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What Is Intuitive Eating, Anyway?

One fitness maven’s perspective on food

If you’ve scrolled through Insta lately (or ever), you know that food is big news, alongside self-care and puppies. It’s a thing, an ever-evolving relationship that we talk about, think about, love, want, and try to control. But in today’s era of never-ending diets that promise one thing or another, the latest in eating is simple, and it’s intuitive. Because diets are tricky and can lead to an endless cycle of more dieting instead of merely eating well, embracing local food, and loving yourself. Trouble is, sometimes it can be hard to know what to eat, when to eat or how best to eat.

Therefore, when chatting with the founder of The Sculpt Society, Megan Roup, we asked, 'what, when, and how do you eat?' After an unobtainable quest for perfectionism and yo-yo dieting in her 20s, Megan learned to nourish her body intuitively. With a focus on balance, whole ingredients, and treating herself whenever the mood strikes, this fitness phenom shares her approach to food. And cupcakes.


HOW HAS BODY IMAGE AND EATING EVOLVED FOR YOU OVER THE YEARS?

For years I struggled with body image and feeling confident. I tortured myself at the gym and experimented with every diet. The truth is, I didn’t like myself that much, and it showed. If you saw photos from back then, you wouldn’t recognize me.

Since then two significant shifts happened. First, I discovered a way to move in my body that was fun which led me to develop my dance resistance method.

Second, I shifted the way I look at food and became more intuitive. Plus, I let go of any particular diet and began trusting myself around food. I learned to listen when my body was hungry or full and honor that. Those two tweaks completely altered my perspective and how I saw myself, allowing me to feel my best.

INTERESTING! WHAT DOES EATING INTUITIVELY MEAN?

I listen to what my body is asking for, when it is asking and aim to fuel myself with real whole food every day. For so long I looked at food as the enemy. And it’s not. Now, I see it as nourishing my body. That said, I’m not perfect and there are no rules. I do my best to stay away from white flour and sugar, but from time to time I have a cupcake! Some mornings I have green juice and others I don't. I also drink beer. Looking at food in a more relaxed way, ultimately has led to less craving, “healthy” substituting and bingeing.

WHAT LED YOU TO MAKE THESE CHANGES?

I finally hit rock bottom. I was sick of obsessing every second of every day about what I looked like or what I was eating. There was a time when I would go to the gym for 2 to 3 hours fixated on burning “X” amount of calories on the treadmill. When I discovered how to move my body in a way that felt good and gave me results at the same time, something clicked! But, it didn’t happen overnight, the change came slowly. Same for my relationship with food. Learning to trust myself to make the right decision, happened over time. I know enough about nutrition to make reasonable choices regarding food, but tuning into my body to know whether I’m eating because I’m hungry (healthy or not) versus because I’m anxious or trying to avoid dealing with a problem was a process. It still happens from time to time, but now I have the tools to pivot quickly.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHIES?

I’m a big believer in moderation. Stressing about anything, even if it is healthy, is not ok and unsustainable in the long term. Any time you take an entire food group out of your diet, or overcompensate in one area because you’re lacking in another, your system suffers.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with food combining, which is not a diet but rather an order in which to eat based on how our bodies breakdown different foods. I’m not strict about it, but when I do eat this way, I notice I feel better.

The basics: vegetables are neutral and go with everything, avoid combining protein with carbs, and have fruit in the morning on an empty stomach. For example, I am having eggs and salad right now, which works perfectly, but eggs and toast together are less ideal. Avocados and toast, on the other hand, are lovely to have together. Fruit, carbs (like grains and starchy veggies) and proteins vary in the amount of time and the enzymes each take to digest in our system. Knowing which combinations are optimal for digestion can be beneficial since our body breaks down different foods at different rates. It's not about eliminating, it's about timing.

My parents are South African, so we grew up on a Mediterranean diet. My mom was really ahead of her time and I have been eating Ezekiel bread since I was two! Plus, sourdough is a good option as it’s not overly processed and has a low glycemic index, which means it doesn’t spike your blood sugar.

Lastly, I love bone broth, especially in the winter. Brodo is one of my faves. I often grab one in the afternoon instead of having another coffee. The warmth makes me feel satisfied.

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