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Intuitive eating for self love

I am so honoured to be introducing this wonderful human being to you all....

Around 10 years ago whilst working in the marketing world I often had the pleasure of working with this lovely lady.

I always loved our in depth chats on health & wellbeing, her vibrant and refreshing personality is so welcoming and I'm sure anyone who knows her will agree.

In starting her own venture she has created MsHolistic Nutrition which focuses on all things health and wellbeing.

In fact, we both have our similarities actually - like I did, she grew deeply concerned about health and wellness for both herself and her loved ones. So in 2013, she headed to Vancouver, BC to further her studies in Nutrition. Since then she has supported clients with an array of different health concerns from type 2 diabetes to anxiety. In focusing a great deal of attention on mental health levels she likes to offer her clients a stress-free zone, supporting with nutrition advice, yoga & mindfulness.

The knowledge this beauty possesses is pretty impressive and she is going to share just a little snippet for you, right here.

So without further ado, I welcome with open arms, my lovely friend

Simone Venner

The Mind-Gut Connection

Intuitive Eating is a phrase you hear around a lot these days but what exactly is it?

The nutritionist Laura Thomas defines the act of intuitive eating as eating according to our own physical and psychological needs; paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues, recognising pleasure and satisfaction from what you eat, and how food makes you feel in terms of stamina, energy, and general wellbeing.

In short - practising eating awareness to help you find a health path that works for you, intuitively.

Some may think, well isn't intuitive eating all about eating whatever your body craves?

And to a large extent, yes. The body asks for what it needs and our cravings go a long way towards alerting us to what nutrients our bodies are deficient in.

However, it’s also about eating when your body’s hungry and stopping when it’s full.

When I teach nutrition in schools, kids are always quick on the defensive and why shouldn’t they be?

Nobody, no matter their age likes to be told what to do let alone what foods to eat. Now this is usually a shock to the kids but the first thing I recommend during my classes is to eat WHATEVER they like. Whether it’s sweets, chocolate or blooming turkey twizzlers; knock yourself out, kid.

The catch however, is the homework. For practical guidance, I ask my students to write down how they feel directly after consuming their favourite foods, how they feel three hours after and finally how they feel when they first wake up in the morning.

I get them to detail how they feel physically, mentally, as well as their hunger and energy levels, emotional wellbeing;

are they feeling happy, sad, tired, unable to concentrate, and finally whether their stools are regular or irregular. Of course, they’re rarely honest with this last question but hey it’s worth a try!

I’ve often found through my own experience that kids are a bit better at tuning into how their bodies are feeling than adults. This makes sense for many reasons including the fact that throughout their day your average adult will generally have a thousand and one things to distract them from what’s going on inside their bodies. Most of us are also creatures of habit and by the time we reach adulthood, we’ve been eating a certain way for a long time - making noticing our bodies’ reactions to the food we eat that much tougher. You wouldn’t believe how many clients I see that tell me they’re used to their gas, bloating or even constipation because to them, it’s just part of their daily experience.

There are several factors including low amounts of fibre, water, poor diet, sensitivities, slow digestion and even menstruation that can contribute to constipation and therefore make it a regular occurrence in most people’s day to day lives. This means that most of us don’t consider it a matter worth serious contemplation.

A study by NutritionFacts.org states that the minimum faecal output should be about half a pound per day for cancer prevention. Larger bowel movements have also been associated with lower rates of appendicitis, colon cancer, constipation, and diverticulitis. According to this 2016 report, constipation-related hospital admissions cost the NHS £145 million; a telling fact concerning our general understanding of gut health and its effects on overall wellbeing.

I try to encourage my clients to pay as much attention to their bodies as possible. Whether it’s a headache, a bloated feeling, or a rash; the body has a way of letting you know when there’s an imbalance in your system. Now I’m not suggesting that you panic every time you have gas, but if every Sunday night you deal with heavy bloating and are unable to eat breakfast on Monday morning, then I'd suggest you start paying closer attention to your weekend diet.

Baby Knows Best

When in doubt, look to children and their habits for clues. Baby-led weaning for example is a method practiced by some parents through which a baby of weaning age is allowed to practice "self-feeding"; eating independently whenever he or she is hungry.

We are all born intuitive eaters

Eating when we’re hungry and stopping when our bodies are full but the environment we grow up in drastically manipulates this. Consider how a hungry baby will cry until fed and then turn his or her head away when satiated, the mind listens to the body by instinct. So if we are born intuitive eaters then when do we fall off the intuitive wagon?

We know that our diet is closely linked to our social environment but could the fact that we’re constantly subjected to junk food advertisements be a link to unpractised intuitive eating?

In one 45-minute journey, the average London commuter is exposed to more than 130 adverts,

featuring more than 80 different products

We can see up to 10,000 advertisements per day.

