Monthly Archives: August 2015

Intuitive Eating

I’ve spent the last couple of years reading a wide variety of books on women’s health and fertility, holistic approaches to wellness, and the connection between mental health and hormones. But one of my recent favorite books is titled Intuitive Eating by nutritionists Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Simply put, intuitive eating is a way of eating that teaches you how to follow your body’s hunger and fullness signals, which brings you to a greater awareness and increased self-respect for your body. No counting carbs or calories. No monitoring your weight. No diets. It sounds so simple and clear, right? Like, duh.

Months before I even heard about or purchased the book, I was already trying to follow my own approach to intuitive eating–and for the most part, it was working. I stopped stepping on the scale. I ate when I was hungry, and refused food when I was full. I also gave in to cravings every once in a while–and this is the part that tripped me up the most. I often felt terribly guilty for eating a single fry. If I ate a whole burger, you bet I would obsessively think about–and regret–that burger for days. Even though my relationship with food was certainly progressing for the better, I still dealt with body dysmorphia relapses: periods of time when I refused to go out because I was convinced I was too ugly to be seen in public.

Intuitive Eating really is a breath of fresh air. There are no hard rules, but instead 10 principles, and each one of them make perfect, logical sense. Some of the principles certainly resonated with me more than others. The section about challenging my inner food police and critic hit home pretty hard, as did the principle to respect my body and its own unique characteristics. By the time I was done reading the entire book (which, while not boring, is lengthy and I invested a good amount of time in not only reading it, but fully understanding the principles) I felt like I had a great set of tools to help move me forward on my journey of health and well-being.

Bento box lunches add a nice touch to my work day.

Bento box lunches add a nice touch to my work day.

My relationship with food, my body, and my health has changed tremendously just within the past few months. I am no longer afraid of food. I love food. I’ve been taking serious pleasure in cafe con leche on weekends. Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola and topped with strawberries and mandarins has become my go-to breakfast on most weekday mornings. I recently had the most delicious seaweed salad and spring rolls on the rooftop of a Thai restaurant. Food has become the most wonderful, functional art, engaging all of my senses.

Sprats! They might look funny, but these guys taste delicious on crackers with cheese and sun-dried tomato.

Sprats! They might look funny, but these guys taste delicious on crackers with cheese and sun-dried tomato.

Reading Intuitive Eating in conjunction with Moody Bitches (Dr. Julie Holland) and Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Toni Weschler, MPH) especially helped me understand just how much damage I was doing to my body by restricting and starving it out. I dove deep into the different phases of the menstrual cycle and learned that I need to nourish myself each day of the month to be at my best and healthiest. This means brisks jogs during the follicular and ovulatory phases paired with eye-catching salads and light proteins. The luteal phase is a time for me to pause and ask my body what it craves most. This is the time of the month when I need salmon, hard-boiled egg salad paired with chardonnay, pasta, pilates, and definitely, definitely acupuncture. Menstruating calls for quiet. Coffee and writing, meditation. Rare steaks and red wine.

Mmm, thai iced tea.

Mmm, thai iced tea.

This isn’t to say that ever since reading Intuitive Eating, I haven’t had my hiccups. No one and no lifestyle is perfect. I’m definitely curvier now than I was when I was sick, and while some days I love it, other days I still struggle. But I can’t deny that I have more energy than before. I smile and laugh more, I’m less critical of both myself and others. When I nourish my body, I nourish my mind, heart, and soul.

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[sic], nourished.

Food and I have had a tumultuous relationship throughout my life. Sometimes it was my only comfort; other times, my greatest enemy. Now, it is a source of pleasure. It is sustenance.

Recently, my sisters and I visited my mom. She made my favorite meal: macaroni and meatballs. This is my everything meal. This was the food of childhood Sunday suppers after church. It is still the food of family and togetherness. We ate around the table on the fancy plates.

Best. Meal. Ever.

Best. Meal. Ever.

Nourish_Empty_Plate

We also drank watermelon cocktails (clearly not in the fancy glasses).

