Since last week I wrote about "rejecting the diet mentality," I thought it fitting to keep going along with the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating which you can read a summary of here.
This is a big step for chronic dieters, myself included, but it's one of the most liberating experiences of adjusting to a more intuitive eating style. I'll never forget starting yet another diet in college and literally googling, "how to not eat when you're hungry." I'll never forget those words that seemed to bound off the page at me. "When you're dieting, you're going to be hungry. You just have to learn how to live with that feeling if you want to lose weight."
YIKES!!! I could go off on a tangent about thinspiration and ALL the problems that we as women, men, and transgender individuals develop out of hearing a biological and urgent need from the body and resisting it. We don't really do that with breathing or with peeing so I don't know why we insist on it when it comes to food. However, beyond the problematic social and political implications, honoring your hunger is good for you.
Here's my evidence:
1. Your body is smart. Listen to it.
I'm stealing these lines from my Whole Foods Market Wellness Club days but the human body is literally engaging in thousands of chemical reactions simultaneously. Even though medicine and biological science have come extremely far, we understand as much about how the human body works as an average person knows about rocket science. Prescription drugs often isolate 1-2 chemical reactions to treat a given symptom. I like to use the story of Viagra as an example for this because it was originally being tested as a drug to lower blood pressure. But then of course you know the rest of that story....
So, when it comes to eating, your body knows better than the latest fad diet. Because it's smarter than even some of the best and most well-paid scientists out there. And YOUR body will give you unique clues on how to feed YOUR body.
2. Restricting Food can actually lead to a binge.
This is something we often discussed at the eating disorder treatment center where I used to work. Ancel Keys study is most famous for proving that restriction can actually physiologically lead to a binge. You can read a quick excerpt about that here.
You can't trick the body into eating less food. The human body wants to achieve homeostasis. When you restrict calories all day long as many do while on a diet, when you get home, you want to eat everything that isn't nailed down in your house. This goes the same for all you lunch skippers out there. I know your TPS report is important, but if you skip lunch, that makes you a lot more likely to end up eating a burger for dinner even though you planned to eat salmon and quinoa salad. Your body will be begging you to make up for the caloric deficit. By eating before we are ravenously hungry, we actually set ourselves up to eat better food.
I'm definitely guilty of this here. When I used to have a more rigorous day job, I would often eat a light lunch that I had diligently packed the night before. I would most likely end up working late and ordering seamless on my way home because I was STARVING which usually meant the only thing that would satisfy was fried chicken and french fries.
3. When you restrict food, you can slow down your metabolism more.
Ancel Keys also proved this is his starvation experiment that our basal metabolic rate slows down during prolonged periods of starvation.
As many of the chronic dieters of the world know, even when you're perfect with your diet and you willpower your way through, eventually you plateau because your body figured it out and is working tirelessly to keep you alive. I've been through this myself. An RD put me on a 1200 calorie diet that helped me lose 4 pounds but after about 3 months, I was stuck. Eventually I gave up and sprang back up to what I affectionately call my "happy weight."
While I often tell my clients to avoid paying attention to the scale, listening to my body, eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full (that's a whole other blog post), has helped me lose weight. More importantly than that, I don't have to spend so much time researching my meals and my diet and my weight is pretty stable without me even having to think about it.
For real, eating should be like breathing. Just do it when you body says so.