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Gentle Nutrition: End Dieting, Find Variety with Intuitive Eating

Last week, we talked about satisfaction being a necessary part of intuitive eating. Discovering which foods we actually enjoy can help us tune into what feels just right for our mind and bodies.

As a dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor, I often encourage my clients to experiment with variety when letting go of dieting and/or disordered eating. Intuitive eating is all about exploring a wide variety of foods and food groups, to help you discover which foods are satisfying and pleasurable. It will take some time, patience and lots of learning experiences until you feel comfortable enjoying foods previously forbidden, and come to learn which foods you most enjoy.

Experimenting with Variety Might Feel Taboo!

When first embracing intuitive eating, it is common to choose heavier, more “fun foods” that you would NEVER allow yourself to eat in the past! Your variety might come as an assortment pack of chips, or a variety of ice cream flavors! I find that my clients eventually come back to balanced plates (meals with a combination of proteins, fruits and veggies, dairy, fats and grains), and eat a variety of foods from all the different food groups because they learn it makes them feel good.

We all know that fruits and vegetables (among many other foods) have vitamins, minerals and fiber, that helps the body with digestion and keeps your hair, skin, nails, and immune system healthy. So we know these foods are nutritious, but we don’t want to jeopardize our intuitive eating journey by relying solely on what our brain thinks we “should” eat.


variety is key to our sense of health and well-being

What Can Variety in Meals Look Like?

When figuring out your food preferences, experiment with interesting flavor combinations of foods which sound appealing to you. Perhaps you can look up some new recipes on Pinterest, or ask your dietitian for ideas. I have many new Pinterest Boards, including Recipes for Recovery, which offer many different options. There is no right or wrong way to find variety in your food choices. Some people like to plan meals a week in advance, others prefer to figure their meals out each day. In the end, your body is going to be the ultimate decision maker.  Stay tuned for part 3 of Gentle Nutrition with Healthy/Normal Eating.

Want to learn more about Intuitive Eating and Finding Satisfaction AND Variety in your meals?


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Find easy recipes to promote eating disorder recovery.

Recipes for Eating Disorder Recovery, Fall is Here!

When I (Ashley) first started my journey towards eating disorder recovery, I recall one simple phrase that I thought to myself over and over again: “What the hell do I eat now?”

Having followed various food rules for so long, I was at a point where my brain felt inundated with contradictory, confusing nutrition information. Not only that, but I was just dipping my toes into intuitive eating, a way of eating characterized by tapping into your inner hunger, fullness, and satiety cues to guide eating in a way that works to prevent bingeing and promote wellness; but how was I supposed to eat “intuitively” when starting at the fridge felt like walking into a battlefield? I knew I was supposed to be giving myself unconditional permission to eat all foods, a tenet of the intuitive eating model, but I still held onto so much fear around foods that had felt almost addictive during my eating disorder.


All foods fit in a healthy diet and intuitive eating plan

Gentle Nutrition: End Dieting, Find Satisfaction with Intuitive Eating

Satisfaction is a key part of “gentle nutrition,”  which is why it’s the very last principle of intuitive eating! It takes time and lots of patience to unlearn years of dieting and to fully embrace and respect your body.


There are many ways that diving into nutrition too early can derail your intuitive eating journey. Fears of weight gain, and worries about eating in an “unhealthy” way, lead some people to turn intuitive eating into another diet. Some people try adding rules or restrictions around their food intake in the name of “nutrition,” while others try to avoid weight gain by following what some professionals have called “the hunger and fullness diet.” But these are both diets in disguise, and ways to twist intuitive eating away from its original intentions!


non diet approach helps prevent body shame and negative body image

Kids and Body Shame: Preventing Disordered Eating with Non-diet Approach

As parents, we have to be SO careful about the behaviors we demonstrate in front of children. Kids absorb everything around them, and even subtle diet rules and body shame will seep into their brains, and they will mimic it. We have to do our best to show kids that no foods are “bad”, and that all bodies deserve respect. If we diet in front of our children, we show them that they shouldn’t trust their bodies, and that food is out to get them. Instead, we should be showing them how to trust their internal cues, and to always put their needs above societal expectations.

Non-diet for kids to prevent body image issues


Kids’ Bodies are Ever Changing

As a growing kid, lots of body changes are going to be taking place for your child! This is to be celebrated, rather than micromanaged. If you feel as if maybe your kid’s weight is getting higher than it “should” be, stop for a second! Think about this: do you want them to end up restricting their food, and potentially developing disordered eating habits? Do you want them to be obsessed with what they put in their mouths, and worried about disappointing you if their weight goes up? Navigating body size in your children can be hard. Trust me, I know! We don’t want them to be bullied or to struggle. But it’s important that no matter what, the home is a SAFE space, not a place where they are made to feel ashamed of their size. If you try to intervene, it’s likely to not only make the problem worse, but it will also probably have a negative impact on your relationship with your child. No one wants that!

Be a Role Model for  Your Kids!

Interested in making peace with food, learning more about intuitive eating, rejecting the diet mentality, and finally living your life without obsessing over your weight? As a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor with over 20 years of experience, I bring you the Intuitive Eating Basics 101: Finding Food Peace and Body Freedom Forever online course. Start your journey today!

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Questions or not sure this is right for you?

Intuitive Eating