During our pregnancy, we tend to be very mindful of our health, particularly on the kind of food we eat. Because of course, we need to take care of the baby in the womb, right?
And after we give birth, we continue caring for our tiny little babies with little emphasis on caring for our own healing bodies. What’s worse, we even put pressure upon ourselves because we do not ‘conform’ to how our body should be or look like.
What Your Body is Truly Saying VS What You Have Been Told
A lot of moms feel ashamed around the fact that they are ‘struggling’ with their bodies because in the ‘playbook,’ that is what we are taught to feel. And the first thing we do to start taking care of ourselves is to drop that.
In our society, we’re flooded with images, ads, “shoulds”, and a diet culture that is pervasive in telling us what we should be doing with each life change….puberty, revenge body after divorce, keeping our diet to fit into that gown, getting back into shape after post partum, etc.
And those kind of mindsets makes us want to eat differently.
In a sense, it can be very grounding to be conscious of our diet but it only disconnects us more from our bodies. For example, we are told to eat this and that in a with the quantity pre-determined, but when your body still feels hungry after, what are you supposed to do now? If you believe that certain rule to be true, then you’re going to think that your body is not telling the truth, and that something is wrong with you. Which is NOT the case of course, because what our bodies feel are biological cues of our needs. Pay attention to that. What often gets in the way of taking care of our bodies is our own judgment and the external customs that affect those judgements.
“What our bodies feel are biological cues of our needs. Pay attention to that.” –Lindsay Stenovec
Your Body, Your Rules!
Like in most cases, improving on something meant not just learning new things, but it also meant unlearning some pre-programmed notions that we have. And that is a necessity in following these tips:
- Start out by making sure that your body is getting adequate food. Eat 3 meals a day with some snacks in between as you need, or based on how hungry you are without thinking what are those foods are. It may be strange, but it is important to navigate first what your body needs, and make sure that your brain is getting enough food.
- Give yourself permission to explore all foods. You read that right. There may be some foods on your ‘no-list’ that is worth trying out again. You may fear “being out of control” or overindulgence. But once you let yourself have that extra piece of doughnut, then pay attention to its taste, the enjoyment it brings, and how it feels in your body, you would actually find that point when you are done.
Once we overcome those days when we restrict ourselves of the food we actually want, we can have more autonomy over our bodies and become more self-aware of what we intake. We start to develop that clarity on what our bodies truly need. For example, you may start to notice that you become easily full when you eat this, you become more hungry when you eat that, you gain more energy with this food, and so on. And each person has different needs.
“It’s just craving and it’s bad”
You may want to listen to those cravings. Sometimes, cravings are just food preferences that are just popping up, and it’s totally okay to eat that chocolate. There’s a difference between craving for something in a sense that it sounds good, versus craving for it because it is on the ‘no-list’ and you can’t stop thinking about it. Because the latter may indicate deprivation.
On Emotional Eating
There are times that you turn to food because you’re stress or upset. You may feel that it is wrong, but know that emotional eating isn’t always an everyday case and that it is actually fine to normalize it. Give yourself compassion, grace, and understanding— that brownie might be part of your little coping toolbox!
Though just a warning; there are different levels of emotional eating, and sometimes emotional eating itself is a problem when it becomes our main tool for coping (and we’re using it for lots of situations.) Though it may be that we are not merely using food to cope, but rather, we just lack other tools in our coping toolbox! (*Best to check with a specialist if it becomes uncontrollable.)
The key is to recognize your eating habits, whether you’re doing it out of intention or bodily needs, or just eating blindly. It is about bringing awareness to our body cues: being aware of what’s going on with you emotionally, physically, and mentally around your eating habits. Then improve your diet based on that.
Befriend with what’s going on. We were really quick to say “this is horrible” or “why am I doing this’” or “why don’t I have control” during those situations. Instead, why not tell ourselves, “I’m a smart, resourceful person, and since I’m experiencing these patterns, there might be some legitimate reasons why this is happening. Why don’t I apply some non-judgmental awareness and start to collect as much data as I can with what’s happening?” —because that’s gonna give you a lot more info instead of shutting and talking yourself down. Change that negative mindset of self-shaming to learning and being more aware of yourself!
Lindsay Stenovec, MS, RD, CEDRD, CLEC is the founder of the Intuitive Eating Moms Club and the owner of Nutrition Instincts® – a San Diego-based group private practice. She is a mother, speaker, educator, podcast host, and a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. Lindsay is the host of The Embodied and Well Moms Show and speaks regularly on the topics of intuitive eating, eating disorders during pregnancy and postpartum, and child feeding. As a San Diego native, Lindsay is thankful to be able to raise her two sons in her hometown with her husband.
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