listen to your body, you will always know what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. When you look for input and feedback from sources outside of yourself, such as a scale, or a calorie counting chart, you usually end up gaining weight instead of releasing it because it actually prevents you from listening to the needs of your body. In fact, 95% of people who go on diets end up gaining all the weight back and then some (UCLA), so if you have tried and tried to lose weight, and feel like a failure who lacks will-power, you are not alone. Look at the obesity epidemic. It is directly correlated to the dieting epidemic.
So, how do we learn to listen to the needs of our body?
First, we learn to feel the difference between being emotionally hungry and physically hungry.
Physical hunger is when you actually need fuel for your body to function. Emotional hunger is when you want to eat, but your body is not actually hungry. The best way to do this is to allow yourself to get good and hungry and really tune into how it feels. Now that you know how physical hunger feels, next time you go to eat, tune in and see if you are hungry or if you are just tired, angry, lonely, stressed, bored, or_____________. As my favorite natural body builder, Tom Venuto says, "Hunger is the only problem food can solve," so if you want to eat, and find you are not hungry, this is a great time to find other ways to meet your emotional needs. One way of doing this is simply to stop, tune into what you are feeling and really allow yourself to feel it.
Where is it in your body? What shape is it? What color is it? When is the first time you remember feeling this way in your life? Take a moment to imagine that you are that age and just give yourself (at that age) a hug in your mind. Let him/her know you are there for him/her and it's OK to feel this way. Accept how you feel. Now, imagine the ideal state of this feeling and then tune into it. What shape is it? What color is it? Does it move? What is it's temperature?
When you do this, you will be amazed at the clarity that will come to you for solving your challenges in healthy ways instead of eating so you don't feel. Now, take a nice deep breath if that struck a chord with you. If you are just realizing that you eat so you don't feel, know that all humans find effective coping mechanisms for not feeling. Acknowledging and accepting that you do this, allows you to own your cravings instead of your cravings owning you!
Another way to feel your hunger is to see how long it takes after a meal to feel hungry again. Just watch the clock and commit to not eating until you are good and hungry. When that happens, don't limit what you allow yourself to eat, but instead, tune into how you feel up to two hours after you eat. How did the food make you feel? Was it energizing? Did it help you feel satiated? Did you feel full, but hungry? Is the food you are eating working for you?
Once you sense how long you typically go between meals, then you can have an eating schedule. Keep it loose so it doesn't become a rule (that you then may want to break if you're anything like me!), but instead, allow it to be a gauge. If you want to eat, and it's only been two hours since breakfast, you'll know, it's an opportunity to tune in and find out what you are really craving. A good way to do this is to simply say, "I really want some chocolate. Chocolate sounds so good to me right now. I really feel like eating chocolate. Maybe it's not really chocolate I want. What I truly crave is_______________." See what comes up, you might just be surprised at what you have been using food to suppress.
The great thing about learning to tune into your body is that after a time, you will no longer enjoy the feeling of overeating or going to bed on a full stomach. It just won't feel right and the weight will begin to naturally come off without ever weighing in, counting a calorie or limiting a fat gram! You will begin to sense the needs of your body. There is not one diet that works for all people. We are each biochemically unique and there is no outside authority that can tell you what or how much your body needs to be in the right shape for YOU.
If you'd like to do more discovery work in this area, check out my Trim-Life Program offered online or in my Bothell, WA office!
You might also like:
Can Weight Loss Goals Cause Weight Gain?
What's Up with Food Obsessions and Why do We Eat When We're Not Hungry?
Cravings S.O.S: My Secret Tools for Cravings Success
Maria Rippo is a Transformational Weight Loss & Wellness practitioner with an online and local practice in Bothell, WA. This article Copyright 2013 by Maria Rippo, all right reserved. To replicate or use any portion of this article, please do so in its entirety including this text or contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org