Two Things. How to eat and how to manage stress. (I wrote about 2 year olds, knives and stress last week)
Let’s take a moment to imagine 3 year old Suzy, who was just playing a minute ago, when all of a sudden she is standing next to you saying “eat”. Food didn’t occur to her until something in her little stomach told her to stop and seek food.
So you place her in the high chair, with her favorite foods. She eats for a while then looks up at you and says “all done”. You notice she hasn’t finished everything. You try to coax her to eat a little more. She takes one more bite for you. You try again, she clamps down and turns her head as if to say, “enough already.”
What has happened is little Suzy is using her natural instincts to tell her when to look for food and when to stop eating. This is something that we are born with. Something that does not leave us. The problem is, we mess with this mechanism all the time with our diets and food rules.
Always eat within an hour of rising to jump start your metabolism
Never eat after 6pm
You should eat 5-6 small meals a day
You should eat 1200 calories for weight loss
What’s wrong with this?
It disturbs our natural instincts. What if you’re not hungry first thing in the morning? What if you don’t go to bed until 11pm or midnight and you are genuinely hungry. What if you are not hungry at 4pm when it’s time for your mid-afternoon snack?
Your body has been perfectly engineered. It is equipped with a flawless system that tells us that we are hungry. Maybe it looks like the sudden awareness of food, even though you are engrossed in a good book. Or the classic stomach growl, or a slight lightheadedness. All of these things (and more) give us signals that it’s time to eat, that the body has used the food you gave it and we should look for some more.
The signals on the other end are much more subtle and require some thoughtfulness at first. The awareness that you are satisfied (regardless of how much food is still in front of your). The slight sensation of the fullness of your stomach. If you have been dieting or ignoring your body for years, it will take some time and attention to notice these signals, but it’s doable.
A word of caution: for those who have been used to restricting, asking yourself to stop when you get the signal may cause a some anxiety. There is no need to rebel here. Know that you can always eat again when you are hungry. You can also choose to keep eating, but recognize that that is a choice you are making.
The experiment for this week is see how many times you get to +2 or +3 on the hunger-fullness scale and want to keep eating. What is the immediate thought or feeling when you reach that point? Are you feeling deprived, do you feel like you have to “get it right” and stop, even though you want to continue? Are you disappointed or surprised?
What comes up for you when you are physically satisfied and want to keep eating? Please share your comments below. I would love to help you work through them.