How to stop eating when you’re full.
I can’t tell you how many times I have told people to eat intuitively, and they have burst out in laughter. Here’s how the conversation often goes:
What’s intuitive eating?
Eating when you feel hungry. Stopping when you feel full.
Why would I want to do this?
It gives you freedom from restrictive diets and food guilt. You get to eat whatever you want. You feel satisfied after eating.
By being in tune with your satiety signals, you also give your body the opportunity to tell you what it needs. You may find your nutrient levels improve because you listen to your desires.
LOL. My food desires include a packet of mint slices and my body weight in hot chips. Is this because my body needs the nutrients in these foods?
This is where the conversation usually ends. What I usually don’t have time to explain is the next little section.
You may have to make some specific changes to your diet before you can learn to eat intuitively. I have written a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
INTUITIVE EATING FOR BEGINNERS:
Make sure you understand what an evidence-based, healthy diet consists of. Check out the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating if you’re a total nutrition newbie.
Identify any unhealthy foods that you repeatedly overeat or have a negative relationship with. These are often high sugar, fat or salt foods that are heavily processed. Remove them from your house. Stop buying them. We are going to take a break from these foods to disrupt the cycle. You will see them again later, don’t worry.
Replace the foods that you have temporarily eliminated with healthier versions. Here are some suggestions:
Healthy crackers, carrots and hummus INSTEAD of potato chips
Banana ‘nice’ cream (blend frozen bananas and top with nuts and maple syrup) INSTEAD of regular ice-cream
Dark chocolate, berries and dry-roasted almonds INSTEAD of regular chocolate.
Healthy pizza instead of regular pizza. Check out my Instagram for a delicious super quick & healthy pizza recipe.
Keep your cupboards stocked with healthy food. Bring healthy snacks to work so you don’t reach for afternoon sweeties.
Drink lots of water, mineral water or hot tea. Keep a drink by your side at all times. We often mistake thirst for hunger.
Make sure you are eating wholegrains instead of refined carbs. This is extremely important, as white rice, white pasta and white bread contain very little fibre, will raise your blood sugar rapidly and mess with your satiety cues.
Make sure you are filling your plate with LOTS of vegetables and are limiting your red meat intake. Don’t worry about eating too many vegetables or too much fruit – it’s near impossible.
Make sure you eat decent sized meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t skip meals and don’t go hungry. Try to eat your meals at a similar time each day so that your body learns when to give you the ‘hungry’ and ‘full’ signals.
9. Follow steps 1-8 for two months. It takes three weeks for all of your taste receptor cells to regenerate and at least two months to form a habit. These factors will help you to be successful with intuitive eating. When you’re feeling confident that you can listen to your hunger signals, you can slowly start to reintroduce some of those foods you eliminated. If you find you are still overeating these foods, it may be too early to bring them back into your diet. Give yourself another month. If you have no desire to reintroduce those foods at all, then that’s fine too.
10. If you’re still overeating, it’s also worth considering other things that might be going on. Here are some examples:
PROBLEM 1: You overeat when bored or watching TV.
SOLUTION: Preoccupy your hands. Use your phone, knit, draw or write a shopping list. Alternatively, fill this time by doing something else. Go for a walk or read a book.
PROBLEM 2: You overeat when feeling emotional.
SOLUTION: Learn to do something creative so that you have a productive outlet for your emotions. Learn to play an instrument, draw or write in a journal. Call a friend or family member to talk. Seek professional help from a psychologist if you can.
PROBLEM 3: You overeat in social settings.
SOLUTION: Make sure you are feeling calm before the event. You could try some deep breathing or meditate for 10 minutes before leaving home. Have some water on the table, and a salad or vegetable dish that you can munch. Vegetables give you the best chance possible to register fullness before overeating.
If you don’t succeed, be kind to yourself and keep trying. If you read my last article, you’ll know that food is purposefully manufactured to make you keep eating. It takes a conscious effort to re-establish healthy eating patterns, regulate your satiety hormones and eventually eat well without effort.