led me to study and support clients through the process of Intuitive Eating.

So, what is Intuitive Eating?

First things first, Intuitive Eating isn’t another goal to accomplish. There is no success or failure. It’s a lifelong journey of reconnecting with yourself and nourishing yourself. For many of us, it’s a relearning.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating include:

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

If we don’t “diet” then what should we do? There is no “quick fix” for our underlying challenges with food. Every year there is the latest greatest eating plan. Yes, you might have “success” with one or more, but how long does it last? And at what cost – as “diets” are called the “life thief” by Christy Harrison, author, Anti-Diet.

Our challenges with food are often symptoms asking us to look deeper. And the messages will get louder and louder (over the years) until we finally listen and do the deeper work.

I can hear you now…“but I HAVE to control my eating so I must be on an eating plan or diet.” While the focus of Intuitive Eating isn’t on weight loss, it’s absolutely about honoring your whole health – physically, mentally and emotionally.

The focus of IE is on our relationship with food and body and the rewards are great.

So, what’s driving our unwanted behaviors with food? This is the bigger question. This is the question we should be asking and addressing. After the diet or eating plan is over, we are still left with our unique selves and our unique relationship with food. Some of us have been on and off eating plans for most of our lives that we don’t know how to eat without a set of rules to follow. So let’s learn to eat again. It’s a practice.

Honor Your Hunger

Your body knows when it needs food, and it will tell you so. In fact, if you’re depriving your body of certain macronutrients and/or overall calories, it will eventually drive you to “overeat” which is really just primal hunger. This drive may even feel like a “binge” when in fact it may be purely a physical need for, well, more food that you’re feeding your body.

Everyone is unique, but for some, it may be helpful to have a regular eating rhythm or feed yourself when feeling gentle hunger so that you don’t get to the breaking point of “OMG I’m so hungry I’m going to eat everything in sight.” In order to do so, we must connect with gentle hunger, by listening for our unique internal physical body cues, interoceptive awareness, which is foundational to the practice of Intuitive Eating.

Peace ☮️ Out

Make peace with food. It’s not out to get you. You may have fear of food making you “fat” or certain foods will “kill” you. But they key to developing a healthy relationship with food is to give yourself unconditional permission to eat.

WHATTTT!!!! I know this concept sounds scary but if you constantly tell yourself you can’t or shouldn’t eat certain foods, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that can lead to uncontrollable cravings and “binge” eating, which then can lead to guilt.

Intuitive eating has a strategy called habituation that is designed to help you make peace with your list of “forbidden” or “bad” foods. This practice has created powerful shifts in the eating mindset for many of my clients (and no, you won’t want to eat oreos all day, every day).

Challenge your inner Food Police

Are you “good” (follow the rules) or “bad” (breaking the rules)? Do you identify with being “bad” for eating too many cookies, or “good” for eating a salad when you really hunger for a sandwich? The Food Police have rules that have been drilled into our brains for years. Intuitive Eating works to break down the power they hold over you.

This doesn’t mean that you throw caution to the wind and let your inner rebel eat whatever you want. Instead it’s about not having to live by outside rules and having to control yourself all the time. Let’s soften. There’s a middle ground that’s more easeful.

Listen for Fullness Clues

Your body will tell you when it’s satiated. You just need to listen. Bringing awareness to the plate is essential to feel satiety. Mindless, distracted, fast eating, which is so common these days, mutes the signal for satiety. See food and the eating experience as nourishment for not just your body, but your mind and soul (not just as fuel).

Embrace Satisfaction

In our desire to fit culture’s ideals, we may stray from one important nutritional element – pleasure. Enjoyment needs to be a part of the eating process in order to feel satisfied.

The next time you eat, notice, are you satisfied with what you’re eating? I remember distinctly when I was a teenager trying to “be good” by eating fat free food after fat free food and overall eating a lot because I never received any satisfaction from my list of “good” foods. Why? Because my desire for smaller thighs spoke louder than receiving satisfaction from my food. At first. Eventually, I dove into the Alfredo pasta.

Now I eat foods that satisfy me without deprivation and it’s just no big deal (and no longer the “forbidden, guilt-ridden” pasta.

Honor Your Feelings With Kindness

We’re all emotional eaters. It’s useful to find ways to comfort yourself in difficult times that don’t involve food. For example, find an outlet to cure boredom that doesn’t involve eating. Food won’t change any of those feelings even though it might distract or soothe in the short term.

Identifying the underlying emotion is a fantastic step if feeding your emotions has become your habit. Remember eating for emotions reasons is normal. It’s not “bad”. If it becomes your “go-to,” we can help you explore new ways to feel and cope beyond food.

Respect and Accept Your Body

Learn to respect your human body. Accept your unique genetic blueprint. Consider if you were constantly trying to make your size 8 foot fit into a size 6 shoe.

Being overcritical of yourself makes it extremely challenging to reject the diet mentality. As a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador, I help clients practice body neutrality, which means that you don’t have to “love” every aspect of your body rather you practice having more compassion towards yourself as a human being.

All bodies deserve respect. Period.

I help you put your health in perspective and soften the habit of constantly comparing yourself to ideal body images that less than 5% of us naturally possess. It’s time for a reality check!

