If you have been ordering your life around dieting, measuring your self-esteem by your waist-line,, suffering with weight or body image, an Eating Disorder or always had a longingness to be thinner living your life through restriction, this can make you quickly loss the ability to trust your body, trust food and completely lose sight of what is considered to be ‘normal’.
Less than 50% of people suffering with food issues will ever fully recover!
With dieting culture completely manipulating our minds and making us believe that dieting is the answer to our problems at work, home, school, our health- who knows who to eat healthy these days?! The idea of normal eating is a bit loose as everyone is different and I really believe that there is not such thing as normal eating, it is way to hard to define but if I had to it is finding a way of eating that makes you feel good, gives you energy and keeps you healthy.
Here are 5 principles to help you rediscover how to eat normally or in a way which will give you all of those things:
1. Look at what is not normal in your eating habits
Write down everything that worries, concerns or frustrates you about your eating habits- half the time we can get so lost in what normal is, we have to start by realising what is abnormal:
· Fear around eating certain foods
· Obsessive ideas about the quantity or quality of the foods we eat
· Obsession around calories or macros
· Eating is being driven by a fear of weight gain
· Anxiety around mealtimes
· Erratic eating- sometimes not eating very much and other times eating too much
· Compensating for how much you have eaten
· Lots of food rules and good or bad foods
2. Consistency is key
With everything in life, to make changes permanent you have to be consistent. Many of our behaviours around food can be erratic in terms of how much you eat and when. To move towards normal eating there has to be a structure in place. This is kind of like retraining your mind and body to know when it is time to eat. This takes some practice but it is amazing how fast your body will get on board.
This will look at 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, eating every 3-4 hours. This may seem like a lot if you have been in restriction but rather than focusing on quantity to start with just eat something small and build up- your metabolism will kick in very fast if you do this slowly and your gut will get used to handling more food.
This tells your brain that food is no longer scarce, there is no threat and it does not need to kick up a tantrum in terms of extreme hunger or binge urges. This is essential because your brain is looking to keep you safe and has most likely up until now seen food = danger. Consistency in your eating will give your brain reassurance to everything is ok.
3. No food is off limits
Having food rules or banning certain foods from your diet is another form of restriction, even if you are eating what you believe to be normal outside of this. Remember as soon as you have even a little bit of that forbidden food, your brain will be going; “shit we have had this in a long time, we best stock up on it as we don’t know when we are going to get this again”. I know it can feel scary to let go of your food rules, but again take it slowly. Eat your safe meals and every week at in 1 off limits food- I’m not talking you have to go nuts on burger and chips, just to begin to re-introduce them.
When I was in recovery I would start but using the rule of 3 = 3 bites of my scary food. 3 bites is enough for your brain to remember it has eaten it before and also gives you the confidence that nothing bad is going to happen! With more confidence comes the ability to then increase this. But again- slow is best to give your brain the time and reassurance it needs to know there is no threat.
4. Focus on balance not calories
I like to call this the fun food principles to help you shift your focus away from calories. So, according to Ayurveda science there are 6 tastes we need to be nourished, feel satisfied and be healthy. These 6 tastes also have a huge effect on our physiology:
1. Sweet- complex carbs such as sweet potato, rice, root vegetables, fruits
Flavour of love, sharing and compassion
2. Sour- yoghurt, citrus fruits, cheese, sourdough bread, soy sauce
Stimulates digestion and awakens emotions
3. Salty- grounds the nervous system and encourages stability
4. Pungent- chilli, ginger, black pepper
Stimulating digestion and metabolism
5. Bitter- green, leafy veg, coffee, tea, spices like turmeric, dandelion
Help with water retention and removes toxins
6. Astringent- dryness, cranberry, beans and lentils, asparagus, broccoli, quinoa, coffee, tea, crackers
Supports wound healing and swelling
These 6 tastes satisfy each major nutrition group and trying to include these 6 tastes into each meal it ensures that our body is receiving the right energy. This was a game changer for me, the difference in my energy levels and how I felt physically was huge!
5. Use a hunger and satisfaction scale
We are growing up today basically being taught from a young age to stop listening to our intuition. So we have to practice getting back in touch with our bodies. Start by viewing your hunger as a scale of 0-10, 0 being no hunger, 10 being so hunger you could eat your own hand.
Throughout the day check in with yourself, by placing one hand on your body and asking where you are on the scale. Ideally we want to start eating when we are at a 4/10 and stop when we are at an 8/10. Any more we are getting into the territory of; “I’m starving and I have to eat the first thing I see”. Any less and we will not be able to sense when we are hunger and when we are not.
Again, this takes practice, but the more you do this the more comparisons you will have over the course of the day to decide on how you feel and what number this equates to and when to stop eating so you are comfortable and not overly full or still hungry. Again, this is giving your brain the reassurance it needs that food is not scarce and there is no threat anymore.
Follow these 5 principles to start to retrain your mind and body, build trust and give your brain the reassurance it needs that there is no danger around food. These principles take practice so don’t think you have to put them all into practice at once, that can feel overwhelming. Ask yourself; “if there was one principle I could put into place tomorrow that would feel ok to start with what would it be?” There is light at the end of the tunnel, this is not your fault, the concept of normal eating has been destroyed and replaced with dieting culture, so this is something most people will struggle with. But you can take control and take-action using these 5 principles.
Any questions or need some help putting these into practice contact me at:
0432 445 320