I used intuitive eating to quit dieting forever.
But there was a time when I couldn’t even imagine not being on a diet.
I was always unhappy with my body.
Always thinking about what I was going to eat next, always trying to fight cravings and recover from binges.
And although I for sure still have days where I would like my body to look different, the difference between that girl 10 years ago and me now is staggering. I can honestly say I don’t think about food all the time, I rarely have super negative self talk going on (can’t say never, but rarely) and my cravings are almost non existent (unless I’m super tired).
Diets don’t work.
If they did, then there would be no obesity epidemic and everyone would be exactly the size they want to be. There sure isn’t a shortage of diets to try out there!
But they don’t work.
And initiative eating does.
Why Don’t Diets Work
There are some alarming stats in the world of dieting…
- The World Health Statistics show that 95% of dieters regain the weight loss back (and then some) in 15 years after their diet.
- Girls in their teens who start to diet are three times more likely to be overweight (Journal of the American Dietetic Association).
- The Boston Medical Center shows that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year.Over 80 percent of 10year old girls are afraid of being fat. (The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing)
- A team of UCLA researchers reviewed 31 long term studies on the effectiveness of dieting and found that dieting actually was a predictor of weight gain. Yup, their conclusion one third to twothirds of dieters regained more weight than they lost.
- Dieting puts all the focus on food. If I tell you NOT to think of a pink elephant, what pops into your head? Well, of course, a HUGE pink elephant. Research has shown dieting is associated with increased food preoccupation, binge eating, and eating in the absence of hunger.
- Furthermore, dieting appears to be causally linked to both obesity and eating disorders
Have you heard some of these results in the media? Share with me in the comments below what your thoughts are on dieting’s dark success rates.
Now, just because dieting does not work, does not mean we can not loose weight. I believe you can (if that is your goal).
Let us ask you this…
- How would your eating habits change if you worked with your body vs. against it?
- Would loving your body (no matter the size) impact the way you feed it?
- What if you took the focus off weight and onto feeling great through lifestyle habits?
- We would love for you to take some time this week and notice, how do you talk to and about
- your body? Are you connected or disconnected? Are you friends or enemies? Are you working
together or a part?
This all impacts our health habits, weight and ultimately our happiness.
What Is Intuitive Eating
Imagine a world where you ate whatever you wanted, stopped eating when you were full and never had cravings or binges.
And you maintained a healthy weight because you didn’t actually want the junk food. You actually enjoyed eating healthy foods.
This could be you.
I can honestly say that I enjoy eating healthy food. I prefer it. Junk food just makes me feel sluggist, anxious, tired, and after a while it just doesn’t taste that good.
Except cookies and cream ice cream.
That always tastes good 🙂
So what is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods.
But this is really hard to do when you are eating junky food, highly processed and full of sugar.
If you are eating too much sugar or processed foods or refined carbohydrates then it becomes really hard to listen to your body.
Eating real food and crowding out the junk food is actually one of the first steps in intuitive eating. Right after quitting dieting!
So if you are transitioning from a processed food diet to a real foods diet don’t restrict yourself. Just find a real food version of whatever you love to eat and make it from scratch. There are recipes for almost anything you can imagine, including desserts and if you cant find something just let me know!
A review article by the journal Public Health Nutrition was published about the research on intuitive eating. The article showed that intuitive eating is linked with lower BMI (weight maintenance and lack of weight gain over the years) and better psychological health.
So How Do We Start Intuitive Eating.
The first step is to stop dieting.
No more diets. You are done.
Now my second step is where others who talk about intuitive eating might disagree. Because I think you need to swap out some of the junk food at this stage. I am so all for being able to listen to your body and eat when you are hungry, but if you have been eating a lot of processed foods at this stage it’s going to be hard to determine if you are really hungry.
Each time you are hungry or have a craving however try and figure out what you are really hungry for. Is it food? Or are you bored? Or sad? Or dissatisfied.
Can you try and just sit with these feeling before you fill them with food. Or maybe go and have a hot shower, call a friend or go for a walk.
Next practicing mindful eating is a key part of building the awareness requried to be able to eat intuitively.
Mindful Eating And Intuitive Eating
Bringing your mindfulness practice to the table not only improves the health of your digestive system, but it can also impact your relationship to food and help you practice intuitive eating by increasing awareness and slowing down the eating process.
So what is mindful eating?
