• Meredith Rawlings

What the heck am I supposed to eat?

I am willing to bet my life savings that I have tried more diets than you have. Not that it's a competition, I'm just saying I've tried it all. Counting macros, counting calories, low carb, no carb, low fat, Paleo, dairy free, sugar free. Then there was Whole 30 (made it a Whole 5 days), then Keto (wayyy before it was trendy), then the Dukan diet (disgusting). After that I tried straight up eating nothing for a while. I was always cranky, anxious, cold, always worried about what I could or couldn't eat. I was willing to try anything. Anything if it would FINALLY give me the body I thought I was supposed to have. I drove my family nuts, my friends nuts and myself absolutely nuts.

It's no wonder we're all so confused about what the best diet is. Nutrition and fitness experts are so divided and pitted against each other, each person going to bat for their most recent fad. One podcaster says it's all about nutrigenomics (the idea that what your body needs to eat is based on their specific genetic makeup). Then the next guy says that's a load of crap and our genes have no effect on our metabolism. One doctor is all about eating fat to get thin. But the experts down the road say heck no! oil is toxic and will kill you! Fruit is healthy! Wait no it's not!

Do you have nutrition whiplash? Because I do.

Why are we so out of touch with our bodies that we have to Google "what am I supposed to eat?" Don't lie, you know you've done it too! Why do we have to ask everyone else what is best for us? Many of us have reached the point where we don't even know what foods we truly enjoy, we just know what we are "supposed" to be eating.

The truth is your body knows what it needs. Once you get back in touch with yourself you'll notice what foods you actually like and what foods make you feel good. Maybe you don't actually like fettuccine alfredo as much as you thought. Maybe you hated asparagus as a kid but after giving it a shot you'll love it. Stranger things have happened!

If gluten/meat/FODMAPs/whatever food is currently being demonized doesn't bother you, there's probably no reason not to eat it. Maybe your friend is going vegan but you travel a lot so it's not feasible for you. That's okay!

There are foods that are not healthy for you. Eating some foods will not help you reach your goals. The amazing thing is that once you start paying attention, you will notice what foods make you feel bad. You'll notice that going a couple of days without eating green veggies makes you feel sluggish and gross. Or maybe you get a indigestion after eating fried foods. That way, the next time you get hungry you can make informed decisions about what will make you feel GOOD and help your body run optimally.

When I first started allowing my body to make my eating decisions I was terrified I would gain weight. I let myself eat fries every time my boyfriend and I went to our favorite restaurant. The crazy thing is, after a couple of times ordering them, I realized that the fries didn't actually taste as good as I thought they would. I was actually fine with eating two or three and then they didn't seem that appealing. Now, I usually order a side salad and eat a couple off my boyfriend's plate. (Isn't that what boys are here for?) Most of the time, I leave the restaurant feeling full and satisfied. Not bloated or yucky the way I did after wolfing down a whole plate of fries because I knew I wouldn't allow myself to eat them again.

Every meal is an opportunity to make yourself healthier and happier.

Sometimes making a healthy decision means enjoying ice cream with friends and sometimes it means choosing a side salad instead of fries. YOU get to make the decisions. YOU are in control of how you treat your body, not Google. It takes time and practice but after following your gut (literally) for a little while it will come naturally to you. Often, weight loss will occur just because you are giving your body nutrients it truly wants which helps regulate hormones. You don't have to track anything or count calories unless you have specific athletic or health needs.

Simply tune back into how you are fueling yourself and what that is making you feel like. The key is to relax, let go of unrealistic expectations, and define what your true lifestyle goals are.

Here are some tips I use to make intuitive eating easier:

- Focus on ADDING food: Namely non-starchy vegetables and lean protein. Most people don't get enough of either. If you ADD these to your plate first you are more likely to I swear they will make you feel super energized.

- Give yourself an indulgence every day if you need it: a little chocolate, a serving of pasta for dinner, a sprinkle of cheese on your tacos. Because when you feel like you indulged a little, you aren't depriving yourself and you reduce the risk of a binge later.

- Make a note in your phone if you eat something that makes you feel not great so you can avoid it next time.

- If you feel run down and tired: eat especially slowly. Don't rush. Make your meal relaxing and preferably not in front of the TV. When we are tired our bodies release stress hormones that can mess with out appetite and satiety so we are more likely to overeat so we have to pay extra attention on those occasions.

- Most of all: enjoy your food and don't avoid situations just because you're afraid a party or dinner will wreck your progress. One meal won't hurt you, unless you skip it and miss a great time :)

I'm always here to support you and answer any questions you have! I'd love to hear

from you over on Instagram! @merebodyandsoul

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