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intuitive eating

Intuitive Eating: What is it and how can you start doing it?

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset, Nutrition By February 20, 2018 Tags: , , , No Comments

“For both excessive and insufficient exercise destroy one’s strength, and both eating and drinking too much or too little destroy health, whereas the right quantity produces, increases or preserves it.” – Aristotle

If you are someone who has been trying to get off the diet-binge hamster wheel and make peace with your body and food, you’ve probably heard of Intuitive Eating.

Upon quick investigation, intuitive eating sounds to good to be true – it boasts that you can make peace with your body, make peace with food, maintain a healthy body weight, all while eating what you want when you want. However it is not too good to be true, and it does exactly what it says. What’s not to love about that?

Intuitive eating relies on using our natural bodily senses that we have had since birth. We listen to our bodies’ signals to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are not. It allows us to honour all our physiological, emotional, and social needs that food satisfies in our life without overly restricting and depriving ourselves of food.

Intuitive eating gives us the balance that allows us to respect that sometimes our bodies need a delicious brownie and sometimes our bodies also need salmon and spinach to nourish us. It rids us of harsh food dichotomies that are damaging to our overall well-being.

Intuitive eating respects that our bodies’ weight will fluctuate and adapt depending on a variety of lifestyle factors that affect our metabolisms. Our bodies deserve nourishment and respect regardless of their shape or size – sometimes we need more food and sometimes we need less. Similarly, sometimes our bodies need to store fat and sometimes they do not, and that is perfectly okay. Learning how to trust your body can be scary, but it’s a very important part of ending the cycle of being a yo-yo dieter.

Gaining weight after ending a strict diet and returning to normal intuitive eating is a perfectly normal and healthy response for a body that has been starving and deprived. Conversely for someone who has been ignoring their satiety cues it is not uncommon to lose weight once they start eating intuitively. In each scenario, our bodies are doing exactly what they need to be doing to preserve our health.

Our bodies tell us what we need and give us exactly what we need, we just need to make sure we listen to it. And no one will ever be perfect at intuitive eating, but just being “a little bit better” is the perfect place to start.

WHERE TO START

When you start eating intuitively, we first want to look at our bodily signals: hunger and satiety.

HUNGER: Hunger is our body’s signal that we need nourishment. We may feel empty, we may experience hunger pangs, we may get lightheaded, and even nauseous in cases of extreme hunger.

SATIETY: Satiety is our body’s signal that we have been nourished and can stop eating. You may experience a lack of interest in food, a loss of hunger, a feeling of fullness. In some cases we may be overly satiated and feel very full and uncomfortable.

Hunger and Satiety exists together on spectrum of varying degrees. How different levels of hunger and satiety feels will vary from person to person. It’s valuable exercises to use a number scale (most commonly zero to ten to grade your hunger.)

For example my hunger-satiety scale looks something like this:

– So hungry I feel nauseous and have a severe headache.

1 to 2 – So hungry I could eat the bark off of a tree, I am also moody and irritable.

– I need to eat very soon, I may reach for any food that is available even if it’s something I do not want.

– I am hungry and my appetite is telling me that I need to, but my hunger is not uncomfortable.

– I am neither hungry nor full, I feel neutral. I am not thing about food.

– I have eaten but I am not fully satiated, if I were going to sleep I would need a little more food or I will wake up at night with hunger pangs throughout the night.

7 to 8 – I feel well satiated, I am not uncomfortable after eating and stopping at this stage. I should not need to eat for a few hours. I could part-take in light exercise or activity after eating.

– I have eaten a little too much. I may be a little bit bloated and feel slightly uncomfortable.

10 – I have eaten way too much, I am largely bloated. My stomach hurts, I may need to lay down. I might feel sleepy from eating too much. I usually don’t want to see or smell food at this point.

Understanding and respecting your hunger and satiety cues is one of the principle foundations of intuitive eating. In order to properly be able to listen to our bodies’ cues, this means that we need to eat slowly enough for our brain to process the information our digestive system is sending to it.

It typically takes our brain 20 minutes to catch up with what is going on in our stomach. If you’re someone who eats very quickly (I know I am!) –  it may be a good exercise to try timing how long it takes you to eat. For some people even taking 10 minutes to eat a meal may be a feat, and that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to train yourself to slow down the pace of your meals. You could:

  • put your utensils down in between bites
  • chew your food thoroughly (this is good for your digestion and also the reason why our mouths have teeth 😉 )
  • share a meal with friends and family and engage in social behaviour
  • eat with your non-dominant hand or utensil you are not accustomed to (chop stick, etc.)
  • set time aside (20-30min +)  to eat your meals so you are not rushed

It may not be easy to develop the habit of slowing down and paying attention to your body’s cues, especially if you’ve been ignoring them and behaving according to external cues (i.e., I am on “x” diet, so I can only eat “y” type/amount of food – even I am hungry/overfull) for a significant amount of time. However, it is an integral part of healing your relationship with your body and with food. Starting with eating slowly and learning how to interpret your hunger and satiety signals is a great place to start.

If you want to further deeply explore the principles of Intuitive Eating and practice it daily in your day to day life you should read the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

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Welcome to The “Anti-Diet”

Fat Loss, Mindset, Nutrition By August 23, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Have you tried every diet known to mankind?

