Patterns of Diet and Nourishment
(This blog post is inspired and adapted by Marc David and the Institute for the Psychology of Eating – To find out more about the Eating Psychology Certificate program, click HERE)
Many people believe that once you find a good diet for you, it’s the one you should stick with for the rest of your life. Not only is this not realistic given our ever changing bodies and environment, but it may be unhealthy as well. We must be able to adapt and change when the situation calls for it, and not sit in judgement for it either. When I was pregnant, for instance, almost immediately my beloved fruits and vegetables became evil, bile inducing foes and even my glorious daily habit of coffee had to be curtailed due to nausea. For others, your diet may change when you’re training for a marathon, or when you’re on vacation or when you’re grieving. Sometimes people develop food intolerance and must adapt. This is all normal and to be expected! What is more important is discovering what phase of nourishment you are in now and/or if it is working for you. In the article below I’ll describe several different phases of nourishment, diet and nutrition patterns. I’d love to know: Which phase are you currently in? Is it where you want to be or do you want change?
When we are in a cleansing phase we are feeling like we have been over-indulging (like after the holidays or a vacation) and want to “detox” a bit from sugar, alcohol, caffeine and perhaps heavy foods. Cleansing phases are often short-term and serve to lighten up the system or become less physically reliant on foods we crave.
A building or strength phase often comes after a cleansing phase when one is ready to get healthy, strong, build muscle or balance or fortify one’s diet. Foods tend to be rich in protein, cruciferous vegetables and lots of healthy fats and complex carbs. Often goes hand in hand with a new strength training or fitness regime.
This is our regular default diet. One that we tend to turn to day in and day out, without much thought, planning or effort. Many people can stay in a sustaining phase for many months or even years. It’s business as usual without introducing anything too new or unexpected.
Diet Doldrums Phase
This often occurs after many months or years in a sustaining and maintenance phase. We get bored, we get restless. We get tired of eating the same thing day in and day out and start to want to branch out from a dietary perspective as well as from a flavor and preparation perspective. Maybe we search for a new diet protocol or perhaps a new way of cooking our favorite ingredients.
From the dieting doldrums we can embark on a discovery phase of a new way of eating. This could be trying a new program, like the Whole 30 or perhaps a paleo inspired diet. Maybe it’s starting an in-home meal delivery kit program or perhaps it’s researching the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Food is love and love is food. They are inextricably intertwined. In a celebration phase, we have a natural attraction to pleasure, through food. We appreciate nuances of flavor and look for and enjoy social occasions that allow us to have different food experiences. Maybe we plan “girls night out” or try new restaurants or simply cut loose at a wedding or vacation.
An Emotional phase can happen concurrently with any other phase of nourishment or as a separate phase of its own. Its a time when we eat solely based on how we feel. Our feelings will dictate our food choices in a powerful way and we even may choose foods that keep us “stuck” in that emotion. For example, if we’re anxious, we may look for foods like sugar and caffeine that physiologically keep us in a more anxious, jittery state. We tend to judge “eating our emotions.” Rather than shame or fight them away, however, it’s important to accept and surrender a bit to them to be able to unpack them and understanding the motivation for them better.
This is a time in ones life when we feel driven to follow a specific and sometimes restrictive or punishing dieting regime. We may become very focused, for instance, on removing all sugar from our diet. Or only eat certain foods such as those that are labeled organic and non-gmo. Sometimes it goes hand in hand with greatly wanting to lose weight or gain weight. Sometimes this extends to supplements as well, in taking them in a controlled and excessive manner. There is a newer eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is defined as an obsession with eating healthy or “clean.” This focused way of nourishment can also be tied to other circumstantial events going on in one’s life at the same time. I wrote an article about my personal experience with Orthorexia, which you can read HERE.
Healing and Renewal Phase
A healing and renewal phase is when we use food to heal us in some way, whether because of a preexisting or developed medical condition or perhaps after a life-altering event such as a heart attack or diagnosis of diabetes. We can also adopt a healing and renewal diet when we have a simple cold or flu or to heal issues related to your GI tract.
Life Transition Phase
This is also known as an “anything goes” phase. When one is pregnant, for instance, sometimes all bets are off with respect to food. We may have aversions, cravings, lack of appetite or ravenous appetite – which is all to be expected. Life transition phase of nourishment can also occur after a traumatic event like the loss of a loved one or even a move to a new city when discovering new routines, new restaurants come into play.
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jenny eden coaching @2016