This includes principles to learn how to eat mindfully.
We need to understand that food is a positive opportunity to nurture our bodies.
The food we consume contains nutrients that are ESSENTIAL for survival.
Food doesn’t just sit in our bodies. It goes through many processes in digestion to be absorbed as nutrients that support and keep us alive.
These nutrients support our bodies by ensuring it functions normally and prevents diseases.
If you’re like me, this can be difficult at first. I use to focus SO much the calories of food and ate as little as I can. I refused “high sugar” or “high fatty foods”, often giving excuses on why I didn’t want it. This includes avocados, nuts, nut butters or oils because they were too “high in calories”. I wouldn’t even allow myself to eat any bites of sweets such as cookies, donuts, brownies or any sweet treats I viewed as a “bad food”. I felt so much guilt if I did try a bite. Mentally, I felt like I would gain a bunch of weight even after eating ONE SINGLE COOKIE. This caused me to overexercise by spending hours at the gym to work it off. Looking back, I saw food and exercise as negatives. I didn’t see it as enjoyment. I saw it as punishment. I thought it would make me happy but IT DIDN’T. It pulled me away from a lot of social situations I could’ve enjoyed if I developed this intuitive eating mindset earlier on. This is why I want to address the importance of intuitive eating and how you can have ALL FOODS FIT. I’ve gone through this in the past… so by sharing my experience, I hope I can help you out too! <3 There is a way out. By taking small steps, you are making progress!
I’ve been reading the book Intuitive Eating and I recommend it to anyone! I work in a Eating Disorder treatment center and the dietitians at my work go through this book and a workbook with my patients.
I’m going to through sections in the book and touch upon the importance of specific points! I will be sharing and writing more other posts on this book. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. You have to read it. It’ll change your perspective and possibly your life!
1. Prevent any “dieting” methods.
The process of dieting makes food the enemy instead of something that fuels you. Dieting makes you feel guilty when you aren’t eating “diet-type” foods. Dieting also slows down your metabolism. Basically, dieting DOES NOT work. Fad diets don’t work – at least not long term. Dieting will make you feel stuck and frustrated. The harder you try to diet, the more problems you will try to run into. Instead, focus on eating an overall healthy and balanced diet. Know what foods are healthy and good for you – emphasize on those because they provide your body the nutrition it needs. But don’t forget about those favorite homemade cookies or baked brownie recipe handed down from grandma! Don’t resist, just enjoy in moderation. You want to learn how to TRUST yourself with food. You deserve to eat. Tell yourself, you deserve it!
2. Honor your hunger.
You need to keep your body fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. If you feel yourself getting hungry, eat. It may sound easier than it sounds but it’s extremely important to honor this biological signal that your body is telling you. This includes building trust with yourself and food. If you starve yourself, you will trigger a tendency to overeat. When you reach a level of excessive hunger, you will likely want to eat whatever is placed in front of you as fast as you can. This is not mindful or intuitive eating. Feel food about eating when you are hungry. Be happy your body wants fuel to keep you alive!
3. Make peace with food.
STOP THE FOOD FIGHT. Don’t tell yourself you can have this food but can’t have that food. Don’t label foods as “untouchable”. Deprivation will make you develop uncontrollable cravings leading to binging or overeating. Don’t deprive yourself with foods. Listen to your hunger and fullness signals and don’t restrict on foods you like. Eat what appeals to you. You can and will find the freedom of making peace with food 🙂
4. Challenge the food police.
Do you hear a voice in your head that constantly tells you “no” to certain types of foods and makes you feel overly anxious? Do you hear a voice in your head that tells you not to eat anything else for the rest of the day because you had some cookies earlier? These are unreasonable rules that dieting created. Learn to talk back to the inner critical voices in your head. Don’t allow those voices to restrict your food intake. The most important is to listen to your hunger and fullness signals. Food nurtures you.
5. Feel your fullness.
Instead of scarfing all your food down, eat mindfully and chew. Take appropriate sized bites and listen to your body signals that tell you it’s not hungry anymore. It make take some practice to not confuse fullness signals with anxiety for those who get highly anxious around certain foods. Pause in the middle of a meal or snack and appreciate the food in front of you, understand how it tastes and how it is a positive opportunity to give your body the proper nutrition it needs.
6. Discover the satisfaction factor.
Eating should be a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Don’t allow those inner thoughts tell you otherwise. Eating is not a punishment, working out is not a punishment. They are both ways to take care of your body in a healthy way. The satisfaction factor is truly eating what you want and having pleasure by doing so. For example, if you want a chocolate chip cookie – eat the chocolate chip cookie you’re craving. Don’t go for the low-fat + low-sugar substitute of a chocolate chip cookie. Alternative food choices often don’t lead you to feeling satisfied. Eating what you want will be powerful in helping you feel satisfied and content. You will realize that a chocolate chip cookie will satisfy you WAY MORE compared to the low-fat + low-sugar chocolate chip cookie.
7. Cope with your emotions without using food.
You can distract, comfort and resolve issues in life without food! There are times where you’re feeling sad and an ice cream sounds nothing but perfection. However, if it’s a recurring theme of you resorting to food out of emotions, it’s a problem to be addressed. Anxiety, boredom and loneliness are all emotions that food will not fix. It may be a short term fix but it will not solve the problem. In the end, you will still have the problem itself and also the discomfort of overeating. Instead, learn to savor the foods you choose and eat in a inviting supportive environment. Eating urges and emotional urges are different.
8. Respect your body.
When you want to make changes, do it with the intention of loving yourself and becoming a better you. Don’t do it because you hate yourself. It is difficult the reject the restriction or diet mentality when you are overcritical with yourself. Learn to love yourself now AND in the duration of your progress. The more you make negative comments about your body, the harder the process. We are all on our own journeys and they should NOT be compared. Respect your own body and it’s inner cues instead of any external forces.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
9. Exercise and feel the difference.
This one hits home for me. I use to overexercise. Ever since I shifting my mentality of exercise from punishment to focusing on how I feel – my life changed! Just be active and feel the different. “Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise”. Focus on how you feel energized after that run or how a quick morning walk makes you feel more refreshed then ever. If your only goal is to lose weight and burn a high number of calories, it will easily go downhill from there. Focus on how your body feels, how you’re getting stronger and the good things that come out of exercise!
10. Honor your health.
Make food choices that honor your health but also satisfy your taste buds. Earlier, I mentioned to eat food that you crave. This doesn’t mean your entire diet is going to be cookies, cakes and etc. Remember, everything in moderation! You do not need a perfect diet to be healthy. “You will not get a sudden nutrient deficiency, or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating”. Overall, it’s consistency and what you eat overtime. Honor your taste buds but honor your health! It’s called balance!
By learning these principles of Intuitive Eating, you’ll realize how ALL FOODS FIT!! You can and will find your food freedom 🙂