What Nutritional Phase Are You In?

A few years ago, I experienced a rather traumatic breakup. For months, my diet consisted mainly of banana bread, peanut-butter toast, pasta, cookies and wine. I couldn't stomach anything fresh, let alone gather enough energy or desire to cook a real meal. Naturally, I was craving these foods because they gave me the comfort and mood boost (albeit temporary) I so desperately needed.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I was experiencing a nutritional phase. Just as you move through different life phases, you also move through different nutritional phases. And, your relationship with food always mirrors your relationship with life.

Gaining a better understanding of the various nutritional phases leads to a more insightful, trusting, compassionate and relaxed relationship with food, your body and your behavior. A completely natural part of life, a nutritional phase can last for any length of time, and only becomes problematic if you dwell in it for too long.

Here's a brief overview of a few of the nutritional phases:

Cleansing

  • An instinctive urge to "clean house" - i.e., cleanse your body and your life
  • Detoxification of your diet, body and life by eliminating all the junk, toxins, excess and energy drainers
  • Yearn for renewal, lightness, purity and clarity
  • May consist of eating clean, simple foods; juicing; fasting; removing stimulants and depressants (e.g., sugar, caffeine, alcohol); or following a raw or vegan diet
  • Often mirrors a desire to release a toxic relationship, unsatisfying job, bad living situation, home clutter, old habits and beliefs, etc.

Building

  • A need to build, strengthen and ground your body and being
  • Attracted to denser foods like meat, fish, oils, nuts and nut butter
  • Engage in intense exercise and muscle-building activities
  • Increased energy; feel "pumped up"
  • Larger appetite and capacity to eat more without gaining weight or adverse side effects
  • Corresponds with a hunger for growth and expansion in all areas of life; a desire to live fully and feel big, strong, rooted and powerful in your relationships, work, community, etc.

Emotional

  • What you eat is entirely driven by your emotions
  • No matter how much your inner nutritionist knows, your feelings dictate your food choices
  • Often the most challenging of all the phases and easiest to get stuck in
  • Rather than fight it, it's often necessary to accept and surrender to it, no matter how irrational it may seem, without judgment, shame or guilt
  • Engage in other life pursuits that feed and relieve uncomfortable emotions such as drinking, overworking, sleeping, shopping, video gaming, TV watching, etc.

(This is the phase I was in during my heartbreak diet days)

Fanatic/Fundamentalist

  • Rigidly follow a very specific, tightly controlled diet and/or supplement regime
  • Usually tied to an intense desire for health, weight loss or disease prevention or curing
  • Requires commitment, discipline and whole-heartedness
  • Although a natural, necessary phase, can alienate friends and family
  • Mirrors a narrowness, rigidness or quest for perfectionism, certainty or control in other life realms such as relationships, home environment, exercise, work, etc.

Can you relate to any of these phases? Are you experiencing one of them right now? Is it still working for you or is it time to move on?

Of course, nothing is black and white. A particular phase might be slightly different for you. And, there are many other phases as well from Healing to Anything Goes. It can be fascinating, enlightening and quite freeing to understand the role they've played over the course of your life. If you're interested in learning more, just give me a shout.

Source:  Institute for the Psychology of Eating