We are bombarded with a continuous supply of information about what, how and when to eat, but this often ignores one important factor. You!
Sometimes we focus so much on the external influences and not enough on the internal ones. We listen to the experience that others have had and what ‘works’ for them, we take advice from Google, television adverts, magazine articles (!) and documentaries. But we ignore what our body is telling us.
You are the only person who has access to how your body feels; use it to your advantage.
Some handy tips to tune into your body more:
Are set meal times the best for you?
Sometimes it can’t be avoided but do you HAVE to eat at 8am, 1pm and 7pm each day? Are you eating because the clock tells you to or because your stomach tells you to? If you can spend a meal, a day, a weekend or even a week listening to your body and only eating when hungry. Perhaps you don’t remember the last time that you felt hungry? It’s time to rediscover what that feels like.
Break away from Breakfast
I really do believe that breakfast is important for most people, but it doesn’t have to be as soon as you wake up. Are you starving when you wake up? Eat. If you can’t face food then wait until a bit later, say 9 or 10 and break your overnight fast then.
Fist not Head
Remember that your stomach is the size of your fist not the size of your head. So use your head and…
Stop eating when satisfied not full
No-one enjoys that stuffed feeling (do they?!) but it’s so easy to take one bite too many and then feel uncomfortable. Practice stopping eating when you are no longer hungry, not stuffed. You DON’T have to eat everything on your plate. It’s a waste in you or in the bin if you don’t need it. Save it for another meal.
Slow down and stay mindful
Allow your body to do its job and allow at least 20-30 minutes for one meal a day to give your brain chance to catch up with your body. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognise that you are full; in that time you could have consumed way more than you need. Savour each mouthful and the conversation that goes with the meal (if any). Try putting your fork down between mouthfuls and pausing to appreciate your food. Try not to eat in front of the TV or a magazine as you will be too distracted to register the food.
Recognise when you are eating out of emotion not hunger.
One of our Fitfish GPs often says, “If the problem isn’t hunger then the answer isn’t food”. We know this don’t we? But we still turn to it. Can you look at the root cause for your eating? Is it boredom, loneliness or the need for comfort? Perhaps seek some help with some of the issues brought up or recognise them and start thinking of alternatives to fill the gap such as a call with a friend, a walk or a good book. You could journal why you eat for a while to see what the reasons are.
Face up to the feelings.
How do you feel after eating? Really? What about 30 minutes later or 3 hours? Do you get a slump in energy, a crash, indigestion, upset stomach? Perhaps you are not eating what suits your body best. Make notes of any discomfort and discuss them with your GP if you are worried. If your energy levels are a problem then you are probably not eating as naturally as you should.
Enjoy the adventure of better health as you let your body talk to you.