For those of you who work with me or follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that I have a flexible approach to eating. I employ certain strategies and food choices but I do not follow rules. After all, rules are made to be broken. If you read my previous blog here, you know about my healthy journey and how following one particular way of eating ruined my health. I am a big proponent of intuitive eating. This involves listening to your body and freeing yourself of food restrictions, deprivation, "good" food vs "bad" food and obsession.
Now how the heck do you start to employ this strategy? After all, you are probably experiencing cravings for chocolate, cookies, pizza, diet coke and crisps. It can be difficult to know what to eat when we have lived a life enslaved by our cravings. However, there is a way to regain control and rebalance our hormones so that we create and crave better food options thus improving our health and body.
Habits: The secret ingredient to intuitive eating
The food we eat and the choices we make are based on habits that we have created. The difference between the current you and the in-shape you is the environment you are in. Think about it, the people with great bodies have set up habits to ensure that they bodies remain great. They meal prep, they choose healthier options when eating out, they consider future events by planning and executing. They don't drink Starbucks frappes, they don't diet for an all-inclusive holiday so that they can put it all back on again. They are consistent and organised. Do they have better willpower than you? No. Do they have superior genes? Probably not. Do they create small daily habits to keep them on track. Yes. Choose 1-2 small habits that you can implement with ease, start there and then build. If you don't drink enough water, which is important for fat loss, hunger signals and digestion, then make sure you're getting 8 glasses in per day. When you are consistantly doing that it has become a habit. Then implement another small habit change.
6 steps to freeing yourself
1. Start with eliminating junk and processed foods. Cakes, cookies, pizza, bagels etc are responsible for skyrocketing your cravings. If we don’t restrict these foods we confuse what our bodies need with the cravings we have
2. Improve your nutrient quality by increasing your intake of fresh vegetables and foods containing lots of vitamins and minerals
3. Take your time at meals. It takes 20 minutes to register the “I am full” message to your brain. Bring awareness to how long it takes you to eat a meal, what your meal consists of and if its balanced between protein, carbs and fats. Set a timer to ensure you are eating slower. Turn off distractions (phone, tv, internet)
4. Notice how you feel immediately and a few hours following a meal. Do you have increased energy, focus and satiety? Or do you feel lethargic, unmotivated and bloated?
5. End deprivation by allowing yourselves occasional treats of your favourite foods.
6. Stay way from diet labeling so that you free yourself from the “rules” of eating and give yourself permission to eat what your body wants.