At long last, here’s part 3 of my series on eating, calories and why we can’t always rely on an external number to tell us how much to eat.
So I’ve already hinted a couple of times at what part three might entail. Let me introduce me to intuitive eating.
Is the opposite of dieting. In diet land we might look to external rules to tell us how much to eat such as calories, points, blocks. Intuitive eating instead encourages us to look within ourselves and use our own internal cues of hunger and fullness to guide us in knowing when and how much to eat.
But I can’t possibly trust myself, I’ll stuff myself silly and gain weight!
Amazingly our bodies are equipped to be able to tell us how much we need to eat. If they didn’t we would have died out years and years ago! Just think, our paeloithic ancestors didn’t need to count calories or points to know how much to eat, they just knew.
You CAN trust yourself to know how much to eat. You might have had years of people and companies telling you that you can’t. That your hunger signals are wrong and bad and that indulging in them is shameful and gluttonous. That giving in to these signals will mean you balloon out to an embarrassing size that society will ever laugh at you for while you remain single, friendless and unhappy.
Feeling hungry is not a sign that your body is broken. It’s simply your body’s way of letting you know it needs some more energy to perform at its best. So how does one go about starting to eat intuitively? I’ve got the basic below in just two easy steps.
Tune in to your hunger and fullness cues.
What do they feel like? Do you know what they feel like? If you’ve had a difficult relationship with food in the past or have been dieting for a long time you may not be able to feel or know what hunger and fullness feel like to you. That’s perfectly okay.
There are online tools and worksheets that can help you map out what hunger and fullness feels like to you. And the cool thing about these is that there are no hard and fast rules here. You get to decide how hungry you want to be before you start eating. You also get to decide how full you’d like to feel when you finish.
If the online tools aren’t helpful to you in determining when you’re hungry, you might like to go and see a dietitian who can explore this further with you.
Begin to think about what will satisfy your hunger. Sometimes this is referred to as ‘building a bank’ of eating experiences. This allows you to tune in, get curious and explore your eating and your habits. The idea is that by experimenting with what makes you feel full and satisfied you’ll be able to ‘bank’ that experience for the next time.
For example, if you’re starving and reach for some nuts you might notice they fill you up for a little while. The next time you’re starving you remember that nuts didn’t keep you going for very long so you eat a sandwich. Combining this with eating mindfully is going to help you take care of your self and it’s going to help you develop a relaxed approach to food.
If these first two steps have piqued your interest or you would like additional resources you could:
These resources are all made by Dietitians who are passionate about helping you get off the dieting merry go round to create a relaxed relationship with food. You might also like to book an appointment with a Dietitian who specialises in the non diet approach
photo credit: Matthias Mueller