Thursday, March 7, 2013

One way to stop emotional over-eating

What are your favorite foods?

When was the last time you were honest with your sense of taste?  Do you eat your favorite foods guilt free?  Do you enjoy the food you choose to eat?

Just as we grow and change as we get older, our sense of taste can change over time, as well.  Our cravings can change day to day.

For years and years, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder.  I guess you could say, I’ve had a very poor relationship with food throughout my life.  For me, eating was not only a terrible inconvenience, food was a downright burden.  I hated all food because of the existence of calories.  Everything I ate was going to attach itself to my body and make me fat and unhappy.  I hated eating and I absolutely hated feeling full.  If I liked the taste of certain food, I avoided it at all costs.  A favorite food was a “dangerous” food.  I believed that eating was not supposed to be enjoyable.  If I enjoyed eating or the experience of eating, it was even worst than committing a felony.  In order to be happy and thin, I truly believed that you had to numb your sense of taste and ignore your cravings.

Needless to say, having this attitude toward food is not a good way to live.  First of all, I was extremely unhealthy and, secondly, I was severely unhappy.  Constantly suppressing your hunger and desire for food is an unnatural way to live.

I finally discovered healing, peace, and balance through eating disorder recovery and intuitive eating.  When I am tempted to go back to my old ways I have to remind myself that practicing those bad habits will NOT make me happy.

I think everyone can benefit from practicing intuitive eating.  Intuitive eating is about getting in touch with your senses.  It is about listening to your body and your needs.  It is about nourishing you body, mind, heart, and soul.

One very helpful step to achieve intuitive eating is figuring out what your favorite foods are.

Truly and honestly decipher what you enjoy eating.  You might like it because of the taste, texture, or even the atmosphere in which you eat it.  Figure out, not only, what foods you like but also what foods you don’t like.

When I was desperately trying to be thin, I ate carrots all the time.  I dipped carrots in mustard and that was my dinner.  The carrots were really a vehicle for the mustard.  I would go through gross amounts of mustard.  Why?  I thought I liked mustard.   I told people that my favorite food was mustard.  But really I was okay with eating it because of the big old ZERO next to the calories on the label.

Since, I discovered intuitive eating, I figured out that I don’t like mustard, and I don’t even like plain carrots.  I DO like carrots and ranch, however.

The key with intuitive eating is figuring out what is going to satisfy your hunger, your cravings, and your needs.  Your hunger is a cue that you should eat to sustain yourself, replenish, or give you more energy.  Your cravings are a cue from your (very smart and not easily tricked) senses to satisfy your taste buds.  And fulfilling your bodily needs comes from the knowledge of figuring out what foods make you feel good to eat yet also contain nutrition that will make you feel good later.

So remember to listen to these three things: hunger, cravings, and needs.

If you struggle with an eating disorder, in the beginning, you might be worried that you will go hog wild and eat everything in sight.  But realistically, if you are listening to your body and your needs you won’t.  If you have suppressed your needs for a very long time, you might experience some freedom like a kid in a candy store.  However, in time, if you stick with practicing intuitive eating and don’t give up, you will find peace and balance.  You will learn how to eat and nourish your body in a healthy way.  And in the end you will be satisfied and you won’t over eat or under eat.  Just like anything, it takes time and practice to change a habit, so be gentle with yourself.

I used to eat a lot of salads.  But I found out that I don’t even like lettuce.  It’s so blah tasting.  I think iceberg lettuce tastes like paper.  I don’t mind a spinach salad every once in a while.  I’ve figured out that I really like to make green smoothies.  It is a refreshing way to eat greens.  I make my smoothies with spinach, banana, sweetened almond milk or coconut milk, and blueberries.  I like the taste and I like how it makes me feel after I eat it.  It doesn’t satisfy my hunger so I make sure to have it as a snack or an addition to a meal.

Below are some other ways to practice intuitive eating before and as you eat:
Look at the colors on your plate and notice the different textures of your meal
Take several deep breaths before you take a bite to calm your senses and transition your mind
Smell your food before you dive in and take in all the wonderful scents
Don’t be afraid to say no to certain foods and yes to others
Eat slowly and intentionally
Rid yourself of distractions before you eat: no phone, computer, book, magazine, iPad, etc.
Chew your food adequately and don’t be in a hurry to take the next bite
Be aware of how the food is making you feel as you are eating it; is it hot going down your throat, is it soothing, is it not as good as you hoped, or are you deciding this is your new favorite meal?
Check in with yourself every once in a while to recognize when you are satisfied

Remember, if you get hungry later, you are allow to eat again.

There is so much we don’t know about health and nutrition.  Just 30 years ago, people thought that eggs were bad for you, and now they are saying that they are good for you.  We still don’t have it figured out, and I don’t think we will ever have it all figured out, at least in our lifetime.  Each person is such a unique complex being.  It is practically impossible to make assumptions and generalizations about every person’s needs and nutrition.

Some nutritional advice makes sense to me and I have tested it myself and proven its truth.  I have tested out what food make me feel good right after I eat it or later or even a day later.  I really like to eat ice cream.  But I know if I ate it every day, I would get an upset stomach.  I don’t want to get sick of it either so I don’t eat it that often.  The same is true for vegetables.  If I am craving them, then I will eat them.  If they don’t sound good, I will skip the veggies that time.  I am amazing at how well my body know what is good for me and what I need at the time.

When I was first committed to changing my habits, I was so scared of myself.  I truly thought that I wouldn’t be able to ever trust myself.  I thought if I wasn’t on a diet I would go crazy and eat everything I came in contact with.  But that is not the case at all.  That belief has come from society and the multi-billion dollar diet industry.  We have been brainwashed to think that we are animals with instincts rather than human person’s created by God with an intellect and free will.

Once, I came to this conviction, I settled down and got in touch with my own personal needs and feelings toward food.  I will admit that it took a very long time to make that first step.  However, I have a much better relationship with food now than I did before and I never want to go back to the way I was.

I promise you, it works.  Intuitive eating will change your life.  It is hard at first, but it is worth it.  You do not need to be on a diet to have a healthy lifestyle and healthy relationship with food.  Listen to your hunger cues, your cravings, and your needs.  I guarantee you will have a more nourishing existence.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! What a great reminder to slow down when eating and really enjoy each bite. I think we have a tendency, as Americans mostly, to inhale our foods like we are on a time limit, afraid that if we don't eat fast enough, we will discover the truth; that maybe what we are eating isn't that great or is.