A Bright Start for 27: Intuitive Eating and Balance

If you missed the introduction post, I'm on a journey to feeling my best for my 27th birthday.

I'm working with superstar nutritionist Sarah Maughan to sort through my bad habits, increase my energy, and improve my overall relationship with food.

The goal: feel healthy, strong and happy when I jump out of bed October 17th to celebrate another year of being alive.


This past week we focused on finding balance in my meals and practicing intuitive eating.


Sarah's goals for me:

  • Each meal - 1 palm size protein, 1 palm size carbohydrate (fruit, starch or grain or sometimes can leave out), 1 thumb fat, 1 - 2 fists of veggies.  Each Snack (1 - 2) - half a palm protein each, 1 - 2 thumbs fat and a palm of carbohydrate (most likely fruit), optional veggies.    (This is minimum, we are not restricting - so more is okay, but we want to try not to aim for too much less.)
  • Instead of having a day of treats, a day of mostly nuts and a day of mostly salads, we need to get your eating into more of a flow throughout eat day.
  • One of the most important parts about gaining balance in the way you eat is not looking at what others are eating - wear blinders essentially.   We all have our reasons for eating the way we like to – and that’s totally cool – as long as you’re prepared and take responsibility for your own food and you don’t go days without food when visiting someone because they don’t eat the way you like.

My challenges:  I definitely have an all or nothing approach to my daily diet.  I have days where I focus on fruits, vegetables and nuts, and other days where I choose to survive on sugar, caffeine highs or other indulgences.  Finding balance is tricky.  When I eat balanced meals throughout the day it feels like a lot of food to me.  Even though I will generally consume the same amount of calories with large quantities of nuts or other dense foods I am always hesitant to actually sit down and eat three balanced meals along with snacks.  I struggled with this at the beginning of the week but as time went on I found myself craving real meals, feeling more energized, and seeing a drastic improvement in my digestion.  I want to stay on this path.



Sarah's advice for me:

  • Essentially, when people eat mindfully they dont need to look at portions in a day to be nourished because you feel fullness and you acknowledge hunger - helps to decrease cravings and moments when we want to restrict.
  • Eating consciously - the essential base. To eat consciously is one of the greatest tools you can learn to achieve the greatest life with food. Basically, when we unconsciously scarf down food we prevent saliva production from happening which can lead to indigestion, bloating, cravings, and dissatisfaction because the first step of digestion is already out of whack.
  • Smelling food and enjoying food help produce saliva which essentially creates a trigger reaction for the rest of digestion to occur. It's really quite cool when you think about it! To consciously eat it involves practicing with one food item, like a raisin or a nut - something pure. You place it on your tongue and you wait for saliva to occur. You'll be surprised how much fills your mouth and how quickly just by letting it sit there for 2 seconds longer than normal. Then as you begin to chew slowly - focus on the temperature, texture, and flavour. Did it become more moist? Did a flavour change? It's also good to see if any emotions surface as this happens - does this bring up a bad memory? a fear? a bad taste? Is your stomach tensing up? It's amazing that over time when we takes an extra 30 seconds to a minute as we begin to eat food how it can completely change the way your feel physically and emotionally about food - not overnight of course but you can feel the improved digestion and satisfaction from your food quite instantly. If you practice this over time, eating becomes a more conscious event, naturally - and any goal with food can be accomplished!

My challenges:  Sarah had me do an intuitive eating exercise which is a lot like what she described above.  You take a simple food and really focus on all elements and your own physical and emotional response.  I can put too much emotional weight on food and tend to eat with distractions or past my comfort level to ignore these feelings.  I really enjoyed focusing on all aspects of the food and felt immediately more connected with my meal and my body.  I want to continue this practice in an effort to rid the emotional ties I have with food as well as become more in tune with my own needs and hunger levels.


My overall feelings this week:  I'm really happy to be working through a lot of these issues and gaining my health back. I've been running off of stimulants all summer and have felt really out of touch with my body.  In the past week or so I experienced some hot flashes, disturbed sleep, anxiety, and some other not so pretty detox symptoms.  I can tell my cortisol levels are too high and that I'm a little out of whack.  The good news is I'm already seeing huge improvements in all of the above.  I'm really excited about this journey.


Here are Sarah's main goals to help me gain lifelong balance with food: 

1. Be conscious of our emotions, physical discomforts, energy, and strength and how food affects all 4 spectrums.

2.  Keep blinders on – avoid feeling pressured to eat a certain way – eat the way you like to because it makes you feel good, not because it makes you look good.

3.  Have flexibility (where possible) or otherwise be prepared with your own food - the option should never be to avoid food or not to eat – always eat, no ifs ands or buts. The only exception to this is if you have an allergy or disease that will be affected.

4. Eat consciously – savour that spoonful of food, enjoy the texture, the temperature, the dancing taste buds in your mouth – your belly and your sense of satisfaction will thank you.

5. Enjoy our food! The flavours and/or perhaps the presentation of it.


See you next Monday with another check in!  Do you have any questions for Sarah or I?