When undergoing a weight-loss journey, the hardest part of the equation is typically food. While shifting your mindset from weight to well-being and finding an exercise that you enjoy can be a challenge, they appear to come easier than taking a look at our eating habits and tweaking them to encourage weight-loss. This may be due to the reality that food is a source of life, so we are in continual need of it, it is often involved in our social events, and it gives us a hit of dopamine, which makes us feel good when released! Before continuing, it is important to note that dieting and food restriction can be a slippery slope resulting in disordered eating and anxiety around food. With this in mind, please walk this path slowly and steadily, making small consistent changes, for high impact end results. Our mental well-being is just as important as our physical health and if our weight-loss journey’s are hindering our mental state, it is time to reevaluate the weight-loss approach.
Although eating habits vary from person to person, it is safe to say the majority of us are eating foods that are not serving our bodies. By that I mean we eat food that has little nutritional content and we are eating too much of it. It is important to enjoy foods that may be viewed as unhealthy from time to time for pure enjoyment, but the amount at which we are indulging may need to be altered to achieve our weight-loss goals. To discover which foods are serving us and those that are not, we need to tune into how we feel after consumption. By practicing mindfulness and becoming aware of our bodily sensations while eating, we are encouraged to continue consuming the healthy foods that make us feel good, and discouraged to resume stuffing our faces when our body is saying no more. Our bodies are often communicating to us, it is important that we tune in and listen!
Listen to your body
We can listen to our bodies in three practical ways:
- Simply asking ourselves how we feel after eating. Some examples of these questions are: Do I feel energized? Do I feel satiated? Did I eat too much? Is there pain in my stomach? Do I feel happy? Did the food I eat serve me? (If you had a great time with friends, enjoying the latest food trends then the answer can be yes!) If I feel guilty, why do I feel guilty? If what I ate was unhealthy, did I truly enjoy it? (The answer can also be a yes!) If writing down these questions and answers is helpful, feel free to do that to see patterns within your relationship with food.
- Eating only when we are hungry. It is so easy to eat at noon just because that is the time of day we are “supposed” to eat lunch. However, your body might be showing signs of hunger at 11:00. If you are able, nourish and feed your body then. Or noon may roll around and your body is still satisfied from your breakfast or morning snack. In that case, opt to eat lunch a bit later. By listening to our hunger cues we are less likely to overindulge and are creating a healthy, positive relationship with food by trusting our bodies hunger signals!
- Lastly, honouring our cravings is a great way to listen to our bodies. This is not a permission to eat every piece of junk you have a hankering for, but rather to sit with your cravings and think, why am I craving this food? What is my body trying to tell me? Personally, when I am really craving candy it is often when I am feeling stressed and need something to make me feel good. In these situations, the best option for me is to grab some fruit and tell myself, if I am still craving this tonight, I will pick up some candy that I really enjoy, making it “worth it”, instead of indulging in whatever may be lying around. Often, by that point the craving has subsided and what I really need to do is go to the root of the issue and work on managing my stress levels. On the flip side, if the craving is still there, I will make a conscious decision to enjoy in moderation.
Find the answer within
As there is not a one size fits all meal plan that will promote weight-loss, we need to stop hopping in and out of the diet train and find the answers from within ourselves by listening to our bodily signals. The diet industry wants you to keep losing weight and gaining it back, so you find yourself spending more money on the latest fad in the hopes of finally keeping it off this time. Our bodies are our constantly communicating to us and when we bring presence and consciousness to the equation, we are able to make small consistent changes that will help us in our weight-loss goals! Remember, slow and steady wins the weight-loss race. The faster it comes off, the faster it can come back on. Cheers to creating a healthy relationship with food!
Do you have a tip for creating a positive relationship with food? I’d love to hear about in the comment section below!
About the author: Amanda Gould is a MAPP distance student at Buckinghamshire New University, living near Toronto, Canada. You can typically find her running, drinking a smoothie, or figuring out new ways to live her best life!