What Does Intuitive Eating Mean to Me?

intuitive eatingIntuitive eating as a concept can be so difficult to pin down or reign in. Many people think it’s just about eating what you want when you want to. Some think that it gives them the ability to eat cookies, cake and anything they supposedly crave.

Intuitive Eating is More Than Just Eating What You Want

As I mentioned before, many people think that intuitive eating is just an excuse to eat junk food. It’s not. Intuitive eating is a process of listening to your body and learning to give it the foods it wants and needs. For me, I eat intuitively now, but I eat more healthfully as a result. For me, it’s been the opposite of what most people expect to happen.

Trust me, before my bariatric surgery, I did ‘cheat’ a bit and ‘intuitively eat’ crap. I thought I needed cookies, ice cream and cake. I didn’t realize that I was medicating for an illness called borderline personality disorder. I am bipolar and have borderline personality disorder. It’s rough sometimes, but it doesn’t give me an excuse to eat like crap.

When I had the surgery and after working for many years with my nutritionist, Alexa Sparkman, I learned that my body intuitively wanted to eat good, healthy food. I now eat avocado, quinoa and kale regularly. I “crave” yogurt and granola – not the sugary stuff, the real good stuff with goji berries – more than I “crave” crap.

Cravings Can Give Us Information on What We Need To Eat

The interesting things about cravings are that they tell us what our body needs physiologically. Well, at least, to an extent. Usually we ‘crave’ salty or sweet. That’s what most people think of as a craving. They want something like cookies, cake, potato chips or pizza. Some people love ‘comfort food.’ However, our body is crying out for nutrition. Salt cravings could be satisfied with nuts or seeds or even a little bit of Himalayan sea salt crushed on your finger tip. Sugar cravings can be met with Stevia, honey or agave nectar. We don’t ‘need’ processed foods. Whole foods are more satisfying.

However, not everyone has access to whole foods. That’s a shame and a blight on our society. Intuitive eaters tend to ‘crave’ foods that will serve them not hinder them. Foods that come from a bag or a box are generally not healthy. They are stripped of nutrients. The body wants nutrition so it will crave more of this ‘junk’ food than it does of healthy food. Most intuitive eaters learn this.

How Can You Become an Intuitive Eater?

The first step to becoming an intuitive eater is to be aware of what you’re currently eating and why. You will also want to look at what you’re craving. Be curious about things. Don’t try to change your eating habits initially. The important thing is to understand what you crave and why. This way you can look for healthier alternatives. Intuitive eating is all about taking care of yourself and your body. It’s not about harming yourself with foods that will make you feel bad. An intuitive eater feels strong, healthy and happy. Food can be a great thing. You don’t have to be a slave to cravings. They can teach you what you need and you can also decide not to give in to them too.

Yup! It’s all about choice.

For more information on intuitive eating, check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/deannacgoodson/. If you want to work with me, give me a call at 512-484-7634.

What is Mindful Eating?

mindful eatingMindful Eating is a term that gets bandied about a lot in the self-help industry. Health and wellness professionals will talk about it like you’re supposed to already know what it is. Mindful eating is really just about being intentional about what you eat, how much you eat and if you are really hungry when you eat. Mindful eaters are in touch with their emotions and eat for the ‘right’ reasons – because they’re physically hungry. They also eat until they are full, but not uncomfortably so.

What is this mindful eating magic you speak of?

Truthfully, the way most practitioners talk about mindful eating is like it’s so special and magic. It makes many people feel intimidated. You would think you have to be the Dalai Lama sitting high in a mountain top in India, Tibet or Nepal, contemplating the mysteries of the universe and every grain of rice that’s about to go into your mouth.

NOPE. So not true. Anyone can practice mindful eating. You don’t have to have special knowledge. You can start today. Yes. I’m speaking the truth.

