About a year ago I published a post about my attitude or philosophy about food called Eatuition; in that post I shared some of the books I was reading, food I was eating an vaguely shared my opinion on eating intuitively. I have been thinking a lot about this post recently and about ‘Eatuition’, and wanted to explore the philosophy behind it in more detail.
Eatuition is, in a nutshell, an attitude towards food and eating that is all about using you intuition, knowing what foods are good for your body and not depriving yourself. Social media is flooded with food and diets, people are promoting healthy eating, yet so many young people are falling into a negative relationship with food, restricting themselves and unfortunately developing eating disorders; for all the young people that get to the point of an official diagnoses, we have to ask ourselves, how many more are slipping under the radar?
My relationship with food has been a bit of a roller-coaster through the years; my mother made her business from weight-loss consolation, she has read every diet book out there, tried them all and still, has battled with her own weight for years; so, growing up I was more informed than the average person about food. Despite this I developed a negative relationship with eating in my late teens, I was always depriving myself of something, I avoided carbs like the plague, and binge ate in may car when I thought no one was watching. I went down a slippery slope of binging and dieting and constantly watching the scales.
Fast forward to present day and I wonder how I ever lived without potatoes!? About 2 years ago this Easter, when my sister was visiting during the school holidays, we missed our flight back to Ireland and on the train home (while binging on peanut m&m’s and pepsi) I learned that a YouTuber I followed had become a raw vegan. This was the beginning of my journey back to enjoying food, really enjoying food; it was a bumpy journey that consisted of a juice cleanse that ended with a serious binge session in Camden and numerous meals that left me unsatisfied.
When I decided to become a vegetarian, that was when I started to completely rethink my relationship with food; suddenly eating required more thought that usual and portion sizes became a minefield of not enough or too much, but I soon began to find balance when I stopped over thinking and started listening to my body. I don’t feel guilty eating a two people portion of baked baby potatoes, I eat until I’m full and satisfied.
So does Eatuition mean you can eat what you want when you want? No. Eatuition is about eating when you’re hungry and choosing foods you know are good for your body and personal lifestyle, it means not depriving yourself if you want to have a treat and not punishing yourself the next day if you did. For example, I know that milk chocolate makes my skin breakout, so I eat dairy free chocolate 9 times out of 10, however sometimes I have a craving for something sweet and I’m not in a position to get my hands on a chocolate alternative so I will choose some regular chocolate instead and I won’t kick myself up about it. Sometimes I don’t want to cook a super healthy dinner and instead I want some takeaway, so I order something veggie based from JustEat and I don’t keep myself up afterwards working out how many minutes I’m going to have to do on the treadmill to burn it off the next day. However, I don’t go on a wild food binge, eating for the sake of eating, using bad foods to try and make myself feel temporarily better. My body is my temple and I try as much as I can to show it respect and fill it with the foods I know make it feel good; for me, being vegetarian that is a high-carb, plant based diet, but for you it could be something different.
Diet does not have to mean calorie counting and deprivation, diet by definition actually means “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats” and so diet is based on your lifestyle, your human needs, your culture, not on calorie consumption and unrealistic rules. If I can offer you one piece of advice it would be this: educate yourself; reading books about food composition and how the uses food completely changed the way I think about eating, and this is different from reading a ‘diet’ book which will be bias towards the programme it’s selling and make you run and scream from all carbohydrates. Apart from textbooks I read when I was in school, two of the best books I have read and that have helped me develop my philosophy around eating are The 80/10/10 diet by Douglas N. Graham and The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose; I know that I just said don’t read ‘diet’ books and that both of these books have diet in the title, but they are both more about how your body works and uses different food groups then they are about a particular diet; I have read both books and can’t say I follow their ‘diets’, I simply apply the knowledge I learned from them to the food choices I make, but you will never here me say “I can’t eat that because I’m on the 80/10/10 diet”, the only thing you’ll ever hear me say I won’t eat is meat and food I don’t like! However, once again choose to read a book that will help you learn more about how to eat for your lifestyle, and pick and choose what you take away from whatever you read.
Food should be about enjoyment, I love eating, my world revolves around it! I love trying new dishes and recipes and I love the comfort in eating something you know you love again and again. My boyfriend is Italian, as I’ve mentioned before, and trained in catering, so when he cooks at home I sometimes have to pick myself up of the floor in recovery from how good it is; he respects my food choices and avoids over using dairy if I’m not feeling like it, but then knows how to use cheese to it’s best when I get a craving. Don’t even get me started on the food I’ve eaten when we travel to Italy! The wonderful thing about Italians and their food is that they don’t buy into fads or processed foods; when you go to a restaurant they are passionate about what they serve you, they make it from scratch, the use fish they caught that morning, they use tomatoes they grow in their own garden; they eat good food and they know how to make it taste amazing. The Italian influence has made me reconsider how I shop for food and use food at home; if you do one thing in a step to have a better relationship let it be this: DON’T BUY READY MEALS! Buy a cookbook, make food in big batches, freeze the leftovers and use them when you’re too lazy to make something from scratch, but please, no microwave dinners.
So, what is Eatuition? It is a way of living. It is eating foods you enjoy and that your know your body loves too. It is not restricting yourself based on portion size or calorie intake, but is also not about eating whatever you want, when you want, if you know that those foods are not good for your lifestyle. It is about choosing fresh foods where possible, and making meal time as enjoyable as possible. It is about returning to the true definition of diet, a lifestyle not a programme.