You’ve done keto, paleo, Whole30, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, IIFYM, etc. But still find yourself in a never ending cycle of food restriction and bingeing and weight cycling.

You have 10 pairs of jeans in 10 different sizes to accomodate your weight fluctuations/shape fluctuations. People will see you once and not be able to recognize you three months later because of how different you look. Not only do you change physically, but mentally you’re always between the highs and lows of “succeeding” and “failing” to change and maintain your body.

I’m here to tell you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to suffer anymore. You can have a body that love without punishing it, you can enjoy the foods you love without feeling guilty. You don’t have to be “on/off plan”, you can just be.

I understand it can be scary to let go of all the conventional wisdom you know about weight loss and changing your body. But how useful and healthy are conventional protocols if you cannot maintain or adhere to them consistently? 

The reality is that restrictive dieting is not healthy. Any diet where you overly restrict caloric intake, restrict macronutrient intake (ie. eliminating carbs, fats, protein), or obsessively dichotomize food into “good” or “bad” can be devastating to you physically or mentally.

Yo-Yo Dieting is more harmful than it is good and is highly correlated with the following:

  • Loss of lean body mass
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Bradychardia (slowed heart rate)
  • Obesity
  • Developtment of Eating Disorders
  • Depression/Anxiety

In addition to this list, 95% of dieters usually regain their lost weight within 1-5 years or dieting. So why suffer for a fleeting “success?” Personally, I’m not satisfied with results that don’t last. I’m not satisfied with being restricted. I’m not satisfied with day to day suffering. And I don’t think you should be either.

If you’re tired of yo-yo dieting and gaining and losing the same 10, 20, 30, 50 lbs over and over again – it’s time to embrace The Anti-Diet.

The Anti-Diet is exaclty what you think it is. Not a diet. It’s a philosophy that helps foster healthy relationships with food, with our bodies, and allows up to optimize our physical and mental health.

The Anti-Diet is a way of eating day to day that is free of restriction. It is sustainable, effective and easy to adhere to. The Anti Diet is also known as Attuned Eating or Intuitive Eating. People who adhere to the philosophy of intuitive eating tend to have lower body weight and a greater overall sense of well-being than those who adhere to conventional dieting.

If you’re ready to be done with diets and become an Anti-Dieter or Attuned Eater…look no farther.

The Principles of The Anti-Diet

  1. Eat when you are hungry. Listen to your body’s cues. We were created to thrive and our body’s signals tell us when we need energy and when we do not. If your body is sending you hunger signals it is time to eat – if your body is not giving off hunger signals, it is not time to eat. If we delay eating despite being hungry we can lose our ability to moderate our food intake and will naturally want to overeat and make less conscientious food choices.
  2. Stop eating when you are satisfied. Closely tied into eating when you are hungry you also need to listen to your body for the signals that it is satisfied. Ideally you want to minize experiences or being painfully hungry or painfully full. Listen to your body’s signals to regulate your energy intake, you don’t need to count calories. You just need to be mindful of what you are feeling physically.hunger scale
  3. Enjoy the foods that you eat. Eating foods you enjoy brings you satisfaction. If you hate brocolli there’s not point eating 5lbs of it just because someone told you to. Explore different foods and flavours. Eat foods that satifsfy your taste buds and your cravings. When you eat intuitevly you generally won’t experience intense cravings and you won’t feel the need to binge on your favourite foods because you are always allowed to have them (which will generally make you want them less becausey they are not “off limits.”)
  4. Reject restriction and convenitonal dieting. Reject caloric restriction, reject macronutrient restriction, reject dichotimizing food into “good/bad” and “clean/dirty.” Restrictive eating promotes disordered patterns and food phobias. You are free to eat whatever you want as long as you enjoy it and it makes you feel good physically.
  5. Respect your body. Learn to appreciate your body for what it is. It’s hard to accept and embrace listening to our bodies when all we can focus on is changing them. When we can’t actively respect or enjoy our bodies it’s hard to treat them properly and healthfully. anti-diet - good body image
  6. Do physical activity and exercise you enjoy. Stop punishing yourself by doing exercise to “burn calories.” Engage in exercise because you feel good when you do it. Your workouts and physical activity should leave you feeling happy, energized and more confident. Do types of exercises you genuinely enjoy and I guarantee you will never miss a workout – you’ll build a routine that serves you and allows to exercise lifelong healthy habits.

If you’re ready to stop dieting – it is never to late to start the Anti-Diet. Habit change takes time but there’s no reason why you can’t feel great mentally and look great physically by implementing the princples of the Anti-Diet in your day to day to life. Sometimes even just being more mindful of your eating will make a big difference alone. You can let go of restriction and get ready for healthier relationships with your body and with your food.

diet


 Check out this TED Talk from 2014 on dieting and the consequences of it that most people experience.

Do you need help implementing habit change in your life? Are you ready to stop dieting and start feeling amazing every day? I offer in person and online coaching for exercise and nutrition and we can get you started on the right track today.

 

Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions or feedback? 

Leave your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to contact me by e-mail. 

🙂

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