One comment I often get when I talk about mindful eating is something like - “Does that mean I never have to eat vegetables again? I’m never going to crave those.”
There are a lot of steps to go through to get to a place where you’re truly listening to your body and your cravings and eating in honor of them. Once you get there, I believe there’s a way to honor your cravings and food preferences and still be open to new tastes and food experiences.
When we talk about introducing children to new foods, we often hear the saying that it takes 10 tries of tasting a new flavor for a child to like it. Some people say the number is as low as 7, while others go as high as 20. That doesn’t end at a certain age; you’re often not going to like a new flavor on the first try.
In life, and especially if you want to live mindfully, it’s important to maintain a sense of curiosity about the world. That curiosity should naturally extend to food. So although you may not crave foods you’ve never had (or maybe only had once or twice) you should be curious about them.
I’ll use myself as an example - until about 4 years ago, I had never eaten a Brussel sprout in my life. One day at a restaurant I shared a Brussel sprout dish with a friend. Brussel sprouts have a very strong flavor, and I certainly wouldn’t say I liked them on the first try. But I was intrigued, so the next time I saw them on a menu, I ordered them. Then I started buying them and experimenting myself. Now I can honestly say that I have times where I crave Brussel sprouts (much to my husband’s dismay).
On the other hand, I am not a fan of eggplant. I would say at this point in my life, I’ve probably tried eggplant a couple dozen times. There was a moment a few years ago (after I made it the last time) where I gave myself permission to not eat it anymore. I think eggplants are beautiful, the deep purple is always tempting at the grocery store. There are a lot of dishes with flavors that I know I enjoy that call for eggplant. And eggplant has a variety of nutritious benefits (it’s rich in fiber and a number of vitamins and minerals). But when I eat eggplant, I never feel satisfied. It’s not a flavor or texture that I enjoy, despite trying it a variety of ways, so I don’t eat it.
If this idea of being curious about vegetables, or food in general, seems crazy to you, start small. Be open to being curious and see where that takes you. Life, and food, is all about adventure.
Today I failed a set at the gym. For those who might be confused, when you do a training program for lifting each day has an amount of weight and a number of reps and sets you need to complete. If you are unable to complete one of the lifts in a set, or unable to complete the number of reps in a set you are considered to have failed the set.
It sucked. Failure doesn’t feel good. But just because you fail something doesn’t make you a failure.
In fact, let’s talk a little bit about failure.
Does that word make your cringe? Nobody likes failure.In fact our society teaches us failure is something we should avoid. In our effort to avoid failure we often don’t even bother to try. Fear of failure stops us before we even get to the action stage of change.
But the truth is, failure is the only way you learn. Failure is a good thing, a great thing even. But it certainly doesn’t feel that way in the moment.
Failure, in reality, is a gift. It makes you reevaluate. Today’s failure means I look back on my day - did I eat enough? Did I get enough rest? And if that doesn’t seem to be the problem; I look at the bigger picture - do I need to do more or different assistance work? Do I need to improve my diet or recovery?
In order to overcome failure we have to get honest with ourselves. What went wrong? What went right? What can you do differently next time? And then the most important part - try again.
It’s easy to say, I know, but when you’re licking the wounds of your failure it can feel impossible. The trying again is where the rubber really meets the road. You may fail again, even if you think you learned from the failure before. But, remember, you failed before and it didn’t kill you.
It may feel easier to just walk away, but if what you’re working toward is a healthier, happier life, can you really live with the alternative? A new year is a time for us to reflect on what we want for our lives and begin working toward it. So if you miss a workout, or let the stress of the day get to you when promised yourself it wouldn’t this year, just remember - no road worth traveling is smooth.
If a healthier, happier life is in your 2017 plans, I would be happy to help you on your journey. Message me for an initial consultation and we can get you started on the right path.
As a Dietitian I often get asked about what I eat everyday, so I thought I’d document it!
Breakfast: Over easy egg on whole wheat avocado toast, with a clementine and 2-3 cups of coffee with Lactaid milk and hazelnut syrup
Lunch: Whole wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwich, jicama sticks and humus, and a glass of Lactaid milk
Mid-workout snack: Fig bar
Post workout recovery: 16 oz chocolate milk
Afternoon snack: Popcorn with a butter and parmesan cheese; a handful of raisins
Dinner: Ginger garlic mahi mahi over basmati rice and stir fry veggies
Evening snack: dark chocolate chips and lemon ginger tea
In all honesty, every day is pretty different. I eat intuitively, which means I listen to my body’s cues and cravings. Some days I eat more than others due to natural variations in hunger. I always eat 3 meals a day, and snack between meals when I’m hungry, which some days means one snack, other days can mean 4, 5, maybe even 6 snacks.
The idea of eating intuitively is scary for a lot of people.
What if I never stop eating?
What if all I crave are sweets?
What those fears really come down to is control. We are so programmed to diet by outside influences that we think we have to strictly control what we eat in order to be healthy.
But the truth is your body, when allowed to regulate naturally, knows what it needs, how much it needs, and when it needs to be fueled.
You may not eat a salad every day when you eat intuitively (sometimes I go a month or more without one), but then a salad isn’t really the epitome of health anyway.
Intuitive eating takes a lot of hard work and practice to achieve, depending on how restrictive you’ve been with your eating it can be a painful process. But when we heal our relationship with food and relearn to listen to our body, the joy we get from food and mealtimes return and eating can be the pleasurable experience it’s supposed to be.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.