Nothing is more powerful than knowing what your body wants and this practice starts with listening.

Making these changes towards eating more intuitively is an important connection to self-love, it’s not possible to value our emotional and mental health while ignoring our physical health.

Where to start?

Need Vs Want

It is one thing to say eat what you feel but when marketing stats show that the best place to stock sweets and chocolates are next to the tills this makes it almost impossible to listen 100% to what the body actually wants. We know that everyday we’re subjected to thousands of ads promoting weight-loss pills, quick fix plans, highly processed foods, sugary snacks and drinks.

The fact is if you have run out the office for lunch, having a crappy day and feeling low on energy, that Lion bar is going to be exactly what you want (at that precise time).

I mean it wasn't in your thoughts before because you've only just seen it. But it’s hit a trigger and you grab it and chuck it on the till.

Whenever I pick up food that I think twice about, I ask myself one thing; do I need this or do I want it?

There is no right or wrong answer but I suggest you take a second and start connecting to how food makes you feel. I notice that the more in tune my clients become with their bodies, the more intuitive their food choices are in turn.

Mindful Eating

Although mindful eating is very NOW, these practices have been around for centuries.

Practices such as saying grace before consuming food can be linked with mindfulness.

People who eat mindfully tend to eat more slowly, aiding digestion while speed eaters don't give their bodies time to register that they're full.

Thorough chewing is also one of the best recommendations for anyone dealing with poor gut health, indigestion or acid reflux. Correct chewing is a crucial part of mindful eating and may even lead to weight loss. This is because when we take time to properly chew our food, the hormonal signals responsible for letting the brain know when we’re full are given time to perform and respond according to the body’s needs, leading to an overall reduction in food consumed.

It should be noted that it takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you’re full.

So. Take. Your. Time!

People often ask me, how many times should we chew our food?

The answer is approximately 32 times before swallowing, the number varies based on food texture.

Digestion doesn’t just take place in the gut, it starts in the mouth. When we eat carbohydrates a digestive enzyme called Amylase is produced, you may notice this when your mouth starts producing more saliva when you chew dry bread, it may even start to get sweeter with each chew, this is the Amylase.

This starts the digestion process in the mouth along with the teeth and it means less energy used up by the gut.

Mindful Eating Exercise

The next time you're eating, pick one food item from your plate - say it’s broccoli - visualise the journey of this food. From seed; needing water and sunlight daily before sprouting, this item is picked and washed and then shipped to a supermarket before being washed again and (sadly) wrapped or packaged and put out on the shop floor. It’s then picked, washed, and prepped before being served on your plate. Every item on our plate has had one hell of a journey. Take into consideration imported products such as bananas or avocados that have a much longer and more challenging journey. Taking our time to mindfully eat our food gives the body time to prepare for its next meal which is important for our digestion and overall health. I have seen clients reduce their active reflux issues within a week of mindful eating alone. I have also seen clients indirectly drop weight from correct chewing. Awareness practice

Place an apple in your hand and take a moment to really look at it. Take in the size, the shape, the colour. Then take the apple to your nose and inhale, try to connect to every part of the apple. Take a bite of the apple but before you chew, notice the perfect crunch sounds and the flavour as it hits your palate. Slowly start to chew, tuning in to every sensory aspect of this experience, count the number of times you chew before you swallow and really try to connect to how this process works. We eat between 2-5 times a day but how often do you tune in to the earliest stages of the digestion process.

Try to practice this at least once a week and notice how you feel afterwards. Top Intuitive Tip

Eat when you are hungry.

This is one of the biggest lessons I can give especially if you are dealing with poor gut health; preventing eating for the sake of eating and asking yourself what the body needs at this time and connecting it to the situation you're in.

Do you have a meeting to run to or are you just about to hit a yoga class?

Think about which foods will keep you full yet physically and mentally alert instead of stuffed and groggy.

When I was dealing with IBS I would eat my lunch and dinner like clockwork, although 2-4 times a week I was so horribly bloated that I knew my stomach couldn't handle any more food.

This comes back to asking yourself what your body really needs at any specific time.

Good health isn’t simply about keeping your gut to a specific routine especially when it’s clearly not working.

Take note and trust your body to make your decision Like my school kids, eat what you like and allow your body to let you know what works for it.

Try and disentangle yourself from diet culture and simply listen to your body.

When I suffered from IBS, I had so many foods in my daily diet that my body just couldn't digest but still blamed my IBS on everything but my diet. When I started opening up the communication lines between my mind and my gut, it became infinitely easier to know which foods made my body happy and which didn’t.

Our relationship with our bodies is a lifelong one that we need to work on as fiercely as we do our other relationships.

So get out your pens and paper and start finding out what works for your body and learn to trust in your body again.

You can hear more from Simone and follow her journey here: