Healthy Living as an Intuitive Eater: In Real Life
Many of you have shared with me that you're curious about what living a healthy life as an intuitive eater actually looks like, in real life. I've done a couple what I ate posts- but to be perfectly honest, food freedom means more often than not, I don't remember to take photos of what I eat! But I want to share this with you, because I'm so passionate about eating intuitively- and I'm also super passionate about living a vibrant, energized, healthy and purposeful life.
As I’ve shared before, health and intuitive eating aren’t mutually exclusive, but the mindset piece- releasing dieting thoughts and behaviors is essential to be able to fully step into making choices for our health as an intuitive eater. That being said- it’s ok if you’re not there yet. Everyone’s pace at which they move through the process of intuitive eating is different, because we all come from a different place when entering into the process of learning to become an intuitive eater. It’s ok if you’re not ready to incorporate healthy living practices into your life, if they feel constraining, or diet-y. It’s not the right time yet, and I have 100% respect for where you’re at in your journey.
If you are like me, and have been in the process of finding freedom with food for some time and have the desire to include foods and practices that make you feel good, so you CAN live that energized, healthy mama life you desire (gentle nutrition), I hope this post sparks some ideas for how you can incorporate health into your intuitive eating journey, without rules or obsession.
It’s worth noting what I’m sharing isn’t meant to be a set of instructions for things YOU should do, this is based on our family’s values and what feels good in our bodies and how we choose to honor our bodies and what is satisfying, to us. More on eating according to your values, here and more on how to choose what to eat, here. It’s ok if your version of healthy looks different than mine. Everyone’s does.
What healthy living looks like, for me, as an intuitive eater:
Smoothies: MOST days during the week, we throw together a quick smoothie. While we've done family smoothies in the past, the kids are hit-or-miss when it comes to smoothies (Wren usually has the last couple of sips from the bottom of the blender), but my husband and I typically split one. I use the Healthy Mama Smoothie Formula: fruit, veggie, protein, healthy fat, liquid. Gentle nutrition piece: We add greens to our smoothie for a nice dose of nutrients, and sometimes we'll also add things like flax or chia seeds for a boost.
Eggs and Toast: My second go-to breakfast is simple scrambled eggs, in avocado oil, coconut oil or ghee (whatever we have on hand- though we do prioritize good quality fats- no vegetable oil over here), with greens (spinach or kale) and sea salt, and toast- either with nut butter or ghee. Gentle nutrition piece: I love sauteed greens, and I enjoy the taste of eggs and greens- so it's a great way to get a handful of greens at breakfast. I typically choose whole grain, and often sprouted bread (it feels better in my belly) which also increases the overall nutrients/digestibility of the grains.
Sometimes I just love a good piece of toast with PB + banana. Gentle nutrition piece: I add cinnamon on top, because I love it- it is also anti-inflammatory and blood sugar balancing. A note on the nut butter, as well- we choose low to no sugar when possible. This is simply because we like it just the same without, and we'd rather have sugar in other areas.
Egg Cups and Sourdough: Sourdough is by far my favorite bread (I'm in the process of learning to make it myself!) and I love the convenience of egg cups on busy mornings. They're also packed with veggies (gentle nutrition piece) and sourdough is full of gut-friendly probiotics (and my belly loves it- I have IBS, so I do take that into consideration when I choose foods. I have my own personal threshold for what works, for me).
Eggs on a crispy Siete foods tortilla Can you tell I LOVE eggs? They're one of my all time favorite foods- and SO versatile. But usually I just go with scrambled! I love scrambled eggs and greens either wrapped up or on top of a crispy siete foods (grain-free, nutrient-dense: gentle nutrition piece) tortilla, especially after we've had tacos the night before. I add greens to the eggs, because I like it and it's nutrient dense, and sriracha on top, because a little spice is nice ;).
Other breakfast options: I do love a good yogurt and granola, but lately yogurt has been bothering my belly, so I've been listening and only having it when I'm truly craving it.
Easy prepped salad: I LOVE a good salad- but it need to be HEARTY. I'm all about filling my bowl to the top at the Whole Foods Salad/Hot bar, and I do the same at home- my favorite way to enjoy a filling salad is with homemade chicken salad (from a whole chicken we cooked that weekend, or a rotisserie chicken). This is served over baby kale (preference- love baby kale as a green) with a hefty drizzle of pear balsamic (a great way to offset the creamy chicken salad). Gentle nutrition notes: I use homemade or high-quality oil based mayonnaise. This is important to us, as low quality oils have been shown to be detrimental to our health. I mix up my salad greens weekly if I'm feeling salad that week, to get a variety, by asking "What greens would I like to enjoy, this week?". We love to add nuts or seeds to chicken salad or salad in general for a nutrient boost.
