After years of dieting you may feel like your life is ruled by food. The dieting mindset may have taught you that food is meant to be consumed under strict guidelines without enjoyment. However, this is just not true! Eating should not bring you stress!
Remember back to when you were a child, there were so many exciting things to experience every day, and meals and snacks were just a part of the routine. Day-to-day life was not driven by whether or not you ate the “right” or “wrong” foods.
When you focus too much on eating and dieting, food begins to control your life rather than being a part of your day. You find yourself cancelling your lunch date with your friends because you’re afraid there will be nothing on the menu that you “can” eat. Following food rules to hopefully lose weight removes the pleasurable experiences from your life.
The good news is that when you finally give up dieting, you do not need to follow external food rules anymore. When you start the intuitive eating journey you learn how to eat based on your body’s hunger and fullness cues. And, when you rely on your body’s signals, you learn how to eat for wellness.
Here are 5 Ways to Intuitively Eat for Wellness:
1. Start Your Day with Breakfast
When you wake up in the morning, your body calls for fuel. If you ignore this call, you will likely overeat later in the day. Instead of focusing on food as a tool for weight loss, focus on it as a tool for fueling your body to get your day started. As a past dieter, you likely skipped breakfast because you either claimed you weren’t hungry or that it caused you to eat more throughout the day. On the contrary, when you skip breakfast, you set yourself up to be overly hungry which then leads to overeating. Enjoy a hearty nutritious breakfast such as oatmeal with fruit and nuts or a veggie omelet in a whole grain tortilla. You will see how much energy you have to start your day and will find you are not “starving” by lunchtime.
2. Bring Healthy Snacks with You
If you approach mealtime feeling insatiable, you may overeat to the point that you feel stuffed and sick. When you begin to feel the first signals of hunger, the only way to answer that call is to eat, which you can only do if you have food with you. Always carry some snacks when you leave the house. Having snacks on hand will prevent you from making a trip to the vending machine and can even save you some money.
3. Pace Yourself and Eat Slowly
Approaching each meal in an overly hungry state may cause you to eat rapidly, bypassing those early signals of fullness. Try to eat each meal slowly and assess your hunger and fullness levels throughout the meal. Take a few bites of your meal and then pause to assess if you are beginning to feel less hungry and then stop eating when you feel satisfied. Learning to slow down takes time, so be patient with yourself.
4. Be Creative with Produce
If you’ve been a dieter, you have probably had your fill of fruits and veggies. Maybe so much so that you avoid them at this point (“carrot sticks, no thanks!”) Do a quick audit of the food you eat in a day. If you’re falling short on produce, then you are falling short on valuable nutrients and antioxidants for good health. Instead of reluctantly adding steamed broccoli to your menu, get creative. Make a spinach lasagna, stuffed peppers or a roasted eggplant salad.
5. Approach Your Meal with Positivity
By making food a positive force in your life, you will end that unhappy relationship you’ve had with food and be on the road to optimal health and wellness. Approach each meal as an opportunity to show respect to your body. Keeping the intuitive eating principles top of mind will ensure you have full satisfaction in your meals.