Our bodies are constantly talking to us. Only problem is they’re speaking a different language. And whispering. And everything else out there is screaming for our attention (hello, low carb craze), drowning out that small, still voice, telling you something else. That poor little whisper doesn’t stand a chance.
This is why being able to “listen to your body” is so much easier said than done.
Listening to your body is a more than a skill. I call it a sense, like seeing or smelling, because it’s like a survival tool for your body.
It takes some practice to hone and strengthen it. As you do though, that small, still voice gets louder and stronger. Think of it like a muscle you haven’t worked out in awhile, or that you didn’t even know was there until after a particularly challenging workout.
Identifying and maintaining this muscle is how you truly take charge of your health.
There’s not a doctor, or a test that compares to the power of understanding your own body and how it’s reacting to what you put in it.
For this week’s #RRChallenge2019 we’re working on tuning in and listening to your body. So, I want to give you three strategies you can use that will help you start working out your “intuitive eating muscle.” Choose the one that you find the most interesting or that best suits your needs to start with.
Experiment with breakfast.
This is something we do in [RE]NEW – my group “no more diets” program that helps you reset your relationship with food in four weeks. The way it works is you have something different for breakfast each day for a week and notice how you feel.
It’s helpful to take notes so you can keep track and compare day to day. For instance, one day you might have just fruit, another day eggs, another a granola bar, and another a smoothie with greens. Each will affect your energy, ability to focus, and hunger levels differently.
And here’s the real kicker – they’ll affect you differently than they will me. Some people feel great eating a light breakfast like fruit or a smoothie, others need to (as the saying goes) eat breakfast like a king. Which is it for you? If you’re not sure, a breakfast experiment can help you figure out the right thing for YOU.
All of this is why Dinner in 10 – my online cooking class and meal plan in one – includes different breakfast options so over the course of four weeks you can discover some new favorites. Key is bringing some extra attention and intention to it to get the most out of it.
However you go about doing the breakfast experiment, take your time with it, try a variety of options all while working on those detective skills. Your energy level in the morning and after breakfast sets the tone for your whole day. Getting this one meal right can be the first step in getting so much else right that comes after.
Keep a food diary.
This one takes the breakfast experiment a few steps further and carries it through your whole day. To keep a food diary, you’ll write down everything you eat throughout the day, making note of your hunger level before and after, and any signs and symptoms from you body following the meal.
Keeping a food diary can be helpful on a few levels. 1.) It adds a layer of mindfulness and accountability to your eating habits. Like, if you have to write down that handful of chocolate chips, maybe they’re not worth it? 2.) It trains you to pay attention to how you’re feeling and gets you to notice cues from your body that you might have otherwise overlooked (ie. that tired feeling post lunch). 3.) It helps you draw connections between those cues and your food. You can look back at your notes from the last time you had a sandwich at lunch – maybe you felt the same way?
If you want to give it a try, here’s a template you can use. Or you can create your own in your favorite notebook, or day planner you already carry. Or, use Dinner in 10 (or at least to get started the FREE 3-Day Meal Plan) and your meals are already written down – just make notes on how you feel in the margins.
Whatever is going to make it easy and convenient so you actually do it, do that.
Play with protein.
Do you know how your body does with animal protein versus plant protein? Try experimenting with this a little bit and change up your protein sources at different meals/times of the day. For instance, how do you feel when you have a salad with animal protein, like chicken, versus a salad with quinoa or chickpeas for lunch? Same for dinner, how do you feel when you have an animal protein at dinner, like salmon, verus a lighter dinner like a vegetable soup?
I find in general most of us get more protein than our bodies really need. Many of us overestimate how much our bodies require (because America is obsessed!… read: protein powders) and we underestimate how much protein we’re getting from our food. For instance, the average serving of animal protein is 6 oz, when the recommended amount is more like 3-4 oz. And, did you know vegetables have protein too? It’s a much smaller ratio than foods that are considered “sources of protein” but over the course of the day it adds up. So you can see how it can be easy to get more than you need.
BTW, Dinner in 10 can help you do this one too. It varies protein sources from animal to plant and also shows you how to construct plant-based meals with healthy protein portion sizes that keep you satisfied. The FREE 3-Day Meal Plan will get you started.
If you’re curious to see how your own protein count is stacking up, there’s an app I like called Cronometer. You can enter your food, recipes and meals you eat often, find pretty much any food… and it tells you where you stand on your macro and micro nutrients. Pretty cool.
If you try one of these experiments out, let us know. Share your findings with us in the comments and on social media. We can’t wait to see!
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps families find healthy routines that work, with no more “what’s for dinner?” stress, and a lot better food. Her family meal plans help moms take charge of their kitchen and their own health, leading to more vegetables and less junk all around. Megan also shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.