Leftovers are my most common lunch, outside of a big meal prepped salad. This is leftover orzo topped with leftover shredded brussels sprouts and quick sauteed chicken sausage. Super satisfying! Gentle nutrition note: We choose whole grain most of the time, when it's just as yummy to us. We love whole grain orzo as much as white (but we use both). Veggies add fiber (keeps me full) and micronutrients, so I try and include them at as many meals as possible. I always have a protein of some sort with my meal, as this balances my blood sugar and helps me stay satisfied longer.
In a pinch: The easiest lunch option- since we almost always have greens on hand, is a couple handfuls of greens, with a can/packet of tuna or salmon and primal kitchen dressing (my favorite store bought dressing). I usually have this with a bar or some crackers on the side as it's not quite fully satisfying. Gentle nutrition note: when we can, we choose wild tuna or salmon (sustainability and nutrient density) and dressing made from ingredients we can pronounce. I'm 100% ok with choosing the store bought option if I don't have the time to make homemade, but I do choose the best option available.
Quick lunch plus: Sometimes lunch needs to happen in no time, so I grabbed half a leftover veggie and hummus wrap- and added a salad (tossed in the container with some PK Barbecue Ranch), for a little extra crunch. Gentle nutrition note: I love adding side salads to soups, sandwiches or pizza for extra crunch and a dose of nutrients.
My FAVORITE on the go snack is a perfect bar. I can pronounce all the ingredients (gentle nutrition note, something WE prefer is choosing mostly real food ingredients) and it's a great dose of greens as well as being super filling. Other favorites: Rx Bar, Primal Kitchen bars.
OTHER Snacks: hummus or dip (this is my green goddess dip), with crackers or veggies (we love Simple Mills, Jovial Foods, Mary's Gone Crackers)-- though I prefer crackers, homemade energy balls or banana bread/muffins.
Adding in veggies whenever we can: This is one of our go-to meals, we LOVE mini meatloaves, and I pack them with shredded veggies for an extra dose of nutrition. The kids love them this way, which is a plus for all. We also love mashed cauliflower, so this is a go-to as well (if you like potatoes, ENJOY them- I'm allergic and love the cauliflower alternative as a nutrient-dense addition. You can also do half and half, if you prefer).
Pizza: We LOVE our Saturday night pizza party. We either make our own crust (yep, white flour and all) or buy pre-made from Trader Joe's, top it with sauce, cheese and whatever toppings we desire. Gentle nutrition note: I love spinach on top of my pizza, so we add it- as a nutrient boost and an extra layer of flavor.
Plant-packed meals: At least one or two of our meals each week are meatless; it saves our wallets (plant based is much more budget friendly), reduces some of the environmental impact of meat (though we source meat from sources we are comfortable with, which is another element of gentle nutrition- having food values over rules) and makes us feel good. A chickpea curry is a go-to in our house.
One Pan Fajitas with Cauliflower Rice: Gentle nutrition note: We eat white and brown rice, as well, but cauliflower rice is a great way to mix things up and get an extra dose of veggies and fiber in, so we'll switch it out every couple of weeks. We also try to add fresh herbs (cilantro here) whenever we can as they are SUPER nutrient-rich (and add a punch of fresh flavor!).
Wild caught salmon (a food value choice), roasted broccoli and Trader Joe's harvest blend. Gentle nutrition note: It's important when I'm crafting/planning meals that they are generally balanced. By this I mean: protein, healthy fats in there somewhere, veggies, carb/starch. It isn't a rule we follow but something we know means we'll have a well rounded plate and be fueled well.
Chicken tenders with cassava flour. Gentle nutrition note: We love trying out alternative flours that might be more nutrient dense than others. Again- there is no rule around this but curiosity and experimentation to mix it up and add more variety. We love chicken tenders with sweet potato fries (usually frozen) and a fresh salad on the side for some extra veg. Plus LOTS of sriracha mayo (4 tbsp mayo: 1 tsp siracha- or adjust to taste. Thank me later!).
Not pictured: dessert sometimes, glasses of wine, hunks of afternoon chocolate and a LOT of coffee with cream. Because balance doesn't come from perfection in our eating- it comes from tuning in, letting our bodies lead the way and making choices that serve us, now and in the future.
This balance is ultimately what I want to pass on to my girls- honoring and caring for their bodies, food choices being one of the ways we do that, with freedom and flexibility to simply enjoy food, without a single thought about nutrition.
I hope this gives you some insight and inspiration for how to incorporate healthy practices, while remaining 100% intuitive and open to what YOUR body desires (as well as with some light structure, because #momlife and #bossmomlife, you know what I mean?! This mama needs to meal plan!).
For more on how to incorporate healthy living + intuitive eating, be sure to sign up for the Uncomplicated Eating Waitlist. This is THE course if you want to learn how to release the diet mindset, move through emotional eating, trust your body and embrace simplified nutrition. Registration is just a few weeks away: get on the list.