Nourish_Watermelon_Cocktail

I’ve needed connection and fun. I ate at a ramen shop with a friend, where we feasted on pork belly buns and noodles. (Ramen and mazemen not pictured. Too busy slurping and laughing.)

Beautiful buns.

Beautiful buns.

Then, there’s pizza. Always pizza.

Pizza at my mom’s house, accompanied by pink moscato and some much needed quiet writing time.

Nourish_Goat_Cheese_Pizza

Heat and eat pizza with creamy goat cheese and roasted red peppers.

Nourish_Wine_Journal

The perfect pizza for vegging out in front of the television.

Nourish_Meatball_Pizza

An amazing Sicilian slice with plenty of meatballs. Chewy, crispy, cheesy, crunchy.

I am obsessed with iced coffee. Life fuel.

Nourish_ColdBrew

Creamy cold brew.

Nourish_Nitro_ColdBrew

Nitro cold brew.

Nourish_McCafe

…Definitely NOT cold brew.

Let’s not forget hot coffee. Sometimes, just getting out of the house and grabbing a hot coffee will get the words flowing again. (My new favorite mini notebook doesn’t hurt, either.)

Nourish_latte

I had been craving a good lox platter and, finally, after weeks of denying myself, I just said, fuck it. Had a date with myself and enjoyed every single bite. I mean, just look at this beauty.

Nourish_Lox1

LOOK AT IT.

I needed to go for a walk the other day and ended up sampling food truck tacos. Cauliflower and chickpea tacos were delicious, but black bean and quinoa with homemade ranch sauce were transcendent. Sometimes, I can’t contain all the largeness inside. Everything seems so big and uncontrollable, but then I sit and eat and think and write, and the worlds–inner and outer–don’t seem so strange and overwhelming anymore.

Nourish_Tacos Nourish_Tacos2

What have you eaten today?

[sic]

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Cafe

This morning: cafe cubano,
the too-sweet stench
of platanos maduros

on the window sill.
They say I’m too white,
that I cannot lay claim
to my ancestor’s tongue

but they can’t discern
the merry clink of miniature
porcelain cups being brought down
from a high shelf

they can’t remember a land
steaming with hot soil
and a salt breeze;
Ruben at the piano,

old men singing in the streets.
I dreamed it, maybe.
Or was it a story?

Even so, most people forget
that after birth but before white or brown
or woman or man
we hunger for the nearest milk

and, years later, even after
the senna
and the pills
and the wasted time spent wishing
I was not alive

I reach for it:
two teaspoons of guava,
the thick pour of leche de almendras.

This is my story.
When I am hungry
I hold the world of my ancestors on my tongue
and swallow it.

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August theme: Nourish

What feeds you? Your body, your soul.

I’ve been slightly obsessed with sandwiches lately, largely due to the fact that I have black garlic mayonnaise in my fridge. Add that to the ease and simplicity of a perfect stack of nutty Swiss cheese, salty ham and crusty french bread with a perfectly soft interior, and it’s pretty much the perfect meal. (And this is why vegetarianism is so hard for me to maintain.)

There are certain foods and drinks that just evoke comfort. An egg with a perfectly oozy yolk. My mom’s meatballs, made with a sense of ritual. A big bowl of noodles slurped with relish. A good slice of pizza. Doesn’t have to be great or spectacular. If the cheese is gooey and the crust chewy with a hint of crispiness, we are in business. A good cup of iced coffee with just a splash of soy milk or cream and a drizzle of simple syrup. A cold, refreshing beer. A steaming cup of peppermint tea. (Yes, in August!)

Then, there is music. A new journal with paper of a certain weight. Television shows that make you both reflect and breathe. A book worn from time and constant reading that you can’t help but go to again and again. Shampoo that smells like rosemary and mint. A long walk where every sound is a song.

These are just a few of the things that nourish me. What feeds you? What satiates your appetite when life leaves you depleted and starved? Go on, Kindred. Share what nourishes your body and soul.

[sic]

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