I had an epiphane in Paris. Something along the lines of: Life is short. Eat the delicious food.
This seems sort of counterintuitive coming from a dietitian, I know. But hold up. Let me explain. I've decided that I am going to partake in a little experiment with trusting my body - listening to the nuances of cravings: chocolate, coffee, arugula, pizza, brussel sprouts, plums, oats. My body is pretty fine tuned to knowing what it wants - and how much it wants to eat.
And it has been SUCH a journey to get to this place. I know people talk about "mindful" or "intuitive" eating like its the easieset thing in the world, "Oh, just stop eating when you're not hungry." And you're standing there, spoon deep in some ice cream, like "UH HUH, EASY FOR YOU TO SAY." For some people it is super easy. And then there's the rest of us.
And, yes, I definitely identify as someone who is not a "naturally" intuitive eater. I have to work on it. Day in and day out.
So how did I find this place? This sane, calm place (that's my best way of describing it) where I am trusting my body and listening to "fullness cues" and "hunger cues?" It sounds so sappy but I started by not judging myself. I stopped beating myself up when I'd eat too many slices of pizza. I stopped getting mad at myself when I'd choose chocolate before bed instead of just hitting the hay when I was tired.
I realized that sometimes eating is actually a MESSAGE your intelligent body is trying to COMMUNICATE with you. Are you eating too much of the delicious, decadent foods too often even though you know better??? It may mean you are STRESSED or LONELY or SAD. Instead of hating yourself for eating a certain way, feel self-compassion that your body is sending you a S.O.S message.
As soon as I realized what was driving the food choices, I started being more proactive about things I could do to manage life stressors. I rearranged my schedule to have more leisure time, I asked people to HELP me when I needed help (this, for me, is very difficult), and I started to express myself - sometimes with tears or sometimes just pen to paper. Again, such a totally wimpy and vulnerable thing to admit, but crying helped me release the tension rather than soothing it with something sweet or salty. I have shifted my focus from dwelling in guilt and self-hatred to focusing on how can I listen closer to my body's distress signals?
Since gaining this clarity, its been really enjoyable to enjoy dessert. I mean really enjoy it. Eat it slowly and taste the delicious flavors and feel my belly fill with the yumminess of its flavor.
The recipes I make at home will remain nutrient dense. I seek out foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals because I am a runner and I want to fuel recovery and decrease inflammation in my hard-working body... and I know that I love healthy foods, and not because they're "healthy" but because they're yummy!
So you can rely on me to continue creating recipes based on real food nutrition, but I also want you to know that I feel no shame in my game when I'm eating legit Brooklyn pizza (gluten, cheese and all!).
Now that we've got that out of the way. Let's talk about these awesome Chocolatey Pumpkin Pie Bars.
Other than the sugar in the chocolate chips (which, if you're CRAZY, you could omit), these bars are SUGAR free, relying soley on fruit to sweeten them!! They are dense, rich and delicious; while also being packed with vitamin A, fiber and medium chain fats. Its sort of exciting to know something so delicious can also be so good for ya!
Chocolatey Pumpkin Pie Bars
yields 12 bars
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 large banana, pureed (mashed well is also fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ cup coconut cream
1/2 cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Enjoy Life! mini chocolate chips *
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8x8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, applesauce, pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, coconut cream and banana.
In a separate medium bowl whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. Distribute evenly in the baking pan and then top with chocolate.
Bake for 20-25 minutes before removing from the oven.
Let the bars cool before cutting them and storing in a covered tupperware in the fridge.
* skip the chocolate chips if you'd like to make this refined sugar free!
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