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24 Aug 2017

Intuitive Eating – The Anti-Diet

Intuitive eating – the diet to end all diets.

Intuitive eating has plated a massive role in my health and wellness journey. I'm guilty of eating too quickly, eating to the point of feeling completely stuffed and even eating when I'm not even truly hungry. Sound familiar?

Dieting has never been of interest to me. I'm a complete foodie and love every aspect of meal time from the shopping for groceries and preparing the food to the cooking and eventual eating of the meal. So the thought of restricting myself just sounded sad. Really sad. And I've never thought twice about putting myself through that kind of mental torture. 

Saying that, I've also always had a fairly healthy relationship with my body. So I completely understand that other people may be feeling a little less kind towards their bodies and feel the need to do something drastic for a chance to change the way they look or feel about themselves.

But diets don't work. Not in the long run. And they certainly aren't going to help cultivate a healthy and honest relationship with your body. Intuitive eating will not only help you loose weight or retain a healthy weight, it'll get you back in touch with yourself. And who doesn't want that?

Intuitive eating, simply put, means eating what you like when you like. 

(The only issue there is that we, at large, don't truly know what we like).

Now, I know that sounds like you'll just be binging on pasta pesto and vegan cupcakes for all of time and never see the tips of your toes again, but when we slow down and really listen to our bodies, do we really want to binge on processed foods and sweets? No, we really don't. Honestly.

If you've been calorie counting, carb-avoiding or under-eating you'll no doubt feel like given the chance to eat whatever you like as a way to loose weight sounds ludicrous. That's because your body is out of balance and in survival mode. You've been ignoring your body's signs and signals for far too long and the survival instinct of your malnourished body is to pack as many fast calories into one sitting as possible. That's why your instinct may be to turn to empty calories that give you the feeling of being full like pastas, breads, cakes and other processed foods.

But once we start treating our bodies like the intelligent organisms they are, we begin to open the communication back up with them and really listen. 

What is your body really saying to you?

If you're in a state of feeling nourished and satiated, your body wont send signals to your brain to pack in that last slice of pizza. Instead you'll be satisfied enough so that you wont be tempted by junk foods and, when your body is running low on fuel again, you'll be able to better listen to it and feed it with nourishing foods that refuel and revitalise you.

But how do we get to this point?

Stop under-eating. And, while we're at it, stop over-eating, too. It may sound complicated but it really starts with slowing down and listening to your body's signals. This may mean turning off the television when you're eating so that you can focus on your eating rather than mindlessly shoving the next bite in your mouth just because it's there. Feel what it feels like to crave the foods in front of you, chew each mouthful and, eventually, feel completely satiated. Not stuffed, just satisfied.

If you're use to over-eating and having the feeling of being completely full after a meal to the point where you couldn't possibly eat another mouthful (oh, I know that place), try using the 80% rule. Don't stop eating only when there's nothing left to eat. Eat until you're about 80% full and stop. Take a rest from eating and if you're still hungry after about 20 minutes eat some more. Most likely, though, you wont be.

We're so use to eating quickly because we're in a rush or because we're distracted by the screen that our stomachs can't keep up with us. Our tummies don't have enough time to digest and send the signal to our brains that we're full. Slowing down each bite means we're giving our bodies enough time to process and let us know we can stop.

So, if you're wanting to begin your journey towards a healthier and happier you, start looking inwards and listening to what your body is telling you. When you get a hunger pang, feed yourself something deliciously healthy and check in when you think you get a craving... is it real? It's all about asking yourself questions and taking a moment to assess what you really need instead of mindlessly reaching for the next tub of vegan ice cream.

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