Well did you know digestive system actually starts with our nose. When we smell food saliva is produced and our digestive system starts to switch on.
Then, what is the first thing we should do when we begin eating?
CHEW of course! Well, typically, we start shovelling the food in for lack of awareness. This can give our digestive system lots of trouble. Found in our saliva are digestive enzymes, which are important for nutrient absorption. The act of chewing helps to break down the food. The more we can chew the food thoroughly, the more vitamins and minerals we absorb later on down the line. Plus, during the fermenting stage in the large intestine, if particles arrive there still large in size it creates extra gas…. and we all know that is no fun.
When we slow down, chew our food completely and enjoy and appreciate every bite, our digestive system does not have to work as hard.
Tip: Try to chew each bite for 30-50 seconds. Or get in the habit of putting your fork down in between bites.
Tip: Do your best not to eat standing up, in a car, while on the computer or phone. Make time to sit and enjoy the beautiful experience of eating. No distractions!
Bringing more mindfulness to our meals can also prevent us from over eating and help us realise when we are full. Unfortunately, the communication between our belly and our brains takes a bit of time. When we are eating fast, we can miss the full signal, which we may receive about half a plate too late. Take the time to slow down, listen to your body and its hunger signals. This can impact your weight management.
Let me ask you; honestly, what is your relationship to food?
Is it one of balance, ease and enjoyment or is it one of guilt and struggle like mine used to be?
I really do believe that food can be one of the greatest pleasures in life. I mean how lucky are we to be able to enjoy food like we do? It is social, cultural, creative, something we do with the people we love; not to mention, the delight of all the tastes, smells and textures.
As we start to bring our meditation practice to the table we can bring some awareness to our personal relationship to food.
Awareness is where intuitive eating always starts.
Try to notice the following at your next meal. This can help us understand ourselves better.
Sight – Look at your food and imagine you are a martian scientist. You just arrived on Earth and have never seen this food before. Look at it carefully without naming it. Can you see the water, the rain, and the sunlight within the food?
Smell – Bring the food up to your nose. Without naming the scent, experience smelling the food, and then describe what you smell.
Physiological reaction – Now focus on what is going on in your mouth. Begin to notice that saliva is produced, even though you haven’t yet put the food in your mouth. Notice the mind/body phenomenon and how the senses respond to the anticipation of food being eaten.
Touch – Now explore how the food feels. Without naming the sensation, just experience touching your food.
Motion and Movement – How is it that you hand knows how to move the food directly to the lips? As you bring the food up to your mouth, notice what happens next. The mouth receives the food. Nothing goes into the mouth without it being received. And ho or what is doing the receiving? The tongue. Observe what the tongue does with it. How does it get the food between the teeth? It’s amazing that the tongue is so skilled, and that such a remarkable muscle can actually receive food and then know what to do with it every time.
Taste – After becoming aware of the food in your mouth, start biting into it very slowly. Then begin to chew. Notice that the tongue decides which side of the mouth it’s going to chew on. Give all your attention to your mouth and take a few bites. Then stop to experience whats happening. What is happening is invariably and explosion of taste. Express whats going on. Be really specific. What is the experience? Is it sweet or sour or juicy? There are hundreds of words to describe the experience of tasting.
Texture – As you continue to chew the tastes change, as does the consistency. At a certain point you will become aware of the texture of the food because the taste has mostly passed. If the texture causes aversion, you may want to swallow it, but try to keep it in your mouth.
Swallow – Don’t swallow it yet. Stay with the impatience and the inborn impulse to swallow. Do not swallow until you detect the impulse to do so. And then observe what is involved in getting the food over to the place where it’s going to be swallowed. When you detect the impulses to swallow, follow it down into the smash, feel your whole body and acknowledge that your body is now exactly one bite heavier.
Breath – Next, pause for a moment or two, and see if you can taste your breath in a similar way. Bring the same quality or attention to the breath that you gave to seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting the food.
Silence – Be silent. By this point, you underwent something of what meditation and mindful eating is. It is doing what we do all the time except we are doing it with attention. Directed, moment -to-moment, non judgemental attention.
Let me know if you try this exercise in the comments below as well as what you think of intuitive eating. Has it helped you?
To your health,
P.S. I’m running a Valentines Day Special at the moment on all my DNA health testing programs and so if this is something you have been interested in finding out more about Click HERE to schedule in a time to chat to me to find out whether this may be the right option for you.