1st Step – Awareness

Yes, create awareness about food and mood. Knowing what mood you are in when you’re eating is an important indicator if you’re a mindful or emotional eater. Mindful eaters eat when they are physically hungry. The rest of us eat for a variety of different reasons, usually emotional. Learning to distinguish what emotions you are feeling when your desire to eat hits you is a great first step to becoming a mindful eater.

Wait – what if I can’t figure out the difference between food and mood?

That’s okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your journey to going from mindless eater to mindful eater. Be curious about the process and understand that it is a process. You’ll get there if you want to. It’s not an insurmountable goal.

2nd Step – Am I hungry?

This is a serious question. When you mindfully eat, you do so because your body is ready to eat. The human body tends to want to eat about every 3-4 hours. You will usually get signs that your body is hungry before you get into “HANGRY” mode. (You know that strange Snickers commercial series. It’s actually true. You are NOT you when you’re “HANGRY”.)

You will feel your stomach grumble and slightly protest that you are hungry. Your saliva will increase in preparation for food. There will be other signs and signals depending on your body’s needs and functionality. Basically food is needed every 3-4 hours. If you wait longer than 4 hours between meals, you are risking eating at a point past hunger and this can lead to an unwanted binge. Learning to check in with your body and seeing where you are on the hunger scale can be very helpful. (We’ll get more into the hunger scale in the future. I promise)

3rd Step – What Should I Eat?

If you are eating for physical hunger, this question is much easier to answer. You won’t just look for the quickest, most convenient thing to eat. You will want to make a healthy choice. Your body knows what it needs. Remember when you were a child and you ate when you wanted and pretty much what you wanted. Well, mindful eating is a lot like that. You become sort of child-like in your relationship with food.

I find that when I really listen to my body I crave nuts, seeds or veggies. Yeah, I actually like kale and quinoa better than cookies and processed foods. My body feels better after eating them and so does my mind. However, if you really want the cookies, go for them. No one is stopping you or policing your food choices. There are no good or bad foods. There are just foods that like us back or don’t like us back. The trick is to eat more of these in a given period than the others. Mindful eating is a great balancing act and one you can play around with. Find out what works for you.

4th – Eat Until Full

This part of mindful eating can be really hard to figure out. We want to overeat as a society. Yup. It’s not a great fact of life in North America in the 21st Century. We are members of the clean your plate club. Why? Some of us got messages as children that we needed to eat everything up because people were starving far away. Well, yes there are people starving, but it doesn’t help you to eat more food than you want to eat.

You will know you are full when you feel satisfied or satiated. Your stomach will not need any more food and you won’t feel uncomfortable. Your meal will energize and sustain you, not make your body complain with symptoms of gluttony.

Mindful eating is basically a process. It’s one that you can customize to fit your life. It talks about eating because you are physically, not mentally, hungry and allows you to decide what to eat and when. It’s not a system that’s rooted in guilt or reward but rather what the body needs when it needs it. Mindful eaters are not better eaters; they just understand their bodies better.

Want to learn how to become a mindful eater? Great! Contact me at 512-484-7634 and we will have a free intro session. I’d love to work with you.

Keep CALM with the CALM Plan

calm

The CALM plan is something I learned during the course of my support group workings with Alexa Sparkman. Alexa is a nutrtitionist in the Austin, TX area. She has a wonderful program called “Overcoming Mind Hunger.” You can visit her website at http://www.sparkmannutrition.com if you are interested in learning more about it.

What is the CALM plan

In her support groups, which I have taken multiple times, Alexa talks about the CALM plan for handling cravings.  There are four steps or actions to take with the CALM Plan. They are:

  1. Connect to consciousness – This is where your previous training comes in. Connecting to consciousness means that you are present in your mind and you know what’s going on. You are aware that you are having a craving.
  2. Alleviate anxiety – As an aware individual, you understand that you are having some difficulty overcoming this craving. You are able to regulate your emotional mind and get back into a calmer place. You can do this. You can overcome your craving.
  3. Logical liabilities. These are the lies you tell yourself to make it okay to emotionally overeat. For example, “I had a rough day, so I deserve that ice cream sundae.” As you go through the process, you will figure out what your logical liabilities are. Access them and let them have free reign. Tell them you know what they’re trying to do and they will go away.
  4. Mobilize and move on. Your craving, by this time, has probably passed. You can now go back to your life, craving free. Cravings don’t last and we don’t have to give into them just because we have them. You have a choice.

