Recognise that diets don’t work long term! Realise that you never failed at a diet, dieting is often the trigger for overeating! And with each new diet the feelings of deprivation rise, the number of food rules rise, the periods of under eating rise, the anxiety over maintaining that willpower rise…. until our biological primal drive to eat takes over and it all comes crashing down!
After a period of self-criticism you start this cycle all over again.. AND yet research tells us that dieting causes harm. So throw away your diet books, get angry with what the media tells you and find peace and enjoyment in food.
If you ignore your hunger your body interprets this as ‘famine’ and will trigger powerful biological mechanisms to drive eating and often this eating episode is frantic and all ‘good intentions’ are quashed.. IT IS NOT because you didn’t have willpower BUT because your evolutionary primal drive to eat is overpowering. Nourish your body and mind with adequate energy and carbohydrate. Learning to respect this biological drive is the first step in rebuilding your trust in your body.
Make peace with food and realise ALL foods can be enjoyed. Telling yourself you can’t eat or shouldn’t eat a food can only lead to cravings and intense desire to eat it that can often lead to bingeing. Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat allows you to rediscover the joy of eating what you want, when you want, without any feelings of guilt and when you achieve this, food loses its power.
Remove the rules and all moral values attached to foods. What you eat does not define who you are! Banishing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ thoughts around food and removing the guilt can help remove the weight cycling we regularly experience when dieting.
Have you ever eaten an apple when you really fancied a chocolate biscuit? Did it hit the spot? Or perhaps you have found yourself searching for a little something else despite being full after a plate of salad and chicken? Often when we are not satisfied after a snack/meal we go on the hunt for something else and often eat more of the food regardless of how full we are. Learn how to rediscover the pleasure of the palate and appreciate the satisfaction of eating what you really enjoy.
Remind yourself what fullness feels like and learn to tune into and listen to this. After years of dieting you might not even be able to describe what comfortable fullness feels like, yo-yoing instead between hunger and then overeating. To get the most out of eating it needs to be a conscious activity without distraction and with true belief you can eat whatever you want.
Understand how you can show yourself self-care and remove the reliance on food to numb or distract yourself from unwelcome feelings. Fill your emotional toolbox with other self-care strategies that can support your health goal.
Your genetic blueprint determines your weight! Stop determining your worth based on a number on the scales. Respecting your body allows you to respect who you are and whilst you might never love your body, can you find a truce and realise just how wonderful you are?
Move to make yourself feel good rather than counting the calories you just burned. If exercise is purely what you must do to lose weight you won’t be motivated to exercise for too long especially when the weight loss stops - which it will do! Instead detach exercise from weight, ditch the fitness trackers and listen to your body to find out what movement makes you feel good.
Choosing foods that help care and nourish your body and health is obviously still important. Intuitive Eating does not encourage people to eat unhealthy and research shows that Intuitive Eating is associated with improved nutrient intake and eating a wider variety of foods which will help support your overall health risk.