mindful eating

Is listening to my body good for me?

Last week I talked about how we aren't encouraged to take care of ourselves. We want so badly to be productive, we ignore our physical needs. Even though productivity seems so important, so is taking care of yourself. Listening to our physical bodies can actually make us healthier. 

 It turns out that listening to your body is correlated with lower weight.  

One study found that people who are good at listening to their bodies tend to have lower BMIs (a high BMI is a risk factor for decreased longevity). Hard-working and self-sacrificing dieters love to believe that ignoring hunger is making them skinnier. This research says otherwise.

Physical self-care is a beast of its own. It includes eating, sleeping, exercise and rest. The best way to way to measure if we are getting enough is through listening. 

We are good at listening to our bodies if we consistently respond when we feel a physical need. 

Just like you go to a crying baby, we need to attend to the little cries of our bodies. Do you eat when you're hungry? Do you stop eating when you're full? Do you sleep when you're tired? Do you drink water when you're thirsty? Do you go to the doctor when you're sick? Do you floss when there's something stuck in your teeth? 

Every time we listen when our bodies call out for help, we build trust and intuition. The better we know our bodies, the more likely we can make them healthier. 

How to stop eating when you're full

I've talked about this before on the blog.

The holidays used to be horrible for me for overeating. I hated going to parties where there was a lot of finger food and nothing too hearty. I'd never get to the flatbread in time. So, cookies being my fave, I ate a bunch of 'em. Well past the point of fullness. 

Nowadays to avoid the terrible overly full feeling, I have a few strategies. 

Here's what to do to stop eating past the point of fullness (if you want to). 

1. Give yourself full permission to eat. 

This is the most important step. You can't do anything else on this list effectively unless you give yourself permission. 

Often times our subconscious minds tell us that this is our last chance to eat something. Meanwhile, our conscious mind is trying to get us to stop. 

This is part of the binge-restrict cycle. When we think we can't have something, we stop eating it. Then, when we face it, we feel like we can't have it. So we go craaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzyyyyy on it. It is, after all, our last chance. 

2. Eat when you're hungry.


This one is pretty intuitive. But diet culture teaches us that eating is bad in general. 

The worst line I ever read on a diet website was, "You're on a diet. You're going to be hungry. You just have to learn how to deal with it." 

Why? That's cray. Why would it be healthy to ignore a cue from your body. If I started bleeding out of my face, I wouldn't be like, "I'll just ignore this." So, why do we do this with food?

3. Pick foods that fill you up so you don't get voraciously hungry. 

 You can keep hoping that the ramen noodles you bought will last you until dinnertime. This would be a false hope, Luke Skywalker. (Get it?! A New Hope? #starwars #rogueone #nextweekend #nerdsarecool)

Dietitians love to show people this chart that shows how your blood sugar rises and falls.  In it, we see that carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, then fall. Protein lasts longer than carbs and fat lasts the longest. Fiber helps to sustain fullness for longer. Soluble fiber, found in most fruits and veggies, takes your body longer to digest. So, it hangs out in your stomach for longer. 

 An easy way to prevent yourself from overstuffing is by eating MORE at other meals. You can add peanut butter to your apple.  You can add hummus to your carrots. You can add chicken to your salad. You can just have a snack between lunch and dinner. 

4. Satisfy your Cravings. 

See #1 again. 

Satiety can also be psychological. For example, if I'm craving a hamburger, I usually don't feel "full" until I get that burger. I can snack all night on mango slices and never feel "full" because I never let myself just have what I wanted. 

Sometimes it's better to have the real thing. I can tell you from experience that you can eat all the different varieties of vegan macaroni and cheese. It just doesn't satisfy like the real thing. 

 By all means, don't hurt yourself. I do not recommend eating something you're allergic to. Anaphylactic shock can kill you. Overeating is less likely to kill you. 

5. Give yourself time to eat


In today's busy world, we often don't have time to eat. We eat while we're working. We eat while we're driving. We eat while we're watching tv. We eat while we're trying to do something else. 

Not only is that a recipe for indigestion, but it's also a way of disconnecting you from your body. Chewing is hard to do while shoveling a sandwich down during a long commute. Chewing is an important part of digestion. Without it, you might feel bloated. 

 If you sit down to a square meal, you might find it more satisfying. 

 6. Make a plate

Sometimes putting food on a plate shows us how much food it is so we can feel like we actually got a square meal. 

When I get a hankering for snackies, I find it useful to fill up a bowl or a plate with said snackies. As with holiday parties, sometimes snacks don't seem like they can add up to a meal. But, they can. It's a fine way to eat a meal. That's why the Spanish love their tapas. 

7. Listen to your body

Overeating is often symptomatic of other issues. 

It could be the result of not feeding your body when you were hungry. It could be the result of not satisfying a craving. It could be feelings. You could be in a rush and not have time to chew. 

Overeating is just eating more than your tummy can hold. Slow down and try to listen to your body when you're hungry and when you're full. 

You don't have to sit down on a meditation pillow and chant oms between each bite of food. Just remember that eating is about taking care of yourself. 

You don't have to feel shame about eating. You don't have to eat in a rush. You don't have to eat food that you hate. You CAN eat food you love. You CAN take time for yourself.  You CAN eat food that makes you FEEL better. No shame necessary. 

Most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. It's just a little too much food. 

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