We are what we eat. This adage is so simple yet so profound. How we eat is a huge reason behind why we look and feel the way we do. For most of us, it is the culmination of overeating, undereating, and eating the wrong food at the wrong time that has always kept our ideal body away from us. We are not attuned to our own body at all, and the most common method adopted by millions of people to lose weight- dieting- keeps us even more unaware of what our system really needs.
To truly become stronger, healthier and toned physically, you need to practice Intuitive eating.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy which reinforces a healthy relationship between your food, mind and your body. The goal here is to master the art of being in sync with what your body wants. Many of us use food to satisfy an emotional need, which creates an unhealthy cycle eating whenever you want to relax or not think about something. The approach of intuitive eating helps us identify our physical and emotional feeling that govern our eating habits.
It makes you get attuned with the cues or signals given to you by our body. As we stand right now, there are many factors like a stressful day, poor self control, low confidence, low self worth, lack of healthy coping skills etc, that forms barriers which then prevents us from truly hearing our body’s needs. Intuitive eating resolves that problem.
How can you eat intuitively to lose weight?
- There is nothing off limits- What we resists, tempts us…and it keeps tempting us till we give into those desires. When there is no food that is forbidden, that temptation dissipates. There is no war between your mind and the food, with your mind constantly trying to resist the luring tactics of that creamy and delicious tub of cookie dough ice cream. It is about making peace with your food. By adopting this approach of no restriction you will soon become habituated to that food item, and realize that maybe it wasn’t so delicious as you once thought it was. In other words, it would soon lose its luster for you.
- Honor and acknowledge your first cue of hunger- Overeating happens when you continuously ignore your body’s plea for nourishment, until you reach the point where without energy you are unable to perform the task in front of you, or even think straight. Then you overeat and consume everything in sight, and the practice of mindful eating is thrown out of the window. Your body needs to be able to trust you that you will provide it with food in a consistent manner. You should acknowledge the first gentle cue of your body telling you that your energy quota needs refilling. Also, do remember that if you skip meals continually, your body will start to store fat to reserve fuel, which is not what you want if you plan on losing weight.
- Remove “DIET” from your vocab- Diet enforces all the wrong principles that are not only difficult to follow but it pulls you into this self destructive cycle were with each failure of a diet program, your psychological and physical health gets a little bit more scarred. Starvation is not the right way to lose weight. Going on extreme and dangerous diet is not the right way to make your body trust your decisions. The only way to become attuned to your inner health is by eliminating the desire to find a miracle pill.
- Stop when you are full- This step can take a little time to master, but it can do wonders for your weight. But the way to do this is to be aware while you eat. In general, your stomach is capable of storing up to 4 liters. But that is not where the feeling of satiety comes from. The feeling of fullness is actually generated by your brain when it reacts to certain chemicals and hormones with is synthesized when food enters your stomach. It can take your brain up to 20 minutes to be aware of this signal. Pay attention to your body when you eat. When the feeling transitions from emptiness to a slight pressure in your stomach, stop eating.
- Eating is not just an act- Rather, it is an experience. To feel content and satisfied after eating, it is important to pay attention to your ambience. Eating in an environment that brings forth positive feelings, be it by eating with a good friend, or eating on a nice colored plate, or having your surroundings look beautiful, all of these can help you feel satisfied way before your spoon scoops up that last bit of rice. Also, know that research shows food color and presentation matters too.
I kept the most important one till the last. Be kind to yourself. When you are kind to yourself, you will start respecting your body. Don’t entertain unrealistic expectations of fitting a size zero jeans in a week or even in months. Intuitive eating is about honoring your body, your health and most importantly YOURSELF.
I hope this article encouraged you enough to give the practice of intuitive eating a go. If anyone has already tried it, please share your experience with us below.