Lauren Nixon is a Food & Wellness Educator based out of Washington, D.C, who who guides people in cultivating spirit-filled lives through self-care practices and real, healthy food. The attention and care that she devotes to eating and living well are palpable, and it’s an honor and joy to have the opportunity to share our conversation here. Catch up on Part 1 here, where Lauren shares her self-care practices, if you haven’t already! – xx K
1. What is intuitive eating?
For me, intuitive eating is a really amazing dialogue between your body and your emotions. When many people think about eating, they merely think of relieving themselves of hunger. But the five senses are heavily involved in every thing that we do. Honoring our five senses, our physical cravings, and our ever-changing palates (especially in the midst of seasonal changes, emotional changes, and physical changes) is really at the core of eating intuitively. So is honoring your body’s wisdom to know what whole, real foods would best nourish you in any given moment.
For me intuitive eating is decidedly intentional and paced. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you craft an intuitive eating experience when you’re on the run. There is so much power in the relationship between cooking at home and eating intuitively in order to craft an experience that is yours and only yours.
“Intuitive eating is a really amazing dialogue between your body and your emotions.”
For me, eating intuitively involves tapping into the following questions:
- How do I feel? Am I in my most balanced state of being?
- What textures are of interest to me today? The crunch of raw cabbage? The soft bite of a roasted sweet potato?
- What flavors will make me feel like my best self? A warm hit of garam masala? Simple salt and pepper? Smoky paprika?
- What scents will create a fulfilling environment for me? The smell of sweet honey dissolving in hot tea? Chicken roasting away in the oven?
- How much or little do I need to eat in order to feel nourished? Is a snack or a full meal the best fit?
- What colors will excite my palate? (The deep orange skin of a kabocha squash? The intense purple coat of an eggplant?)
- How can I create a meal that honors my needs in this very moment?
2. Does it have anything to do with food cravings?
Intuitive eating has a lot to do with food cravings! I think that allowing your cravings to lead you is a really natural inclination. I think that when we align that natural inclination to meet our personal food needs with the natural, amazing flavors that the earth provides, we’re bound to create a fulfilling eating experience.
Cravings are natural. Wanting something sweet, or comforting, or filling, or light, or dense…those are all beautiful things. I think that the beauty of intuitive eating is that you can take all of these needs and moving thoughtfully and deliberately, you can create a meal that is really wonderful.
3. How do I tell if it’s my body telling me what I need vs my brain telling me what I want?
That’s between you and your body (and your brain!). There’s only one you and only you can know the answer to that question. For me, asking myself questions about my cravings, my hunger, my emotional state, and my needs is the first step.
If you have questions or difficulty with the food/brain connection, a therapist or counselor would be a great place to start! There are so many therapists and counselors who are doing great work around eating practices.
4. What are the benefits of intuitive eating?
Eating intuitively allows you to create a space where you honor your hunger pangs, your tastebuds, and your emotions. It allows you to think creatively about your own needs.
Intuitive eating begs for a bit of research, a bit of dawdling in the cookbook aisle at the bookstore, a bit of food blog hopping, a bit of time at the farmers market, a bit of risk taking and comfort zone bending. You will inevitably come out of the experience more creative and more adventurous.
Most importantly, intuitive eating teaches you how to feed yourself. There’s no blueprint for how we should eat, so you have the freedom to create a personal blueprint that shifts and morphs and transforms as you grow as a person.
photos by Sophie Sarkar.
Lauren Nixon is a Food and Wellness Educator who guides youth and adults in creating healthy, nourishing relationships with local, sustainable food through cooking instruction and educational workshops. She has had the pleasure of working with sustainable food and environmental education organizations including FoodCorps, Urban Nutrition Initiative, Raices Eco Culture Micro Farm, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Hidden Villa, and many more. Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenNNixon or at www.laurennixon.com.