Are you interested in food freedom but worry that you won’t be able to focus on your health at the same time? Maybe you feel like if you got to a place of food freedom you’d only eat foods that you currently think of as unhealthy.
Mamas often worry about their health and want to focus on being healthy for their kids. But add this to all the other worries and stress of being a mama and often anything that’s around herself gets pushed to the bottom of the list. If you’re a mama trying to learn how to eat intuitively and find food freedom but also worry about your health, let me introduce you to gentle nutrition.
Gentle nutrition is a beautiful way to describe looking out for your health while also removing all moral value from food. This can be incredibly difficult to do if you haven’t healed your relationship with food and become tuned in to your body’s cues and signals. So, start there.
After you feel like you’re feeling pretty good about food and there’s very few to no rebound repercussions (like eating to discomfort, exercising to burn something off or feeling deep in shame) you can explore gentle nutrition.
The general guidelines around gentle nutrition are having a healthy balance of foods and having a healthy relationship with foods.
A lot of people have all of their “junk food” on cheat days or on the weekend and then feel like they have to pay penance starting Monday. This may look like a healthy balance of foods but is definitely not a healthy relationship with food.
If you are living off of salads (and you hate salads) but you allow yourself to have a square of dark chocolate (and you hate dark chocolate) every day. You may think this is a balanced day and having a healthy relationship with food because you’re letting yourself have the dark chocolate… But this is neither.
Gentle nutrition is considering the whole of you. The three things to focus on are:
Taste. Quantity. Quality.
You do not need to deprive yourself to eat healthfully. One of my missions in life is to help people learn how to enjoy eating vegetables.
If you’ve ever heard someone say you’ll get used to it, about the taste… I mean, RUN.
Taste is super important for satisfaction and satisfaction is an important part of food freedom so yeah, it’s a big one. With gentle nutrition taste is important but health is still honoured, without guilt.
It’s important for your health to feed your body enough. When you learn how to respond to your body’s cues and you have experienced food freedom you will be able to know what this looks like for you instead of relying on external cues.
This is not a “you should eat this” list, just information. I believe information is power but these are not rules to follow and it’s important you only take from this what you’re ready to take. If any of these feel like you are a bad person for doing or not doing then take a step back and keep working on your food freedom journey first.
Eat enough fruits and vegetables. This recommendation has been around for a looooong time. I used to say that I wanted to figure out how to make eating fruits and vegetables as sexy as all the other fad diets out there. Fruit and vegetable intake has been consistently linked to lower risks of many chronic diseases and it’s a good place to start if you want to start introducing some gentle nutrition. However, if you are still villainizing fruits and vegetables by making them a prerequisite to other foods or you only eat them raw you may have entered diet territory. Take a step back.
Eat enough grains. Preferably at least half of which are whole grain. Your personal recommendations for this may differ slightly depending on your genetics which is why I include a Nutrigenomix test in the FED Mamas program. I want to make sure that if we are talking about your health and nutrition recommendations around it we are doing everything we can to make it about you.
Drink enough water. Water is an essential nutrient but you don’t need it to be fancy. All you’re looking for is H2O.
For the above try to think about ways to add them into your meals that would be enjoyable, satisfying and sustainable – this is one of the key differences between gentle nutrition and a diet.
The last recommendation as part of gentle nutrition is to eat less processed foods, if you are able to. This could mean taking a highly processed food that’s a regular part of your meals and choosing a less processed but similar food or it could mean just eating the processed foods you do eat less often. Again this is up to you and only you can know if this something that you can do in a way that will feel enjoyable, satisfying and sustainable.
This is a glimpse into gentle nutrition. Our bodies are ridiculously adaptable and eating unbalanced for a day isn’t going to destroy your health. It’s consistency over time that matters the most.
Remember that when it comes to gentle nutrition and health:
I’d love to know how you would add fruits and vegetables into your meals in an enjoyable, satisfying and sustainable way. You can let me know in the comments or send me an email.
With kindness and compassion,