Our culture is obsessed with dieting! We see and hear messages everywhere telling us what and how to eat. In this weeks post we want to help give you some information about how you can let go of dieting, and start eating intuitively. Intuitive eating is basically listening to your body and eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. We are all born with an ability to regulate hunger and satiety. For many the natural ability to do this has been halted by outside forces such as a parent regularly forcing their child to finish all the food on their plate or an adult following the latest diet craze after diet craze. Most talk shows and popular magazines tell us how we should be eating by providing us with a lot of food rules and myths. They are not teaching us how to listen to our body. It is important to develop a healthy relationship with food and your body. This can be achieved through following the intuitive eating principles below, which have been adapted from www.intuitiveeating.com.
THE PRINCIPLES OF INTUITIVE EATING
EAT WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY - Do not wait until you are too hungry. This increases the desire to overeat and makes it harder to listen to what your body is telling you. At meal times try and have meals that are well balanced with protein, fats and carbohydrates to nourish the body and provide greater satiety.
STOP LABELLING FOODS AS GOOD AND BAD - You need to give yourself unconditional permission to eat. This can be scary, especially for people with disordered eating, as many feel once this permission is granted then they will not be able to stop eating. The opposite is actually true. It is the foods that we do not let ourselves eat or limit that we desire and crave and are more likely to overeat. Once these foods are allowed and legalized, their desirability lessens over time.
STOP DIETING/ RESTRICTING. DIETS DO NOT WORK - Let go of all the harmful diet mentality that you have acquired over the years. Diets can be harmful and actually increase the likelihood of developing an eating disorder. The body cannot survive well on a restricted intake; metabolism slows down, which ultimately leads to gaining the weight back. Many hold onto the belief that the next diet will be the one that will work for them. It is time to be free from this false belief and start believing in your body's natural ability to protect you from weight fluctuations.
STOP EATING WHEN YOU ARE FULL - For many this is hard as they often do not take the time to listen to their body when they are eating. Slow down. Take your time to eat your meals and snacks. Enjoy every bite. Be aware of your surroundings and yourself while you are eating. In the middle of the meal or snack, take a minute to check in with yourself and see how you are doing. Ask yourself; how is the food tasting? Am I still enjoying it? Am I still hungry for more? Checking in with yourself allows you to stop before you get overly full. It is important to continue eating if you are not satisfied by your meal or snack. Restricting or keeping yourself 'safe' at meals and/or snacks will increase the desire to overeat later.
STOP USING FOOD TO DEAL WITH EMOTIONS - Food is meant to nourish your body, mind and soul. It will not fix any of the emotions or situations that may arise. In fact using food to deal with emotions will ultimately make you feel worse. The initial problem that caused the emotional eating has not been dealt with and continues to linger and the discomfort from overeating is not pleasant.
BELIEVE IN YOUR BODY - Trying to maintain unrealistic size and weight goals will ultimately compromise the health of your body, mind and soul. We are all born with a different genetic makeup. It is unrealistic for a person with a size 8 foot to expect to wear a size 5 shoe so why have these unrealistic expectations for your body. Being overly critical about your body's size and shape makes it hard to let go of the diet mentality. Treat your body with respect. This will help to improve how you feel about yourself as well.
GET MOVING FOR THE RIGHT REASONS - Physical activity is an excellent way to improve overall health and well being, however it is also something that is often abused. Stop focusing on the calories burned but rather how it feels to move your body. You should be invigorated after physical activity rather than exhausted. Be active because you want to and it feels great, not because you have to.
HEALTH - Many are concerned that if they eat what they want they will compromise their health. It is what you eat over time that matters most rather than individual meals and snacks. Intuitive eating allows you to focus on what it is that you want and desire as well as taking into account how to maintain the health of the body. It is still important to provide a balanced eating approach with a wide variety of foods to ensure that you are meeting your nutritional requirements.
For many the basic principles of intuitive eating are anything but basic. This is an ability that we are born with that can be relearned. It takes time and patience. There is no perfect way to eat. You are the only one that knows your body and what it likes so there is no better time than today to start learning what that truly is.
If you are interested in more information on intuitive eating please check out www.intuitiveeating.com.