I’m going to let you in on a secret that changed my life and broke me out of the diet cycle: any form of controlled eating will just cause you more problems.
Why? Well I’m bloody glad you asked. Dieting creates an emotional relationship with food. Food isn’t out to get you and make you fat. It’s just energy. An emotional relationship with food causes guilt, feelings of failure and obsession over the foods you’ve been told are ‘bad’.
Labeling food as “good” and “bad” causes you to constantly think about food. Every time some “bad” food is near you, you have a mental struggle with yourself about having some. When you inevitably crack and “break your diet” you go nuts and eat all of it. Every last Tim Tam in the damn packet. Then you feel guilty. Like a failure. You swear to do better tomorrow. The cycle continues.
It was learning about Intuitive Eating that helped me break that pattern for good.
What is Intuitive Eating? In a nutshell, Intuitive Eating is about re-learning how you were born to eat. Your natural hunger and satiety cues. Listening to your body. Society messes up these natural cues. I’m being nice. Society royally effs up your natural cues.
So Intuitive Eating takes practice – it took me a long time after 10+ years of being a diet pro. (Diet Pro = Tried every diet Google could find me and knew the calorie count of pretty much everything). Intuitive Eating gave me my freedom back around food. You can eat anything and everything you want and most importantly, never think about food negatively again.
How do you eat intuitively?
It’s simplified into 4 easy steps. I still use these steps today, after five years of being an Intuitive Eater.
- Wait until you are genuinely hungry. There is no ideal time to eat. Your body will tell you when it needs food. If you’re used to eating at a certain time, or out of habit then you might not even know what it feels like. Do yourself a favour, learn this feeling.
- Eat exactly what you want. At first this is scary AF right? You think you’re going to eat all the junk food in the world! You’re not. The funny thing is – as soon as you allow yourself to eat whatever the hell you want – with no guilt or restraint- the desire can lessen.
- Sit down and eat consciously. In other words, just pay attention to what you’re eating. Don’t stuff it in so fast you’re not even tasting it. Notice how you feel as you eat it. As you’re getting full, the food stops tasting as good.
- When you’re satisfied, stop eating. Not when the plate is empty, not when you’re stuffed and have a food baby. Learn to stop eating when your body has had enough fuel.
You will find this hard. You will doubt if you can do it. You can, just try again at your next meal. Just wait until you’re actually hungry first. You will eat junk at first. You will feel like a wild cat released from its cage, but don’t worry. You’ll get over it real quick and lose all interest in the foods that controlled you before.
Go to the shops and buy every item of junk food you try to avoid. Sit down at your table and open everything. Give yourself full permission to eat it all- slowly, one bite at a time. You’ll notice the desire for them will disappear.
Your body wants you to be healthy, trust it. You will notice your body craves healthier foods. Your body actually wants healthy food. And if it works for you like it did for me, you will feel free of years of unhealthy dieting.
Alexa Prinno is the owner at Bossy Alexa.