How can you use the CALM Plan to help you

The important thing for you to remember is that the CALM plan takes time to work. It is not a tool you can put in your toolbox overnight. Like anything worth having, it requires skill and practice. I cannow use the CALM plan when I have a craving. I know it will pass, usually in less than 5 minutes. I used to be scared of cravings. I am not anymore.

You can use the CALM plan. It will work. I promise. I will be offering my own support groups. They are six weeks long and free to the public. They begin the first full week in August (we skip Labor Day week) and then finish up around the 15th. I will have more information here and at my Facebook site.

I hope I can provide help for people the same way Alexa did for me. Good luck and keep ‘CALM.’

 

A New Look at Emotional Eating

emotional eatingI recently received an email from a coach who is a friend of mine. He runs a very special program, where you learn about metabolism and how the body works. It’s weight loss amped up and done in an intelligent and mindful manner. For more information on Belldon Colme, visit the website at: https://BelldonColme.net

I was struck by the title “Emotional Eating and How to Beat It.” You may or may not know that I was a strong emotional eater for a very long time. I got a lot of help in overcoming it. It wasn’t easy and sometimes, I do see myself slipping into the old, known ways of coping with stress and pressure. For me, a cookie used to be comfort; a pint of ice cream was like a hug. Life is not that way for me now.

The thing about Belldon’s post that struck me was that it was unique in its outlook. Not many people will give you straight talk about emotional eating. Why? They just don’t get it. Belldon does. I know he does. We’ve talked at length about it. Now, if you’ll bear with me, you’ll see what I mean.

In 2012, Belldon, who has been a coach longer than I have been, received a question from someone in his program. The person asked, “Do any of your successful clients ever cheat?”

You would think the answer would be a simple yes or no, but that’s not Belldon’s style. He is an information giver. He has studied nutrition, anatomy and physiology. He knows more about the metabolism than many doctors, surgeons and nutritionists. I’m not saying that lightly. I am being really honest. He has done the work. If you doubt it, just read his book, No One Ever Got Fat From Calories. I’m still working through it. In fact, I’m thoroughly digesting it. It’s an absorbing read.

Anyway, Belldon tells the person that they are thinking about food all wrong. Food is “an inanimate object. It’s not a thing you should be having a relationship with anyway.” How mind-blowing is that? He goes on to describe how people ‘personalize’ food. I know I did and sometimes, still do. We’re sort of taught to do that, aren’t we?

Regardless, eating or ‘cheating’ has consequences. You should be aware of those consequences. However, you make the choice on what goes in your body at a given moment. The choice is not made for you. “Cheating, shame and guilt make you think in absolutes.” Well, darn it. He’s right. Nutrition is a process. We need to eat to live and we need to do it every day. No one can be ‘perfect’ nor should they strive for it. Besides, what is perfect anyway? It’s a construct sold to us by Madison Avenue or a weight loss guru, or in many bariatric patients’ cases, a surgeon or even society.

We need to get out of our own way and remember that food does not have the power to help or hurt us. Food is just food. It’s fuel. It’s a necessary part of our lives, but it doesn’t have to be the most important part of our lives. Put food in its proper place and the rest will come.

Can you do that? I know I can.

Copyright 2015-2018 R Belldon Colme. All rights reserved. Do not reprint in any form, including electronic or digital reproduction, without the express written consent of R Belldon Colme. For more information visit BelldonColme.net