Drop the Rules (1)

Make friends with your cravings.At my home, we have been going through some changes in our diet. After feeling out of balance for awhile, we decided to take a look at what we needed and drop the restrictions we had set up. We decided to listen to our needs and go for quality foods that nourish our bodies today. We have added meat back in, we are juicing again, eating a larger variety at breakfast, and focusing in our gut health. We have also been indulging in red wine, quality cheese, and even chocolate and coffee.

The reason? Because we no longer want to be on a diet of any kind. We want to focus on what our body needs and craves (for me that was meat), and not the stress that comes along with restricting certain foods, even when your body is sending clear signals that it needs something new.
Depending on your body type, your daily routine, and your life stage, your body will have different needs than your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even family members. A few years ago, my body was ready for an all out detox diet. I went vegan, didn’t drink much alcohol, and juiced every morning. After a few months, I realized I needed to avoid gluten and wheat, as they led to major stomach aches. After while, I adjusted and my body changed. I needed different fuel.  I needed more protein and I started craving eggs. rather than stress and guilt-trip, I found some from a local farmer. I added in eggs and some dairy. For awhile, that worked. Then this year, after a stressful, draining few months, I found I was hungry all the time. No matter how much I ate or how little I moved, I was hungry all day. So I ate a steak. Then I ate a chicken a few days later. My hunger balanced back out and I have continued to eat meat since.
When I listened to my body, rather than guilt myself about what I felt, I was better able to nurture, nourish, and fuel my needs. I wasn’t stressed and I felt good about my decision, each and every time. I found balance again after constantly being hungry and feeling my weight creep up, and I finally felt full, nourished, and satisfied. The same way I felt when I first went vegan.
If you look at your current dietary style or choices and your current needs, how do they stack up?
Do you have moments where you feel like your body needs something different, but your diet doesn’t allow for it? If you ever feel stressed of guilty about listening to your body, it might be time to make a change in your diet and rules.

Take a moment to reflect on how you feel:

While it might seemed “new age” or silly (two things I LOVE by the way), this can be the most beneficial step when you feel out of balance with your food.
How do you feel? Are you hungry, weak, tired, sluggish, stuffed, unsatisfied – you name it. Identify what you feel to give you a better idea of what isn’t working and what is.

Pay attention to what you crave:

Focusing on your cravings can give you a bigger insight into what you might be lacking in your current diet.
Notice your cravings. If you are craving s certain food group or flavor – sweet, meat, salty – you might be missing some essential pieces of your diet. Sweet cravings often mean you are lacking enough sweetness in your foods and life. Meaty cravings can mean low iron or protein, or that your body is trying to rebuild after working out, crisis, pregnancy, breast-feeding, etc. Pay attention to see what comes up often for you.

How does that craving make you feel physically and emotionally:

Besides identifying your craving, notice what that brings up for you physically and  emotionally.
When you crave, it could be a lack in nutrients, or a lack in your life. If you are missing sweetness and fun in our life, you might crave sweets and desserts constantly. If you are lacking sleep, you might crave sugar and caffeine to “wake” you up.
You might also have an emotional reaction to a craving – such as attachment, resentment, or even sadness. If you don’t eat meat, but have been craving it, adding it back in might be a hard choice, no matter how much you know it would be good for you. It might go against everything you thought was right. The same might go if your body craves more grains or vegetables and you have been a hard-core meat-eater for awhile. By noticing how you feel and what it triggers, you are more able to work through it and do what is right for you, not the rule book.

Are you more stressed by your diet than its worth:

Stress is a major cause of disease-inducing inflammation in the body. When you get stressed, it affects your gut, your hormones, and your ability to maintain weight, concentrate, sleep, and problem solve. basically, stress can wreak havoc on your system.
If your diet is causing you to stress out over what your crave vs what you eat, it has moved away form a healthy lifestyle. It really is as simple as that. Just because green juices and vegetables are the healthiest foods nutrient-wise, if you are stressed because your body has been craving iron from red meat, you are doing more damage than good. If you have been eating meat every meal and suddenly your energy levels fall and your digestive system gets sluggish, you are most likely ready for a change, no matter how stressful it might seem. Listening to your body (not a book, expert, or friend) is exactly what you need.

Make the choice:

Once you work through it all, it is time to put it into action.
Decide what rules can be thrown away and jump in. Listen to your body and know that the choices you make won’t be forever. Your body will continue to change and your needs will change with it. Tune in regularly to see what changes you might need to make. Listen to advice and share your own experiences, but know that each person is different. Make peace with your decisions and allow yourself the chance to thrive. You, and your body, deserve it.
Now that you’ve heard my story, it’s your turn – What rules are you going to let go or change? Which step above really hit home with you? Leave it in the comments below.
Much love,
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*Please note, I’m not talking about routinely eating processed “foods”, chemically laden products, and  manufactured food items because it would be less work to just ignore your need and eat a box of cupcakes, or a bag of potato chips. We all know that these won’t make you feel better in your body – they are a once in awhile splurge (and since its once in awhile, go for mega quality and enjoy the heck out of it). I’m talking about when we only allow certain food groups, or banish others, because we read or have been told it is the “right ” way to live forever. For your body, it may be right today, but may not be right tomorrow. Honor it.