*(Paid Partnership with Daiya, all opinions are my own)
I often get asked if it's possible to be an intuitive eater with food sensitivities.
The short answer is yes.
I have a sensitivity to dairy products (butter seems to be fine but cheese or milk, forget about it. I'll have an upset stomach and likely be in the bathroom later) and yet, I am absolutely an intuitive eater with a normal relationship with food.
This is why I use dairy alternatives like Daiya, which is my favorite vegan cheese brand (more on that later)!
The Power of Choice
First thing to understand is that regardless of your food sensitivities you really CAN eat the foods that you are allergic or sensitive too.
I am not saying there is not a consequence, you might feel like crap or get sick, but you are totally capable of putting the foods in your mouth. (more on that here)
Fundamentally, we always have a choice, and when we operate from the place of "I can't eat that" we wire ourselves to want it more.
Imagine there is a child in a room filled with toys. You are also in the room but you are on your cell phone. It doesn't matter how cool those toys are, typically that child wants the one thing "he can't have"... he wants the cell phone.
No matter how mature and grown up we are, we are pretty much the same. The second you take away your power of choice by saying "I can't have it" you want it more.
It's human nature.
So we have to change our mindset around the food.
SIDE NOTE* Mindset Effects Digestion
"40%-60% of digestion takes place in the brain" - Jessica Rothley, EPC
On episode 4 of the Love Your Bod Pod, Jessica talks about how our thoughts effect digestion and when we are stressed out about food we are more likely to be bloated and have GI issues.
I am not going to dive too deep into that in this post but a lot of your digestive issues could be a result of your anxiety and stress around food. To learn more check out episode 4 #LYBP. :)
Physical and Emotional Restriction
Second, I always preach the importance of ending restriction and deprivation, because restriction of any kind leads to binge eating. So if you have a legitimate health concern that requires you to "restrict" a food, you might think this is impossible.
But I am sure you know someone (me, Cara) who can eliminate a food for health reasons and not binge eat, so how do they do it?
The difference between someone who can "not eat" a food for health reasons and a person who always seems to binge on that food regardless of their sensitivities/allergies, is a direct result of the meaning they attach to themselves for eating that food.
And the meaning you attach is directly correlated to the level of mental and emotional restriction present.
If you "allow" yourself to eat a food on a deep emotional level (meaning you believe it's okay for you to eat), you likely do not binge eat that food.
If on an emotional level you "don't allow" it by thinking you can't or shouldn't eat that food (meaning you don't believe it's okay for you to eat), you likely binge on it.
Let me explain what that looks like for a normal eater and an emotional/binge eater:
Normal Eater with Food Sensitivities
A normal eater might have a sensitivity to gluten and dairy but they don't beat themselves up if they end up having a slice of pizza. They proceed to eat the pizza, enjoy it and then....METAPHORICAL PERIOD.
They move on with their life because it's no big deal.
They attach no further meaning onto themselves except that they will probably feel like crap for a bit.
Emotional/Binge Eater with Food Sensitivities
Now if you are an emotional eater or a binge eater, you might be in the same situation but the internal monologue in your brain is wildly different.
Not only do you probably tell yourself you "can't" eat pizza, if you break your "food rule" and eat pizza, you feel really bad about yourself
You make it mean that you've failed in some way, you're out of control and typically have shame/guilt/anxiety likely linked to your weight and body size. (ex. bloating makes you look fat, so you feel insecure)
That shameful meaning you attached is the difference between having a slice of pizza and having the entire pizza pie.
Because physically putting a food in your mouth is not the same thing as being "okay" with putting it in your mouth on a mental and emotional level. (more on that here)
Emotional and mental restriction is way harder to let go of because it's not on the surface like the food is. It's deep within us.
When we are truly able to let go of the fact that we ate gluten and dairy, and don't attach further meaning to it, we don't end up binge eating all the things.
You might be wondering how to get to that place, of breaking the "food rule" and not making it mean anything...
Since most of our shame and guilt around food is really just shame and guilt around our body, our ability to eliminate a food for health reasons is correlated to our level of trust and acceptance of our body.
I am sensitive to dairy and I choose not to eat it so I don't feel bad, which is very different than choosing not to eat it because I think I am bad if I do.
Looking at it that way, I want to feel good, (not be good or look good) so I opt for dairy free alternatives like Daiya instead of dairy cheese. I get all the same satisfaction and enjoyment while still honoring my health and cravings.
Since fall is in full swing, I have been all about comfort food. And few things scream comfort like Mac n Cheeze.
My boyfriend agreed and said he liked it wayyyyy more than Velveeta. True story.
It's super quick to make, about 10 minutes from start to finish, which I love for a quick weeknight meal. I added in some sauteed kale, topped with chili powder and loaded on the green onions.
All in all, it was a delicious meal, that honored my taste buds and my body!
If you have further questions about food sensitivities and a disordered relationship with food, send me a DM.
And be sure to check out Daiya's Mac n Cheese, it's #comfortfoodthatlovesyouback