Intuitive eating means listening closely to what your body needs and honoring that.
It’s been almost 30 years since I made the switch from a sedentary, “fast-foodaholic” lifestyle to a relatively active lifestyle. I base my success on the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I am active and eat well while 20% of the time is a margin of error called, life. Because I have adopted a healthier lifestyle, I have come to understand that if you listen closely to your body, it will often tell you what it needs.
I remember Christmas in 1979, it was about a year after I had gotten my health in order and lost about 50 pounds (note-the weight followed my healthy changes). I had been eating healthy food for about a year and I was heading to my Grandparents house prepared to overindulge in holiday fare. I felt that I had deserved it because I really hadn’t eaten any unhealthy food in so long. I picked up my plate and headed to the buffet table. Of course my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but hey, I “deserved” to eat all of the foods I had denied myself for so long, so I took one of everything. What I didn’t realize however, although I wanted all of this food, the reality was my body was no longer conditioned to eat it. At that moment I realized that healthy living must include listening to your body, NOT the “diet head.” The diet head says, “Knock yourself out, eat all you want, for tomorrow you can diet.” That’s nuts and just perpetuates yo-yo dieting. The healthy head puts things in perspective and takes away the “all or nothing” mentality which is the reason diets fail.
As a society, we are conditioned (due to years of dieting) to listen to our “diet-head.” This leaves us completely out of touch with listening to our body. Think about it, when you eat well, you know you feel better, right? But we make food such an all or nothing proposition that once off a diet we do not know how to moderate. The truth is that your body does become addicted to sugars and junk food, but if you become consistent with good eating habits, your body will learn to crave the good food, not the bad.
Remember, it is the dieting lifestyle that sets you up to “want” whatever foods your diet forbids. As long as you continue to follow diet rules, you will continue to “want” the less healthy foods versus taking the steps to listen to your body and give it what it needs.
The bottom line is this, do your best to eat well and remain committed to activity. If you feel that you are deprived all the time, you will never get a sense of what balanced eating is because you spend too much time in your head dealing with guilt. Let go of the diet-head and begin to be more thoughtful about making the choices that are right for you because your body knows best.
This week, listen closely to your body. Connect to how you “feel” when you move more and eat better. That feeling is one that you don’t want to lose. So, hold tight and give your body what it needs, it will thank you.