Intuitive Eating and Ethical Choices: Finding a Balance
Last week I wrote about ethical choices we can make when it comes to food. I realize that for many, making ethical food choices can feel like an added pressure on top of the everyday choices we already make. After all, in our society we are taught to take so much into consideration before sitting down to each meal: if you’re truly hungry, if you deserve this meal, calorie content, fat content, carb content, sugar content, the ingredient list length, and it goes on and on. So today I want to talk about how intuitive eating and ethical food choices can both have a place in your life.
The key here is balance and listening to your body’s needs. Your health and wellbeing should always be a priority when making any diet changes, even ethically conscious ones. Be willing to experiment and remain open-minded throughout the process. Check in with yourself often to ensure what you are feeding yourself is nourishing and leaves you feeling great. You may even want to keep a food log along the way. Instead of tracking calories, though, you will keep track of how you feel. Track your energy levels, how your body feels and how you feel mentally after each meal.
For example, I eat a primarily vegetarian diet. I try to listen to my cravings as they come up and experiment with trying the foods I crave. I’ve learned a lot through the process as well and since I’ve taken the time to experiment I’ve picked up which cravings are my body seeking nutrients and which are my brain seeking comfort. Note that neither are bad. With time, however, I have learned that I do not feel as good indulging in a cheeseburger craving as I do in one for fish. With that in mind, I prefer to skip cheeseburgers when I am craving one in favor of a veggie burger but will happily order some seafood when out. Remember, intuitive eating is more than just following each and every whim. By listening in on what your body has to “tell” you after a meal you can make more informed decisions next time.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you can’t bring your best self to the table if you are tired and sluggish. So fill your cup first with the right stuff and then do what you can with what you have. Don’t forget that as you attempt to add kindness into the world for others and the planet to your daily routine that you also extend kindness to yourself along the way.