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Intuitive Eating by Brian Lamb Medical Herbalist

Under ideal circumstances we ought to be able to sense what we need to eat to stay well and feel strong. This sense has almost entirely been crushed by the food industry as it has manipulated taste and desire to suits its ends.

Finding a balance between the three main food groups has been lost by almost everyone – but it can be regained by those who are willing to question and seek a better way.
How can we begin to eat intuitively? The maxim: ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’ is a good starting point. But for many whose busy lives prevent this, at least try to eat substantially before the evening meal which should not be the largest meal of the day. There is a good reason for this. The day presents our body with a metabolic tide – in reality a high tide and a low tide, similar to the ocean but different in that it is fixed in time – the high tide of energy starts early in the morning when food is used most efficiently. As the day passes, a low tide seamlessly develops when our body prepares for rest, relaxation and the mystery of restorative sleep. The morning tidal flow is called catabolic and the late afternoon is called anabolic. Catabolism is the breakdown of yesterdays complex molecules in the food we ate whilst anabolism is one of construction and storage which requires rest and sleep. This explains why obesity is powered by cramming food in the evening.  A busy working life will require a compromise but not a capitulation. At the weekend an opportunity exists to experience the maxim for maybe two days. The result will encourage you.

Eating earlier in the day if possible and taking meals at the same time each day including weekends will sharpen metabolism and increase our sense of nutritional needs.

Our body is controlled by cellular clocks causing energy flow between organs. Digestive system energy peaks and wanes on a regular cycle and by eating at a fixed time we avoid overload and increase our sensitivity to the three food groups: protein, starchy and non-starchy fruits and vegetables and fats.

The next step to intuitive eating is to eat simple meals of few items: for example steamed green beans and fish for our main meal. Segregating starchy vegetables such as potatoes or rice from protein allows for better digestion. Eating a large portion of green beans or other non-starchy vegetables more than satisfies the need for fast carbs and leaves one feeling comfortably satisfied but not bloated. Bloating is usually caused by digestive conflict between protein and starchy veg.

Diluting meals with water or eating fruit close to a main meal will also cause bloating. A good soup when slowly eaten is a healthy choice, but followed too soon by tea or coffee and cake and one is quickly bloated.
Intuitive eating asks the question: ‘how much protein makes me feel well and how much starchy food do I need for brain energy and am I eating healthy fats. Also, I have been told I need 5-portions a day of fruit and veg. Is this correct and how can I manage 5’? By eating smarter one eats less and feels better.
Not appreciated by most is the fact that we do better if we have a ‘reset’ day once a week when missing a meal or eating less really does do us good. A breakfast of mixed ripe fruit, nuts, dried fruit and seeds is super-charged with digestive enzymes and is very cleansing. Others may do well on a high protein breakfast. The common default breakfast of cereals or toast is not good as it gives a roller-coaster surge of insulin with a soon-to-follow emptiness. Lunch of a good protein and green vegetable or salad (but not lettuce as this is a sedative and it will make one sleepy) will provide a clear head for the afternoon whilst a small evening meal including starches such as rice or potatoes will assist with relaxation and sleep. 

Once our digestive system is calmer and free from bloating we will soon come to select foods on an intuitive basis to bring better health and weight management.
All of this should be joyful and not fastidious. Once you are an established intuitive eater and see and feel the benefits, it is good to break out and have a binge because this is not a ‘ball and chain’ or  cult – but you will soon be back on track – out of choice!

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