What does it mean to nourish?
It’s so much bigger than nutrition panels or micronutrients.
It’s about how I’m feeling while I’m eating. It’s about what I’m thinking while I’m eating. And really, it’s even bigger than eating. It’s about living free of obsession or obligation. It’s about permission to feel pleasure and joy without guilt.
Nourishment isn’t some formula you need to memorize. It’s not a formula at all. Like all the great things in life, you cannot put a number on it and you may not be able to put it into words. But you can feel it.
I made this intuitive eating cheat sheet more than a year and a half ago, and I only wish I could have fit a few paragraphs to better define what I meant by “nourish” in one of the boxes.
I don’t equate nourishing to nutritious — and I certainly don’t believe that if something isn’t nutritious, you shouldn’t eat it. I think that the meaning of “nourishment” should be fluid, not fixed, and rely on instincts, rather that rules.
Sometimes nourishing and nutritious overlap — sometimes they don’t! And sometimes, they flip flop back and forth in ways you might not expect. There are so many scenarios in day-to-day life where you get to decide what nourishment means to you. All you need to do is live presently in the moment, and honor your instincts. Here are a few examples:
- You’re at a holiday party with a big spread of delicious goodies. You feel guilty even looking at those things, so you fill your plate with raw vegetables that you actually don’t even like. With every bite of baby carrot, you’re fantasizing about spinach and artichoke dip. Those carrots may be nutritious, but not very nourishing.
- There’s a birthday cake at work for one of your colleagues. Honestly it’s really not very good…dry, flavorless, uninspired. You go on dessert autopilot and eat three slices, even though you’re not particularly enjoying it. Few would argue that chocolate cake is nutritious, but in this scenario, it’s not very nourishing either.
- You’re out for brunch with your best friends and trying to decide what to eat. Maybe brunch is the time you let yourself eat “bad” foods, but looking at the menu, what really, really sounds good right now is a big salad. It’s a nutritious choice, sure, but the point is that it’s the nourishing choice, because it’s what you really want.
- You have a fridge full of beautiful fresh veggies…..and not an ounce of energy to cook them. On those kinds of nights, a frozen pizza is the *~*literal*~* embodiment of nourishment.
Once you give yourself permission to live beyond diet culture’s arbitrary rules, you just might find that you never needed the rules in the first place — you have a little compass inside of you steering you toward nourishment every step of the way.
It’s never, ever too late to start a new chapter with your relationship with food. Here’s to a year of finding what nourishes you, inside and out.