Intuitive Eating Could Change Your Relationship With Food
Diets. They tend to get a bad rap in culture, and rightfully so. There’s been a multitude of fad diets over the past 100 years and it’s hard to keep track of them. In the eighties, science told us that fats were bad and now they tell us that they’re healthy. People have tried Weight Watchers, counting their macros, and spending their days intermittent fasting. Some people weigh their food and journal their eating habits. People argue that you should only eat 3 big meals per day and others believe that 5 small meals are the way to go. While there is nothing wrong with trying to be healthy, we can all take a step back and collectively agree: we obsess about our diets too much. Yo-yo dieting doesn’t work. Studies show that the more dieting you do, the more likely you are to gain the weight back, and then some. Yo-yo dieters are also prone to developing fatty livers and at risk for diabetes. It seems to be a constant struggle to find a balance between food and happiness. For most people, the mentality goes a little something like this, “If I deprive myself of food (most of which I enjoy to eat), then I will be my ideal weight, meaning I will finally be happy with myself.” That sentence can dictate our lives. It’s time to get back to loving the way we eat and what we eat.
Back To The Basics
Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a moment, 100,000 years give or take. Our ancestors lived off of primal instincts and their behaviors were a direct result of those biological urges and needs. When they were hungry, they looked for food and ate. When they were full, they stopped eating. It was as simple as that. They ate intuitively. Today, food is thrown in our faces constantly. Advertisements for fast food are blasted out on every channel. Chain restaurants can be found on every street corner and grocery stores are just as accessible. We live in a culture of indulgence and self-gratification. In some ways, we can’t even be mad about it. Food is GOOD, not bad. It tastes delicious and that’s why we love to eat. Heck, if those cavemen had Whopper Sauce and Chick-Fil-A, do you think they would be as skinny as they were? And if they even knew what happy hour was with the oh-so-heavenly combination of margaritas, tacos, and queso, well, they’d leave that squirrel they caught on the spit to burn over the fire. We love food and that’s okay, it’s fun and it fuels us. It drives our culture and interactions with other human beings. It can be a place for community and passion. But somewhere along the way, we’ve gotten into an unhealthy relationship with food. We either starve ourselves or eat something we enjoy and feel guilty about it later. Does the term “food coma” seem to line up with what we’re talking about here? We’ve gotten out of control. We ignore our body’s signals to eat or not to stop eating. Think about the scene in the Christmas movie The Grinch, where Jim Carrey speaks the truth with, “am I just eating because I’m bored?” Yes Mr. Grinch, you are. And so are we.
Am I Just Eating Because I’m Bored?
Intuitive eating isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Intuitive eating is about eating whatever the hell you want, but doing so in a healthy way. It’s about recognizing your body’s hunger cues and cravings, not just because you “feel” like it. Intuitive eating is personal and different for every person. It’s about developing a relationship with your own body and understanding what’s good for you. If you’re looking for a simple diet solution to lose 15 pounds before vacation, you won’t find it with intuitive eating. It’s a process of being hyper-aware of your body and getting back to the basics. This can often take time to retrain our minds and bodies to think differently. Are you really craving chocolate cake at 8 pm? Or is it because of something else?
First of all, hunger is a biological trait. It’s when your body releases certain hormones to signal when it’s time for nourishment. Ghrelin is a hormone that is released in our brains that tells us we are hungry. Motilin is a hormone released that causes our stomachs to growl when our stomach needs to be filled. What we’ve walked away from as humans is that we often mistake a craving for true hunger and we can train our brains to release those hormones because of that. Eating food is a science that we can implement in our daily lives. You don’t have to sadly munch on celery sticks and sip on cayenne pepper lemon water to follow this idea (unless that’s your prerogative). Intuitive eating is a lifestyle that can include eating chocolate or having a glass of wine. It involves whatever your guilty pleasure is. Except it’s about taking that word before pleasure. It’s just pleasure.
I Want Spaghetti Please
This is how eating intuitively works. Say you’re craving spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. In the back of your mind, you know you want it, but you’re also telling yourself that you don’t want to eat a lot of carbs for dinner. Instead, you make a salad and eat it with less enthusiasm than a dog at the veterinarian. Later, you end up heading the pantry and eating an entire bag of chips. Why? Because you didn’t satisfy yourself. You deprived yourself of something you were truly craving. The next time you crave spaghetti and meatballs, just eat it. The key is to stop eating when you’re full and satisfied. You have to listen to your bodies cravings and satisfy them. Yes, you might be craving spaghetti, but eating intuitively doesn’t mean you eat 4 bowls of it. A recent study followed people who dieted and people who intuitively ate. The people who intuitively ate had a lower BMI. They were also more body positive and at peace with themselves. This is most likely because intuitive eating teaches you to view food in a positive manner. You eat until you’re full, not stuffed, not uncomfortable, and definitely not until you have to unbutton your pants.
The next time you’re hungry, make a conscious decision to think about why you’re hungry and how you can satisfy your mind and your body. It will change your life without having to change the way you eat!