Intuitive Eating: Life lessons from 85 year old Lydia

lydia2Lydia is my adopted Swiss-German aunt, someone I have had the pleasure of knowing all of my life.

At 85, she embodies the very notion of living in harmony with her body and spirit. She finds simple pleasures in life in a way few people are able to. When it comes to food, she is naturally attuned to her body in a way that I believe is possible for all of us to learn. I find that she is a wonderful example of intuitive eating.

For this reason, I wanted to share a little of Lydia’s philosophy in an interview I did with her in Bern on how she eats and lives.

How would you describe your relationship to food?

When I eat, I am directed by things I like to eat because they make me feel good and happy. It’s that simple. If something is very healthy but I dislike it, I don’t eat it. And if something is unhealthy but makes me happy on some level, I try to eat it in moderation because I know that if I eat too much of it, I will feel bad.

I also think it is important to eat what is healthy without being a fanatic. If I am invited somewhere, I will mostly eat what is served, except certain meats. It’s important to stay realistic.

What eating guidelines do you live by?

I try to eat a great variety of food and the best quality possible. I eat lots of vegetables, whole grain cereals, fruits and nuts every day – I find that walnuts and almonds are especially good for me!

I try to eat very lightly in the evening, just soup or bouillon or yoghurt as I find that this is what works best for me.

Do you have any weaknesses when it comes to food?

I love sweet things! I try not to exaggerate though. I often have a cup of black or green tea after lunch with good quality dark chocolate. I often buy the best quality chocolate from a confiserie – one for each day of the week.  On the weekend, I take great pleasure in buying a piece of quality cake which I fully enjoy.

Do you enjoy cooking?

I am not a great cook, I must say. I like to cook, but it is done in a very simple way. I don’t like to spend so much time in the kitchen.

How do you eat your meals when you are alone?

I take great pleasure in eating and I make sure I don’t have any distractions like TV when I eat. Sometimes I will call my sister to tell her I ate something fantastic, just to ‘share’ the meal with someone though!

What is the link between what you eat and how you feel?

Body and spirit go together. We need to eat a balanced diet, because otherwise, how can our spirit be balanced? You also don’t love yourself if you are harming yourself with too much food.

Food is a wonderful part of life but it isn’t my priority. Spirituality, work that gives satisfaction, people I love and who love me back, being joyful – these are all very important for me.

So where do you find joy?

Everywhere! You have to walk through life with open eyes and look for little things that bring you joy.

And be grateful. People who give thanks for what they have are more joyful.


Things that give me joy:

Having hope for the future. Having a key to my home – a cosy flat I love. Meeting with people at church. Talking to my family and friends. The 93 year old lady I help with her grocery shopping. Going to the market every week and buying fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating good food every day. Reading. Singing. Walking in nature. Feeding the birds in the winter. Playing the piano or guitar every day. Praying as soon as I wake up and being thankful for sleep, life and a new day. My patchwork group which has allowed me to feel productive since retiring. Being able to give to others.

We should also not forget to laugh, even at ourselves. I laugh even when I am by myself and I break something. Nothing is too serious.

Without joy life is too sad to live!