Your Ideal Diet: Mind vs Body – Or Mind & Body?

Originally, I thought this piece would be about all the science that we know with diet and losing weight. It would be another blog telling you what to do and inferring that if you follow some rules for a certain amount of time you will be the weight you’ve always wanted to be. Easy peasy right? That’s how I started many years ago, trying to figure out how to reach the perfect number on my scale. But it’s not that easy and once the ‘diet’ cycle has been started, it can become an endless cycle of yoyo dieting with losing and gaining and gaining some extra… 

Most of us start this journey confused about why we’ve put on weight or why we can’t get it off. We see our bodies as a problem that needs solving. And if we find just the right ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fat, if we intermittent fast or do timed eating, exercise more,  if we go vegan, or become a carnivore; if we follow this expert or that influencer… we will be able to fix this situation and go back to our previous or desired weight. But here’s the problem…all those diets out there don’t really focus on your body…

Now you’re thinking that I’m crazy…but I’m not. They involve your mind and what your brain ‘thinks’ you should eat. They rely on some outward force, person or research to tell you what to eat, how and when to eat it. And we are just simply not made that way. If you look at children, who still have their food instincts intact, they pick and choose from a variety of foods, eating enough at a time, focused on the food in the moment and then when satisfied they move on to another activity…. They eat intuitively and listen to their bodies.

I have recently learned to ‘eat from the neck down’; a process that involves allowing myself to have any food that I want or that my body tells me that it wants. It starts with imagining what I would like to eat at the moment of hunger. I have learned to de-code what some foods mean to me, emotionally or physically. And by doing the imagining first, I can figure out what my body needs. I get a strong sense of what will make me thrive and I then, as best I can, give myself that food in the amounts that it wants. Sometimes, it is a negotiation as I cannot find the exact food I desire in that moment. But my body and mind are getting good at this integration; its not really mind vs. body…they can work together for the benefit of both…

This is an ongoing process for me and is by no means perfected. I have noticed that even though there are no rules with intuitive eating and you have permission to eat whatever your body tells you that it needs and wants, I still have to have limits on sugar and flour. I don’t make good decisions for my health and wellness when I am high on sugar or flour. And they are just that for me – addictive substances. Not all people are as susceptible as I am and there is no one diet that fits all people. Except a diet that reflects what our paleolithic ancestors ate or at least as closely to that as possible. And that wouldn’t have involved refined foods at all; especially sugar or flour in the ways and amounts that they are processed today.

So I am learning to listen to my body and it’s needs and desires and combine that with what we know to be the best for human beings. I feel like I can say that I eat intuitively when I don’t eat sugar or flour…but when those are in my system, my brain overrides any possibility of intuition and dictates more and more and more of my ‘drugs of choice’ – sugar and flour and then I am full and miss out on all of that wonderful nutrition that comes from my plant forward diet.

Ultimately, as far as great health and weight loss is concerned a diet that is high in whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible with alot of variety is the bench mark to aim for. Using your intuition, and eating from the neck down, learning to decode certain cravings or desires for foods that are not so nutritious and deal with those emotions or factors without food, changing your beliefs around food and weight and trusting yourself, will go a long way to learning to nourish yourself in the most ideal way possible…using both your mind and body!


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