Eating empowered can be very uncomfortable at first, as most of us have many food/eating rules, and limiting beliefs to let go of….but, once you begin to dial in, and trust the wisdom of your body, it can also be very freeing. Helping you make the mind/belly connection and get back in touch with your body, your true appetite, and its natural eating rhythm.
As children, we naturally eat this way…eating when we are hungry and simply stopping when we have had enough, not full. No matter if it’s our most favorite meal, we will leave it. However, somewhere along the way, this all changes. We start labeling food as “good” or “bad” and adding rules and restrictions to our eating. We begin to fear food and question our hunger ….limiting our intake or cutting out whole food groups altogether, in a way to control how much we are eating. We end up feeling guilty for eating something we “think” we shouldn’t, and will mentally & physically abuse ourselves afterwards…..either with hurtful words, punishing exercise, or skipping meals entirely.
Of course changing the way we eat and/or think about food, doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a daily process.…..of mindfully letting go of unhealthy behaviors, restrictions and habits, and purposely incorporating new healthy ones. It’s trusting your appetite and body, and giving it enough food, so you can feel, look, and be your best self……. and ultimately live your best life.
Below are my STEPS TO EMPOWERED EATING…….
WALK AWAY FROM THE DIET MENTALITY – If “dieting” actually worked – it would have gotten you the results you are looking for a long time ago. So many times we blame ourselves for “failing” or not having the “willpower” to stick to a diet plan…. When really it’s not “us” that has failed…it’s the diet!!
HONOR YOUR APPETITE – Most times we fight our natural appetite……Setting impossible standards based upon fear of food, fear of appetite, fear of weight gain and not allowing ourselves to eat when we are hungry. Hunger is a normal, and food is life! Your body needs to know, and to trust, that it will consistently be fed and have access to food. If you try to override feelings of hunger and not eat enough, your body reacts with cravings and binges.
WAVE THE WHITE FLAG – Make peace with food and give yourself permission to eat. Stop labeling foods as “good” or “bad”…. “dirty” or “clean”. When we tell ourselves we can’t have or shouldn’t have a certain food, we will eventually feel deprived – this deprivation will then build into uncontrollable cravings and overeating. So when we finally “give in” to that food, we are likely to overeat (since we don’t know when we’ll have it again). This overeating then triggers guilt, which ultimately starts the cycle all over again…… restriction = overeating = feelings of guilt.
CHALLENGE THE INNER FOOD CRITIC – You know those toxic thoughts in your head that declare you as “good” for eating a salad for lunch and “bad” because you ate pizza for dinner or chocolate cake for dessert. These are the unreasonable rules that were created by the dieting world, that cause us to feel guilt & shame around food. These rules are “ruling” you on a daily basis and controlling your food decisions. Standing up to our inner critic and taking back our power is an important step towards becoming an empowered eater.
TUNE INTO YOUR BODY – Dieting causes us to feel like we are only allowed to eat at certain times – so leaving food behind and listening to our “fullness” can be difficult. Tune in and “listen” for signals that tell you that you are feeling satisfied and have had enough – pause partway through a meal or snack and check in with your body. How does the food taste? How full do you feel? Bring more consciousness and awareness to your meals.
INCLUDE VITAMIN P IN YOUR MEAL – Yes, it’s possible to be physically full but still “hungry”. If you are constantly trying to override cravings or not eat foods that you enjoy, you are going to leave the table unsatisfied – regardless of how much food you ate or how full you are feeling. You will then keep looking for that one thing that is going to make you feel satisfied and content and you’re likely to overeat. Instead, adding a dash of vitamin P (pleasure) to your meals, and allowing yourself to eat what you really want (in moderation), will leave you feeling more satisfied and content….. often with less food.
DON’T EAT YOUR FEELINGS – Emotional eating is very common. We tend to eat for many reasons other than physical hunger, and food is often used to cover up unpleasant feelings and emotions. It’s important to find ways to comfort yourself and resolve your emotions without using food. Remember the only “problem” food will solve, is hunger.
RESPECT YOUR BODY – When we start from a place of self-love as opposed to self-hate, our actions will reflect that. We start listening more to what our body needs, instead of fighting it. We start giving it enough food, instead of starving it. We start moving it with exercise that makes us happy and energized, instead of beating ourselves up with exercise that leaves us drained. We start saying no to things that don’t feel right, and yes to the things that do. We stop fixating on the things that appear to be broken about ourselves, and start focusing on the things that are great.
EMBRACE THE 80/20 RULE – In order to create a healthy relationship with food, we need to create a healthy balance. Striving for an 80/20 balance – healthy choices 80% of the time and leaving 20% for the “extras” is a much more realistic approach – and one that helps us create a “lifestyle” of healthy eating and move away from the diet mentality.