As a Nutritionist and wellbeing expert, my philosophy to food is pretty simple. Enjoy real food and eat to nourish your body *and* your mind. In this article, I hope to bring your awareness to the simple practice of intentional eating and how this can support your hormonal health.
With so many distractions associated with modern mums, from devices, children and our never ending to do lists, we are becoming out of sync with our body. These distractions are interfering with our instinctual ability to eat what we need when we need it.
Think about it. Newborns are designed to know when and how much nutrients they need, whether this is via breast milk or formula. Their primitive bodily instinct gives them cues to identify when and what to eat. When we’re pregnant, our bodies are very good at giving us cues as to what our body (and baby) needs and why.
Intentional eating is not a new concept, nor is it a fad “diet”. In fact, it’s not a diet at all. It’s a behaviour. It’s about tuning in to your body and cutting through all the external stimuli to really listen to your body’s cues. Regularly taking the time to reflect on your cravings or your desire to eat and make note of
- Why you’re hungry?
- What are you hungry for?
- Are you craving certain foods for the feelings they evoke, or for the nourishment they provide?
Emotional eating can be a common behaviour associated with stress, fatigue, burnout and shutting off from our emotional wellbeing. i.e. not dealing with the root cause of our stress. The problem with emotional eating is that it is a slippery slope and can quickly turn in to lasting habits that can be difficult to change.
The idea of really listening to your body and eating to fuel it takes practice. And perhaps the most important part? Is being kind to yourself when you revert to old habits. Every meal is another opportunity to nourish your body with the right fuel. Your thoughts are included in this, they are fuel, emotional fuel. So fill it with positive and caring thoughts for yourself.
Understanding the role hormones play in our physical and emotional health can help to implement positive eating behaviours. A well-balanced hormone system not only allows you to feel vibrant and full of energy, but it makes tuning into your body and eating intentionally that little bit easier.
Hormones are the control centre for our cells and organs. They send the signals from one part of your body to another ensuring everything is working as it should. They also have a profound effect on your mental, physical and emotional health. They also play a major role in controlling your appetite, weight and mood.
Hormonal imbalance is becoming increasingly common in modern western fast-paced lifestyle. Mum’s in particular, struggle to re-balance their hormones after children and are likely to feel the effects in every aspect of their life.
For busy Mums, the most common hormonal issues relate to thyroid hormones, the adrenal hormones, melatonin, and the ovarian hormones. Nourishing your body with nutritious food and healthy lifestyle behaviours can help to support your hormonal health, allowing you to feel and perform at your best.
Tips for Intentional Eating:
- Food Journal – Start with keeping a simple food diary. Make note of what you eat and when. Also, make note of what you’re feeling when you crave snacks. Are you feeling stressed, tired, anxious etc. This will give you insight into any patterns of emotional eating.
- Mindful Eating – This is a great practice for the mind-gut connection. If it’s not realistic to do this for every meal (let’s be honest, dinner time with small children is like feeding time at the zoo) then choose one meal in your day to practice some mindfulness. Saviour the meal, really be mindful during those first few bites. Really focus on the smell, the texture, and the taste, try to be conscious of how many chews you take before swallowing, this really helps with digestion also.
- Meditation – Apart from the many benefits of meditating, it can help bring your awareness back to your body and help you identify any relationships between what you eat and how those foods make you feel.
- Fasting – try to limit food intake at night. This is our body’s natural period of fasting when our repair system takes over and the detoxification process begins. By honouring this, we find our natural eating habits will fall into a constant pattern during the day that’s more in line with what our body truly needs. Late night snacking can not only interfere with our body’s natural eating patterns, but our inactive state at night will prevent that food from being converted into energy. Which is why we often don’t feel hungry or skip breakfast. And so, the cycle continues.
So where to from here? You might find my or simple meal prep tips for busy mums helpful to guide you on your intentional eating journey.
If you found this helpful, then please feel free to share with a fellow Mama.