Always a fun, unapologetic and thoughtful creator of meaningful content on social media as @YourDietitianBFF (Instagram and TikTok), she’s been a contributor to Outside magazine, Weight-Inclusive Nutrition and Dietetics (WIND), Shape Magazine, Diversify Dietetics, and Healthline.com. Check out her work and learn more here.
- Our ability to listen to our bodies
- Labeling food “good” or “bad”
First, let’s talk about listening to your body. This may be something you already do or it may be totally foreign to you.
We start the session by having you do mindful breathing because that subtly flips your central nervous system into a parasympathetic state (i.e. calm state) vs. a sympathetic state (i.e. stressed state). Being in this calmer state allows you to use more of your consciousness to listen to your body.
But let’s back up. Why is it important to listen to your body? Well, the body is the most intelligent and efficient system humans have ever studied – no rocket, computer, electric car, or any other invention is as spectacularly intelligent or efficient as the human body. Our body constantly communicates with us, telling us what it needs and wants. But very few of us are listening to it.
The practice of listening to your body can help you start to create more harmony in your relationship with food. Over time, listening to your body can help you to tune into your body’s inner wisdom about what to eat. Over time, you might not need to think too hard about what to eat.
You’ll start the Indulgences session, like every practice in Way, with a question – How does this indulgence make my body feel?
We give you some options and examples because describing what your body is feeling is not always easy. You may also have your own thoughts to describe what your body is feeling.
How does my body feel
By asking yourself, “How does my body feel? Do I have more energy or less? Does my mind seem clearer or foggier?”, four hours or the next morning after you eat something, you’ll likely start to uncover which foods make your body feel good.
You may find foods you thought were “bad” for you (more on this label below) actually make your body feel great and give you energy. Or you may find foods you thought were “good” for you make you feel foggy, sluggish, or even give you an upset stomach.
Which brings us to the second subject this session on Indulgences brings up: the “good” vs “bad” food dichotomy, and developing a sense of neutrality around food.
We have a diet culture in the US (and internationally) that labels foods as either “good” or “bad”. Foods that are “good” or “healthy” are leafy greens, “clean” (whatever that means), and “lean” meats or some types of oils. While foods like ice cream, milk chocolate, savory decadence like cheese-covered potatoes (yum), loaded burgers, or pizza are labeled “bad”. But, these labels aren’t entirely accurate, because they don’t take into account how your body feels when you eat these foods.
Indulgences are almost always thought to be “bad” but we should explore why this is. Why do we override the signals and feelings our bodies are giving us because of labels that may be irrelevant?
Sure, if you eat pizza and have a bad stomach ache or too many trips to the bathroom the next day, you probably should pay attention and find where your threshold for pizza is so you don’t upset your stomach in the future. But you may get that same feeling from quinoa or kale. And eating a burger may make your body feel great.
By listening to these cues and signals from the body, you can have more agency and confidence, knowing that whatever you eat will bring more joy and goodness to your life and your body.
Listening to your body and rejecting arbitrary labels as a cornerstone of your relationship with food can make life much more fulfilling and further your exploration of yourself.