Cake Or Kale? Listen To Your Body When It Comes To Food

So what top foods should you eat right now?

Whatever the heck you want.

You were probably looking for a list of healthy foods to match up with your current eating plan, hoping for proof that you're doing it right. Eating well. That you're OK.

In this dogmatic wellness world of "eat this, not that," it's so easy to get locked into a particular way of doing things, not because it necessarily feels good but because it feels definitive and safe. Most humans, including myself, crave certainty and with so many unknowns in life, it's natural for us to find security in the rules we create around our food.

And yet, as you know, health is not just physical.

It's emotional, mental and spiritual. And often our locked-in food rules can create moments of resentment and isolation which impact our emotional body and by association, our physical one. When we say no to meeting up with friends because we're afraid we won't be able to avoid wine and pizza, or when we get anxious about gaining weight during the holiday season, these negative emotions deeply impact our health.

In thinking about what you should be eating right now, rather than read another wellness book or default to your current food rules, see if you can first employ these four ideas:

1. Your body is trustworthy.

We often stick to regimented diets because we don't trust our body to make the decision.

When I first start working with clients around letting their body choose what to eat they always say, "If I let my body choose I'll just eat chocolate and cheese all day."

But what I've seen in my years of practice is that we feel drawn to the foods we've decided we aren't allowed to have. If we trust our body and make it OK to choose whatever it wants, from a physical place rather than an emotional one, it always leads us to what serves it best.

And yes sometimes, that is cheese and chocolate and sometimes it's sautéed greens and squash.

2. There are no good and bad foods. Only choices.

I don't believe that cake is inherently bad and kale inherently good. I don't believe in guilt-free dessert because there's no reason to feel guilty about food in the first place.

In taking away this idea of "good" and "bad" foods, any decision we make is simply a choice. If we can hold that choice lightly, without guilt, we're more likely to choose the things that will nourish us best, whether it's a green juice or ice cream.

3. Be honest with what YOU want.

We're so good at saying no to ourselves in the name of health. We can justify our actions by believing we're saying yes to wellness, but at what cost? Has our pursuit of health taken away the spontaneity of life and changed our eating habits from preferences to locked-in prescriptions?

It's very easy to lose our freedom by shoving ourselves into a "healthy" prison of our own making. We must learn to say yes to ourselves and be honest with what we want, knowing that if tonight we want pie, tomorrow we may want swiss chard.

The key here is being aware of when we cross over from nourishing into numbing. This is the line at which our broccoli obsession is no longer nourishing us but has become a blind religion that numbs us from what we truly want. If you're going to eat anything, whether quinoa or cake, be honest and make sure it's what you really want.

4. Whatever you choose is wellness.

Both croissants and cabbage are wellness in my book. Wellness is that thing that makes you feel best both in the moment and after. When we really want a cookie but go for kale, we often feel proud yet unsatisfied. We begin to look for something else. That's a clear sign the kale was not your best choice for wellness.

When we can release our grip on our black-and-white definition of wellness (croissants are bad, cabbage is good), we open up to the possibility that whatever we choose is wellness and that choice simply depends on how honest we're being in that particular moment.

Know this: You're doing such a good job. You eat really well. And now it's time to let go a bit.

Next time you're about to grab a salad with lean protein because it's the "healthier" choice or because you've hopped on another cleanse, ask your body, "Do I really want this?"

If the answer is yes, eat it and enjoy. If the answer is no, trust your body to choose what's best for you both. This is scary, I know. But I promise that what your body chooses are the exact foods YOU need to eat right now.

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