We’re finally back from our mid western adventure and it feels so good to be home. The catching up on life part is the tricky part but I’m so happy to be in my own bed again. You don’t realize how much you love it until you’re gone.
Let’s talk about simple and effective ways to improve your relationship with food.
Today, I’m doing another Intuitive Eating featured Wellness Wednesday post today. Here are some of the past ones if you want to catch up!
January: Get 25 grams of protein at breakfast
February: Honor Your Cravings
March: Promoting Heart Health
April: Confessions of a Dietitian and Runner
April: Balancing Intuitive Eating and Exercise
May: 4 Ways You May Be Stressing Your Body Without Knowing
1. Try ordering what you actually want, not what you think you want
Just try it once and see how freeing and powerful it can be to give yourself permission to eat what your body craves in that moment – maybe it’s pancakes every morning, ice cream for dinner 3 days straight, or pizza for every meal.
You’ll find that the more common that food becomes, the less anxiety and fear it will provoke. The less exciting it will become.
We call this sensory satiety. The more exposure to a food you have, the more “boring” it becomes and the less desire you have for it. But you can’t have those experiences through knowledge, it’s something you need to learn through experience, bite by bite.
We have less urges to overeat when we eat what we really want. OUR BODIES ARE SMART! We can’t trick them because they’ll catch up sooner or later.
2. Honor your hunger
Similarly, try eating when you’re hungry, even if it’s not your normal “meal time.” This is a great resource to help relearn how to acknowledge your hunger.
When we don’t eat enough or we ignore our primal hunger (our biological, urgent need for food), our bodies compensate with both biological and psychological mechanisms. With any form of deprivation, our brain chemicals change, too.
For example, NPY is a brain chemical that makes us crave carbohydrates. Have you ever been super hungry (a 0, 1 or 2 on the hunger scale, as my clients know it), and just craving something carbohydrate based?
There’s a reason for that!
When you eat carbohydrates, you increase your production of serotonin, which then turns off NPY. Lots of science but basically….your body has these mechanisms to protect you! But it works in opposite ways too.
Read: If You’re Hungry, Eat
3. Get yourself away from diet culture
That could be certain people, magazines, websites, blogs or tv programs promoting diets and bikini bodies. Even if you don’t realize it, these are likely impacting you subconsciously. They won’t help you become a more natural, relaxed eater.
They won’t help your relationship with food. They won’t help you learn to eat intuitively. To some extent, you have some control over what influences you, so try to gravitate towards the more positive things.
I love how Kylie often talks about what a “normal” eater is. To me, normal means always eating when you’re hungry, and not making excuses for hunger. And it’s okay to eat when you’re not hungry sometimes – sometimes eating is social, sometimes it’s emotional, sometimes it’s just there.
Being able to let yourself eat in all of these situations constitutes normal.
Looking forward to a meal out, yet also looking forward to a meal in. Making your favorite meal often because it’s not something special that you have to “deserve” in order to eat. Eating dessert even on days you didn’t exercise just because you enjoy it and want something sweet after dinner.
All of this is normal. There’s so much crap out there that makes us feel like this isn’t normal, but when you’re listening to your body, that is so good and so nourishing.
4. Aim for meal satisfaction, not meal fullness
To be satisfying, a meal should include foods you enjoy.
For example, eating a salad when you want a steak just isn’t satisfying. If you are truly choosing a satisfying food, you’ll probably eat less of it. What sorts of pleasure do you look for in foods?
Taste, aroma, appearance, smell, texture, volume? All of these come into play when choosing a satisfying food. You won’t find yourself chasing that “ultimate pleasure” if you actually choose what your body wants in the first place.
Maybe you want something warm and creamy, but your brain tells you you had a big lunch and you should settle for a salad. You won’t leave feeling satisfied. You might be full, temporarily, but your body knows its not satisfied.
So, you’ll seek something else out.
I’m not telling you not to eat salads or vegetables, because sometimes that may be what brings you satisfaction. You’ll find that there are times when you crave all the veggies so embrace those times too.
Read: Satisfaction Vs Fullness
What foods brings you satisfaction? For me, a thick bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, veggie pizza or a cone of ice cream!