3 ways to eat "normally" (that dieters just don't get)

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How to stop dieting and eat "normally". 

Three ways to normalise your eating habits, plus I talk about how our past dieting experiences may be getting in the way of a healthy relationship with food.

Transcript - you can read the blog instead if you like..

I’ve always been super health-conscious, which also meant that I was quite restrictive about what I ate.

It wasn’t until I started working on my relationship with food and unlearning certain beliefs about what healthy eating actually meant, that I reverted back to being a "normal" eater again.

When I refer to “normal eating" I’m talking about those people you know who can have two squares of chocolate and then wrap the rest up for later.

They don’t seem to have hang ups with food or their body.

They eat healthy food but then they like cake and burgers too. "Normal" eaters are generally in-tune with their bodies (and less obsessed with about food rules) and that’s exactly what we'll discuss in this video blog.

Confusing Nutritional Landscape

Before I share three key mindset tweaks, I want to say that I use to feel confused and overwhelmed too!

There are SO many diets with conflicting opinions about what you should and shouldn't eat.

The nutrition landscape is vast and nutritional science plays a part, but without a healthy relationship to food, eating healthy becomes rather difficult.  

When you can become more attuned to the messages your body is sending you (like hunger, fullness and satisfaction) you're able to respond in really useful and satisfying ways that are not only physical, but mental & emotional as well.

This is what we miss out on when we are so focused on eating "right"; eating sugar-free, fat-free, carb-free - we can be in our heads, instead of connected to our body.

Here are some key concepts that help to identify a connected and intentional approach to eating OR “normal eating”:

Note that this is how you probably used to eat before you started dieting!

1. Listening for feedback

Have you heard the phrase "listen to your body?" does it sound a little abstract to you?

When I say this phrase to my clients even I tend to slightly “bunny ear” the phrase.

Being able to sit with the feeling of fullness - maybe after eating too much birthday cake - and acknowledging that I feel 'uncomfortable', ‘stuffed’, ‘icky’, and that I don’t like feeling this way.

Maybe I would have preferred to stop eating 2 or 3 bites ago, BUT I’m gathering information so that I don’t continue to do this over and over.

Notice I didn’t jump to conclusions and think "I need to go for a run RIGHT NOW, or, I need to skip my next meal." 

I’m thinking in the grey, instead of black or white.

You know you better than anyone. You can flex your muscle of listening to your body, and you can use moments like "too much cake" as feedback to learn from so you don't need to get so attached to rules.

2. Balance and Variety

Our bodies want to survive and thrive - we are hardwired to do so.

When we attach to certain rules about food like no dried fruit, no dairy, no snacking we are starting to reducing our options for food! Humans don’t like to be told they can’t have something, especially something that keeps them alive.  

Variety and exposure to all foods is a step in the direction of normalizing. Giving ourselves permission to eat and enjoy food without guilt provides a much more balanced approach. The variety then gives us more options to respond with when we are listening and understanding our body and cravings.

3. Physical vs Emotional hunger

We don't just eat because we're hungry. We eat because the girl from Accounting made caramel slice!

Our food triggers are unique and personalized based on our past experiences. How often do you consider if your hunger will be feeding your emotions (or suppressing an emotion) vs feeding your body because you feel low on energy as a result of physical hunger?

When you practice an awareness of this physical vs emotional hunger you increase your ability to make conscious choices.

While practicing conscious decision making you find ways to switch and adjust habits. Previously you could have felt cornered into saying yes every time you are offered caramel slice at work, with conscious decion making you can align with what serves your needs. 

RECAP: 3 ways to eat normally without dieting 

We’ve talked about 3 ways to eat more in tune with your body:  

  1. Listening for feedback
  2. Balance & Variety
  3. Identifying Physical vs Emotional Hunger

By applying this thinking to your own relationship with food you might notice you can start to leave cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow.

Having a healthy relationship with food means you don’t need be told what to eat, when and how to eat. It means you have an ability to be intuitive about what your body needs in that that moment.

Practice these 3 ways to eat more in-tune with your body with the Intuitive Eating Journal, a simple tool to help you get your shit together around food.