Ever hear this nutrition advice?
“Avoid carbs!” “Eat whole grains!” “Go vegan!” “Eat meat!” “Trim that fat!” “Eat more fat!” “Cook your food” “Go Raw!”
It’s no wonder these polarized opinions create such confusion, anxiety, and overwhelm.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great ideas out there, and sometimes we need to explore a variety of options to figure out what works for us.
For example, when I started having severe digestive issues in the early nineties, I read stacks of health books and tried the whole gamut of diets to feel better. I separated proteins from carbs, juiced until I turned orange, avoided sugar like the plague, fermented raw goat kefir and kombucha long before it was hip, and was vegan for twelve years before incorporating fish, eggs, and chicken back into my diet.
Each of these choices played a pivotal role in my healing. Every time I tried something new, it was like telling myself, “Hey, I care about you, and I want to help.” In the process, I learned how to pay attention to my body and recognize what felt good and what didn’t. Most importantly, I discovered something that I believe is true for all of us.
There’s a place within each of us that knows exactly what we need to be nourished at any given time.
We all have different needs, and these needs change throughout the day, month, seasons, and years. No expert can monitor this every moment and always know what’s best for us (at least not without racking up a very expensive tab). That’s why it’s important to stay connected to the part of us that does know.
So how do you tap into your inner wisdom and make choices that are right for you?
It’s difficult to hear what your body and soul are asking for when you’re distracted by your phone, social media, or busy chatter. Instead, take a few minutes to have a meaningful conversation with yourself. Close your eyes and get ready to listen without judgment. You may want to start with a simple question, like “What’s one thing I can do to have more energy?” or “How will this ice cream make my belly feel?” Try to stay open and resist directing your answers to what you’d like to hear. It may take time, but you’ll be surprised by what you learn!
Whether you call it “intuition,” a “sixth sense,” or “gut instincts,” you were born with the ability to know what you need to be happy and healthy. For example, I once had a client who came to see me for chronic diarrhea and bloating. When I asked her about her diet, she told me she’d been forcing herself to eat raw salads because this is what she believed she should do—even though she craved baked squash and starchy root vegetables. When she finally allowed herself to eat the foods she believed were “forbidden,” she immediately felt better—and finally gave her instincts a lot more credit.
It takes time and energy to nurture any healthy relationship, including the one you have with yourself. Show yourself you’re in it for the long haul. Keep showing up—even when you hear nothing but crickets. I assure you, the more you listen and practice trusting your gut, the more you’ll know what replenishes and fulfills you throughout your life.
Go ahead. Try out the latest diet or health advice. Take the parts that enrich you, and let the rest go. And whatever you do, pay close attention to your inner wisdom along the way—because only YOU know what truly nourishes you.
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I’m a practitioner of Chinese medicine, specializing in digestive health and self-care. When I’m not teaching or writing, I’m most likely changing diapers, plunking my banjo, or making an impressive mess in the kitchen. Learn more here