Intuitive Eating: How to Eat (and Enjoy!) Chocolate
Today, I thought it would be fun to participate in my first (and last) What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) Dietitian style. This isn't a food blog because honestly, most of my meals are pretty simple, and I'd rather just eat my food...instead of take pictures of every single thing. It's also way more energy and time than I want to spend to take pictures of my meals.
Normal eating for me means not having to think about food all the time. It frees up my energy to actually live my life. I also don't share what I eat because everyone is SO different, and it's up to you to figure out what foods give you energy, make you feel good, and which foods don't.
I'm sharing because yesterday was International No Diet Day, and this is what a no diet lifestyle looks like for me. It's different everyday based on what foods I have in the house, if I buy meals/snacks out, or just how hungry I am that day. Please don't try to copy what I eat. This is what works for me!
I started my day with a bowl of full-fat, grass-fed yogurt and leftover fruit salad and a cup of tea. My boyfriend made this huge bowl of fruit salad this weekend for a BBQ with friends, and leftovers have been delicious. It had pineapple, mango, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. It was almost as good as the super delicious fruit salad we had in Puerto Rico last year that was topped with ginger, coconut, and honey. This picture is from my trip...I forgot about taking a picture this morning.
Most days I usually have one big breakfast, but I thought I was going to go for a run a few hours after my yogurt and fruit. My plans for the day changed, so I whipped up a smoothie with banana, raspberries, almond milk, coconut milk, chia seeds, gelatin, cocoa powder, and almond butter.
I heated up some leftovers in the microwave after practicing for a talk I'm giving tomorrow. I do some food prep on Sundays to always have food in my fridge for quick meals. I threw in chickpeas, carrots, peppers, roasted asparagus, ground beef, and avocado. Finished my lunch off with a piece of dark chocolate - 72%. Guess I forgot this picture too...oops.
My dad was nice enough to have dinner ready when I got in - grilled halibut, sweet potato with butter, and a salad with cheese, cucumbers, and olive oil & balsamic vinegar dressing.
I was busy making snacks for a talk I'm giving this morning (all about eating for energy!), so of course, I had to taste test them. I made a batch of homemade larabars - some peanut butter flavored and others coconut. I nibbled on some of each with a spoonful of peanut butter, just for fun. I spent last night at my parent's house and was starving on my drive home, so I grabbed something quick before dinner when I got in - tortilla chips + guacamole.
Another square of dark chocolate because hey, I love something sweet after meals.
Intuitive Eating and Chocolate
By not making chocolate an off-limits food and having it in my house at most times, I give myself permission to eat it anytime I want it. That may sound scary to some, but a "forbidden" food loses its allure when it's just another food okay to eat in the house. If it's too scary to keep it in your house, then give yourself permission to go to the store anytime and grab some chocolate. Yes at first, that may mean you eat a lot of chocolate...but after a while, you'll find out that you won't want to eat it all the time. If chocolate is one of your forbidden foods, or foods you worry about overeating, try out these tips.
4 Ways to Eat (and Enjoy!) Chocolate
Eat it mindfully.
Give yourself a moment with just the chocolate. Break off a piece, look at it, smell it, place it in your mouth. Let it melt. Take a bite slowly. How does it taste? How does it feel in your mouth? How does it taste when you enjoy a small bite compared to eating the whole bar in minutes? Do you like it? When you eat it slowly and mindfully, you'll learn what foods you truly like compared to foods you think you like. You can also pay attention to how your body reacts to different foods afterwards - if you feel sick to your stomach, get acne, or bloated. Notice what foods you prefer and how your body feels.
Buy the best quality, most appealing chocolate you see in the store.
If you want to truly enjoy chocolate, get good chocolate. Don't get the sugar-free or "guilt-free" chocolate. While those may be lower in calories, you won't enjoy them as much as a single square of really good chocolate. Add it to your grocery list instead of avoiding it during your weekly trip to the store.
Commit yourself to your choice.
If you're going to eat chocolate, eat it. Enjoy it. When guilt starts creeping in after you eat a previously forbidden food, it's going to make you want to eat more...then feel more guilt. It's a vicious cycle. Just be aware of how you feel afterwards, and give yourself some self-care time if you start to feel guilty afterwards. Treat yourself to a bath, a walk, an early bedtime, dancing, etc. to add pleasure to your day, so you don't get stuck in the guilt cycle.
When you allow yourself to eat anything - anything - you want, you can begin to re-build your self-trust with food. Diets take that trust away from us and make us believe that the diet gurus in books or on TV know our bodies better than we do. They tell us that we can't trust ourselves around food or trust ourselves to only eat one piece of chocolate. Intuitive eating is all about re-building that trust. By allowing yourself to enjoy a piece of chocolate, you'll start to realize that you can keep chocolate in the house without feeling out of control. It may take time, but that trust will come back. It's a wonderful feeling when it does!