I had recently shared my Top 5 Reasons Why We Should Eat Like A Kid. While this serves as a great reminder, I want to help you understand the HOW.
How do we learn to eat like a kid again?
How do start the process of unlearning?
For many of us we’ve been exposed to years of information regarding what to eat, how to eat, how much, what not to do etc. We’re stumped, confused, frustrated, hungry? Full? Not sure? Paleo? Keto?
Before you continue reading on, I'd encourage you to take a nice inhale and a long exhale. Remind yourself that navigating the nutrition world is hard. You're feelings of frustration are valid.
In this blog, I hope to provide you some steps on where to start. Where to start as an adult in this process of learning how to eat like a kid again.
Below are the following steps I’d encourage you to explore as you begin this process of learning and unlearning again:
Self compassion: With hundreds of diets out there preaching that "this is the BEST way to eat", with talented marketing programs selling their style of eating, with social media reminding you that fast results are just 4 weeks away, it’s not your fault for not knowing what to do. Learning to implement self compassion is key in embarking on this journey. Learning how to give yourself permission to take your time, make mistakes, eat, etc. is key. Learning to celebrate self compassion is key. It will be you working at your own pace with self forgiveness leading your journey.
Values: Getting very VERY clear on your values. I cannot emphasize this enough. The more you know more about yourself, the less susceptible you are to fall for diet gimmicks and popular fitness trends, because everything will pass through your “filter” (aka your values). If a diet plan suggests that you need to eat red meat, but culturally you grew up a vegetarian, it’ll be much easier to say confidently: “this is probably not the type of meal plan that will work for me". I'd encourage you to take some time and reflect on what values you stand by. Write them down and then post them up. Allow them to serve as reminders for you.
Experiment: Learning adopt an experimental lens is crucial to becoming a better food expert. A large aspect of learning how to nourish your body comes down to experimentation. Having the willingness to test something out and to see what happens without attaching your value, worth or confidence to failed experiments is a learned skill.
Think of it this way, if you’ve tried 1-100’s of different eating styles, you probably learned a few things that have worked and did not work for you, even if you "failed".
Ex. Diet Experiment #1: Suggests cutting out carbs at night. After a few nights you start to notice your sleep isn’t as restful, you’re waking up at 2am because of hunger. So it comes down to: “does this style of eating fit into the context of my life and values?” - How important is a good night’s rest to you and your life demands?
The more and more you can reinforce that experimentation is part of the process the less overwhelmed and more resilient you’ll be when navigate the nutrition world.
Favorite Foods: I’d suggest referring back to my “Favorite Foods” blog. You can work your way through the worksheet I provided that will help you identify how many of your foods you’re actually enjoying day to day. Enjoying what we eat can largely contribute to our compliance and success. So I would encourage you to bring in some of the foods you listed back into your routine.
Explore hunger and fullness: How does hunger and fullness express itself in your body? What does it feel like? Identifying these cues, for yourself, can serve as one of the best nutritional strategies. Does hunger start with a rumble in your stomach? Maybe you've figured out that you have 25 minutes to wait before you get "hangry" or light headed. Becoming more and more familiar with yourself during the ebb and flow of hunger and fullness can help ease anxiety and also improve your mind-body connection.
Explore your cravings: You can refer to my blog on “How to Honor Cravings” as a resource to explore your cravings. Remember cravings are clues.
I cannot emphasize patience and self compassion enough as you work through these steps.
You'll be challenging old beliefs, behaviors, and tendencies that you've lived by for years.
Learning to tap into cues like hunger, fullness and food enjoyment will be critical steps in improving your skillset around how to navigate food.