Move Your Body

Give up the rigorous weight-loss focused workout programs and, instead, move your body in ways that bring you joy and make you feel good. I love exercise, yet, I’ve shifted to movement that feels good not just physically but movement that also feeds my mind and spirit.

And remember, more isn’t necessarily better. Tune in and become more aware of the signals that your body is sending. Are you still tired and feel like you have to drag yourself to your next workout? Or do you look forward to your next yoga class because it allows you to slow down, breathe and press the pause button?

Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

Remember that you don't have to eat "perfectly" in order to be healthy. It's what you eat consistently, over long periods of time that matter. The key term is "for the most part." Honoring your health by eating healthy foods most of the time can come naturally when you reclaim intuitive eating. It's an important concept of intuitive eating.

Keep In Mind

Your diet is not only what you eat. It’s what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang around…be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, physically and spiritually.

  • Tiny Buddha

While these are the 10 principles to consider to help you reconnect to self nourishment, make sure this list doesn’t become a check-list, a “to-do” list where you accomplish it or not, succeed or fail. Because then again, intuitive eating can become another kind of “diet” or eating plan, full of “rules.”

Intuitive Eating…

  • It’s about reconnecting with yourself and nourishment.
  • It’s about tuning in to your unique body’s needs, instead of tuning out.
  • It’s about slowing down with food and with life, trying to fit it all in.
  • It’s about saying “yes” to yourself, making self-nourishment a priority…so that you can take care of others and feel and BE your best self.
  • And again, it’s not another list of rules or an item to add to your “to-do” list!

Doesn’t that sound lovely? I invite you to relearn how to eat again.

Have a question, comment or would love support and guidance through the Intuitive Eating journey? Reach out!

  • Tanya

Sugar Isn’t Evil

Sugar and Its Effects

So many of my clients ask me “How can I eat less sugar?”

It seems like sugar-bashing is all the rage lately. Sugar-less diets and detoxes are everywhere, but I want to tell you something: Sugar isn’t evil. And trying to quit it 100% by using willpower can be super stressful and actually…isn’t necessary.

Phew! Right?

Having said that, let’s look deeper at sugar and its effects on our bodies.

Consuming excessive sugar, natural or not, is not good for your health. Yet we have a taste bud for sweet so we were designed for sweet things. What happens, though, is that you may find yourself eating far too much sugar. So what it boils down to is: how much matters.

The American Heart Association recommends 32 g or less for men, and 24 g or less for women of added sugars. If you look at coconut water (something that depending on the brand can be quite healthy), you’ll see that one can contain 24 g of added sugar! If you were to drink that entire can, you’d have reached your daily allotment of sugar already. Sugar can be sneaky so it is best that you’re informed.

Instead of white-knuckling it to quit sugar, these are my favorite tips to answer your question “How can I eat less sugar” AND have a better relationship with sweet.

Five tips to reduce sugar intake

  1. Read food labels. How much added sugar does this product contain per a serving and how many servings are you consuming? Be aware.
  2. Build Campfire Meals to balance your blood sugar levels and help prevent physical sugar cravings.
  3. Avoid artificial sugars. Artificial sweeteners can actually cause you to crave even more sugar and cause a cascade of negative metabolic effects in your body.
  4. Look Deeper. What’s going on when you crave certain foods?
    Is there an emotional need you’re trying to fill? Notice if you crave sugar when you need more “sweetness” in your life. Next time you find yourself in the midst of a sugar craving, pause for a moment and bring more awareness to this craving. What are you feeling? What was going on in your day before this craving hit? TO DO: Practice the “pause strategy” to help you gain insight and begin to break the emotional need for sugar. My ultimate goal with clients is to find new ways to fulfill this emotion besides food, drink, excess shopping or whatever you tend to lean on. We all need a variety of coping mechanisms in our toolbox.
  5. Feeling badly about eating sugar and 100% restricting it is not the answer for 99% of us. In fact, it could be causing your cravings. Nothing intensifies a craving like restriction. When we practice the above tools, and re-learn how to Eat Intuitively, by listening to the physical sensations coming from our body instead of outside diet culture rules, we can have a healthy and happy relationship with food and our bodies.

The “How can I eat less sugar” main takeaways

  • In general, be aware of the recommended levels of sugar for adults. Eat balanced meals and snacks in which something sweet can absolutely be included!
  • It’s completely OK and natural to enjoy dessert. Remember that sometimes restriction can make us want it more. And stressing about sugar can be worse for our health than anything on our plates.
  • We were designed with a sweet taste bud and we’re meant to have sweetness in our lives. Ask yourself: Are you getting enough sweetness out of life that has nothing to do with food?
  • You’re human (and life is too dang short) to avoid sweets completely. Relax, slow down, savor your ice cream cone, your birthday cake! All foods can fit in a healthy diet. Healthy eating isn’t “perfect” eating. It’s about what you eat for the most part, over time.

The key is to be mindful of the amount and quality of of sugars you’re generally consuming and how food choices or emotions may be driving your cravings.

Have a question about sugar, need help getting to the root cause of your sugar cravings? Reach out!

  • Tanya