The way we eat is cyclical just like the rest of life- it’s not only ok, but it’s normal!

In my training with the Institute for the Psychology of Eating I have found freedom from my rigid thinking around food and diet. Being trained as a dietitian often had me judging and criticizing myself and others for their food choices. This is not a pleasant or healthy place to live, so to speak.

I’m going to share with you the 11 phases of nourishment that everyone of us will go through in our lifetime. These are not sequential and are not limited to one time use! Much like the seasons that come and go so are these phases of nourishment; they can last for days or months. I want to encourage you to sit back and just take note of where you might be at right now. Embrace it for the time it is showing up in your life and don’t judge yourself for it. Often times where we are at in our relationship with food is where we are at in life. Marc David is my instructor and these are reflections of his that I have adapted to share with you. Powerful stuff lies within these phases. It’s a long read, but I promise it’s going to bless you!
1) Cleansing – a time where we feel the need to “clean house.” We desire renewal. We let go of things that maybe habitual but not serving us- alcohol, sugar, and caffeine, for instance. We may be physically and psychologically letting go and preparing for whatever is next. Cleansing is a spiritual phase.

2) Building- We may be surprised at our appetite and capacity to eat more than usual without gaining extra weight. Strength is increasing, perhaps muscle is being built up. A time in life when we are ready for growth in all areas.

3) Sustaining- This is a time when not much change is taking place. It is not stimulating or exciting. This can be the plateau phase when one is on a weight loss journey. Let go of trying to move out of this phase. It is here to serve a purpose for its time.

4) Emotional- A time when we eat to meet emotional needs despite our inner “nutritionist” telling us to do the right thing. It’s one of the most challenging phases. Relax into it and accept it. If your entire life is about this phase you may consider seeking guidance from someone trained in emotional eating. However, if this phase has arrived for a short season simply embrace it.

5) Celebration- This phase corresponds to a time in our life when we are opening up to more happiness. We might eat forbidden foods or be willing to try new types of food. We desire taste and experiences that food offers. When holidays and vacations come around don’t get into a mindset of fear. Simply enjoy these moments with foods and set some healthy boundaries.

6) Learning- Often times this is the phase where we become nutrition “junkies.” We seek new ways of eating, supplements, and lifestyle approaches. It’s a time where we ask ourselves to be open to new ideas and expand. It’s an exciting time.

7) Fanatic/fundamental- Although this time typically isn’t appealing to family and friends it is natural and necessary. It is often tied to a deeper search for health and well being, or an intense desire for weight loss. It can become a quest for perfectionism if we get stuck in this phase. It shows us how we can become fanatic in other parts of life that have nothing to do with food and health.

8) Death- This is a phase of time where nothing seems to be working, from a diet standpoint. We may feel bored and find that food does not bring enjoyment. Perhaps we are in a time of life where we are sick, depressed, in a personal rut, or maybe have hit a dead end in a job or relationship. It’s a necessary season of the soul. It takes courage to move through this phase. We simply need to endure.

9) Healing- Quite possibly for the first time our eyes may have opened to the power of nutrition. Maybe we have an acute or chronic illness that has us searching for food to become our medicine. This is a vulnerable phase to be in and it can also be one where breakthrough occurs. We learn to put taste preferences 2nd and desire for health becomes 1st.

10) Anything goes- In life this is a time when everything is turned upside down. Our food habits are taking us in unexpected directions. Allow it to pass through.

11) Surrender- We are asked to eat how life wants us to eat not how we would like to eat. Often times this way of eating is surrendered to a financial strain, work or school schedule, etc. It’s a time in life when we are given a big dose of Vitamin H for humility. It’s a time to go with the flow and sacrifice is ok. This phase is asking us to trust in the big picture of life and our God who is truly the only one who can nourish us.

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Amy Harshman

Author: Amy Harshman

Amy has worked as a clinical dietitian for 13 years helping a variety of people with nutrition- including children with disabilities, people with cancer, people with diabetes, and those requiring dialysis for kidney failure.

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