Last week I filled you in on my newest adventure in “Getting Skinny” – Intuitive Eating. I realize my last post was a bit vague about what Thingenius, Intuitive Eating and Naturally Thin say about “getting skinny” without dieting, so I decided to share some highlights and other recent findings in this post.
First, let me begin by saying baby steps are ok. If you don’t trust you’ll make “good” food choices without counting calories, keep counting because this is a complete mind shift and it can be bit over whelming when you’re used to the structured eating diets provide, which is why I needed to develop the guide below (more on that later).
Taking it a meal at a time is perfectly ok too. One of the main things you need to remember is to set realistic goals for your body type. If you’re not petite and you’ve never been a size 2, 4, 6, that may not be a realistic goal for you. You also need to cut yourself a lot of slack as you go through this learning process, because it’s just that, a learning process where you will sometimes find yourself overeating. Just remember it’s about taking it a meal and/or a day at a time.
Although intuitive eating is really about being able to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, that does not mean that you can eat an entire supersized fast food meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still lose weight. It just frees you from the mentality that food is the enemy and makes you look inside yourself to address what you are trying to quiet within yourself through food. According to Thingenius and Intuitive Eating, the combination of our fast paced world and dieting mentality, has lead us to ignore something we’ve had since we were toddlers – our ability to sense when: we’re hungry, full, what we like and don’t like. Instead distractions have led us to mistrust those signals and lose touch with them. As a result, we have to work at getting our body and mind in touch with our hunger and fullness levels again.
To that end, and thanks to Pipps Tips, mindfuleating.org, and Zenhabits, I was able to put together the following Intuitive Eater’s guide to help me quiet my mind and body enough that I can tune into my hunger and fullness levels at every meal.
Intuitive Eating 101
Mind and Body Prep:
Why are you eating?
Is it because it’s your lunch hour; you’re at a party/meeting with food everywhere; you’re bored/sad/happy - are you even hungry?
- Coming from the dieting mindset, I had a menu that told me what to eat and when to eat. Eating because I was hungry was never something I had to think about because when I was dieting I was always hungry and thinking about food. As I started trying determine whether I was truly hungry or just trying to quite my emotions, etc., I realized I was lost as to where to start and wanted to find a guide to help me make that determination.
- In came Pipps Tips blog and Pipps Tips Hunger Scale tool to help me do just that. You may be able to keep track of these items in your head, but I’m a visual person and needed something to make me stop, think and write out what I was going through, so this has proven to be a great help to me.
Always eat at a table and never multitask while eating.
Have you had to eat at your desk because you’re swamped with work and before you know it you’re meal is gone and you could swear someone came by and stole it? Welcome to my world of unconscious eating. I am the queen of multitasking while doing everything in my life, so focusing only on eating is a challenge for me, but one that I know will help me tremendously because I’ve found that by checking in with myself, I’m able to determine whether the hunger signal in my brain is true or based on some emotion seeking comfort.
- If it’s a true hunger signal, then checking in further leads me toward searching for foods that sound good and leave me feeling good vs. grabbing fast food because I’m starving and need food that I can scarf down now.
- Then the actual act of removing myself from my car, desk, couch, kitchen counter and sitting down to eat at an actual table allows me to stay connected enough to feel my fullness by pausing throughout the meal to ask myself how the food tastes (still a 10 in taste meter or losing its satisfaction level) and what my current fullness level is (still hungry or have I quieted my initial hunger level – trying to remember that I can stop eating and come back to it later because it will still be there)
Always eat off plates
Studies have shown that visual stimuli plays a part in our bodies deciding just how full or hungry we are, which is why we should never eat anything out of a box or bag.
- Instead place it in a bowl or on a plate so that your eyes and mind are fully connected to how much you’ve eaten.
- If portion control is as much an issue for you as it is for me, you might find the 50-80 Rule from mindfuleating.org a great method of mindfully controlling your portions and servings.
Here are the details of the 50-80 Rule:
- When you use this Rule, remind yourself that you can go back for as many helpings of food as you like.
- On your first helping, put food on your plate so that 50% of your plate is still visible. In other words, the food should cover only 50% of your plate, leaving the other 50% exposed.
- Eat the food mindfully, carefully, attentively. Use the Basic Mindful Bite as much as possible. This is the key step. You want to make this first serving last as long as possible. You want to give your system time to begin digesting what you’ve eaten. When you do this, you allow a smaller portion of food to be satisfying to your hunger.
- When you’re done with your first serving, you may go back for seconds. When you go back, however, you’re going to have a much smaller helping. For this serving, put only enough food on your plate so the 80% of your plate is still visible (only 20% of the plate is covered by food). Eat this serving mindfully as well.
- You may have thirds, fourths, etc., but be sure to follow the “80″ Rule for these servings and eat them slowly and attentively.
- If you take dessert, use a smaller plate (like a dessert plate) and follow the “80″ Rule.
Decide what “full” looks like.
If you’re using Pipps Tips Hunger Scale, something you created or just keeping mental notes, try to decide what number or feeling you want to be at when you’re done with your meal, before you begin to eat it. Keeping that number/feeling in mind as you eat will hopefully keep you from feeling stuffed at the end of the meal and may help you get used to eating to that fullness level every time you eat.
Chewing, Savoring, & Enjoying your meal one bite at a time.
I now never save the best part of my meal for last. I’ve found that eating the best part of my meal first, helps keep me from overeating. Who knew…so if dessert, the steak or baked potato is what you really want to eat off your plate, eat that first and see if you still want the other items on your plate.
- Once you decide which food you want to eat, chew it slowly and really feel the texture of the food, using all of your senses to really taste and enjoy every part of your meal. Until I starting this exercise, I never knew how much I really enjoy the texture of food, so much so that sometimes wanting the texture made me eat beyond my fullness level – crazy!
- I’ve also found that really savoring food has made me realize that some of the “bad/fattening” foods I craved when I was on a diet didn’t taste as good as I remembered. I’m not trying to say that you’ll no longer enjoy your favorite ice cream, but you may be able to live without mozzarella sticks.
- Since according to mindfuleating.org it takes about 20 minutes for our food to begin to work its way into our system, I’ve made it my goal to have every meal last 25 minutes vs. the 10-15 minutes they last now (unconscious eating and waiting until I’m starving have played a big role in those numbers).
- To help me do this, I’ve decided to start putting my fork down between bites to keep me completely in the experience of eating a bite at a time vs. focusing on gathering up my next bite.
- Then before gathering my next bite at the half way point (about 12 minutes in), I’m turning back to Pipps Tips Hunger Scale to see whether I hit the goal number/feeling that I set prior to the meal to see if I’ve reached my fullness level and I’m also looking at how much food I have left on my plate to see whether I need to slow down or not. I know it seems like a lot, but it’s not. Just last night I was out to dinner and happened to sit across a “skinny” girl who did this through out her meal so it must work.
- If your meal consists of “finger foods,” don’t panic. Just pick it up, take a bite and then put it down until you’re completely done chewing and enjoying that bite.
Step away from the food
Once I’ve reached the goal number/feeling I set for myself at the beginning of the meal or I hit my 25 minute mark, I stop eating. I get up and take my plate to the sink or put my leftovers away in a to go box. I highly encourage you doing this because studies have shown that when we have food in front of us, we tend to eat it regardless if we’re really hungry or not.
- If dessert is your thing you can give yourself an extra 10 minutes to eat it. Again, make sure you have a goal number/feeling in mind before you start eating the dessert and that you take your time to enjoy it.
That’s it! And as I struggle through breaking my old “dieting” habits and replacing them with intuitive eating habits, I’ll keep you posted on my struggles/successes/learning points.
Have a great week! And remember…it all starts one meal at a time.