Let’s talk about wanting to lose weight because you believe your body is reacting to its excess weight. You all know by now that I don’t feel dieting is the way to arrive at your natural weight. Dieting is actually more harmful to your body and causes weight gain in the long run among many other things.
I understand that most people associate common issues like joint pain, elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, acne, foot issues, GI issues, etc. with excess weight. I want to be clear that while weight may be a contributing factor, it isn’t always the cause of these issues. I realize this goes against what 99% of the medical professionals will tell you, but there is groundbreaking evidence to refute this in the two books Health At Every Size and Body Respect. I highlighted both these books in my online course Emotional Freedom from Food.
There are plenty of people who are considered to be at a healthy weight based on the BMI that struggle with many of the issues I listed above. Thin doesn’t always equal good health (or less joint pain). This is a myth.
If you’re struggling with health issues and believe that your weight is to blame, I want you to consider the following before you think that weight loss is going to cure all that ails your body.
- Gluten – Gluten is inflammatory and has been known to cause joint pain and inflammation in the body if your body has a sensitivity to it.
- Grains – Very similar to gluten, grains also cause an inflammatory response for people that are sensitive to it.
- Night shade veggies (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, etc) – These veggies also cause inflammation for those who are sensitive to them.
- Anti-inflammatory diets rich in omega 3s have been known to reduce the body’s overall inflammation levels.
- Try glucosamine to help naturally reduce inflammation.
- Engage in low impact movement such as swimming, yoga, walking instead of running or other exercises that are tough on the joints.
- Try alternative healing modalities like acupuncture and Reiki that help to move the energy (or Chi) in your body leading to better overall health.
- Practice meditation daily to help reduce stress which benefits your whole body. Stress causes joint pain and stiffness in the body.
- Journal, get support, pray, seek balance and engage in massive amounts of self-care.
Remember that a huge piece in understanding Intuitive Eating is learning how the foods you’re eating make your body feel. Some of this may be felt immediately after eating foods, but some may be more subtle in the form of inflammation, moods, breakouts, etc.
Discerning which foods work for your individual body is key to feeling your best. Reducing stress is essential for overall heath and needs to be looked at carefully whenever symptoms or illness are present.
Self-care including movement that feels good for your body, reducing stress wherever possible, consistency, support and patience are your answers for arriving at a healthy weight. Diets provide temporary fixes and ultimately make you gain weight in the long-run causing more distress in your life.
One of my clients asked me today if I used to eat past fullness often. After nearly falling off my chair, I said “Um, yes!”. The truth is that I used to eat past fullness often. In fact, back in those days, being overly full (like stuffed sausage full) was an every day occurrence.
- It didn’t matter to me that I was physically uncomfortable from eating so much.
- It didn’t matter that my clothes were pinching my waste and causing me genuine pain and discomfort.
- It didn’t matter that I knew how crappy I would feel if I continued.
- All that mattered was that I had food left on my plate and that meant that I had a “right” to eat it.
Yep, I had a serious case of Clean Plate Syndrome for sure!
Learning to honor our fullness takes time and practice. And, guess what, even when you’re practicing intuitive eating, there will still be times when you will eat past fullness. That’s expected and not something that you need to worry about. While it’s difficult to give you a percentage or an exact number of times per week, I would say that if you’re eating past fullness more than a few days a week, I’d start paying closer attention.
When I say pay closer attention I’m suggesting you consider the following:
- Are you waiting too long before you eat causing you to feel overly hungry when you do eatwhich may be causing you to scarf down your food?
- Are you eating foods that you’d previously restricted? If so, that very often leads to overeating once you’ve allowed yourself those food(s) again.
- Could you be eating past fullness because it’s a habit and experiencing less fullness makes you feel uncomfortable?
- Do you also struggle with Clean Plate Syndrome and have a hard time leaving food on your plate because of all the starving kids in _____________?
- Are you eating past fullness because it makes you feel safe and secure?
Keep in mind that if you’re new to intuitive eating you will often (if not always) eat past fullness. This is expected because you’ve likely been depriving yourself of food. Once you give yourself “unconditional permission to eat” many people go to town and stuff themselves for a while. Not everyone does this, but many do. I know that I did. It usually wears off and before you know it, you’re eating without conditions but to fullness which is ideal.
The other piece that people often forget is that just because we have unconditional permission to eat, not all foods will agree with our bodies. Part of this intuitive eating process is learning what foods feel good in your body and which foods don’t. So, especially in the beginning, treat this like an experiment. Explore different foods without judgment and be aware of how they make you feel after you eat them. Some questions to consider:
- Do you feel nourished after you eat them?
- Do they cause any digestive issues (bloating, gas, etc.)
- Do you feel weighed down and/or sluggish?
- Did you feel satiated after eating?
- Does the food make you feel anxious or change your mood in any way?
As I’ve often said, intuitive eating is more than just a “hunger/fullness” diet. It’s about tuning in to our bodies so we’ll know what foods make us feel our best. That may or may not include eating all foods, but the only way to find out is to first give yourself permission to try them all without all the previous restrictions/rules/guilt.
Do you feel that you’re eating past fullness more often than you’d like or are comfortable with?
I’ve been struggling with some strong emotions the past few days. Some patterns that I thought I had undone have resurfaced. This has left me wondering how far I’ve really come in my journey. Ugh!
Today I felt an important shift and I wanted to write about it because if I’ve learned anything in my journey, it’s that I’m not alone in my feelings.
We all have setbacks now and again.
We all sometimes think that we’re “cured” and that we’ve conquered all our demons.
You know what? We’re all on a journey with no final destination. We will continually be challenged in life and have things come up that we have to address…even when we thought we already had. Many of these situations will make us uncomfortable and make us question our progress. This is also part of our journey. While I will be the first to say that as we heal many of our challenges do often become easier to manage, that doesn’t mean that we’re impervious to feeling crappy sometimes.
It’s all okay.
What I was reminded of this week is that even though crap will continue to surface, I can still do my best to love myself unconditionally through it all.
I don’t have to get down on myself about it.
I don’t have to belittle myself by saying “You should know better by now, Michelle.”
Instead, I can be kind, self-compassionate, patient and love myself through the icky feelings while doing my very best not to judge myself.
This is where we see our growth!
Life will continue to challenge us. How we decide to treat ourselves during those challenges dictates how much healing takes place. I want to continue to heal and learn the lessons that life’s challenges are attempting to teach me even when I’m in pain and feeling crappy. I want to love myself under allcircumstances, not just when things are going my way.
After all, unconditional love knows no boundaries.
How can you love yourself more through your challenges?
I had an awakening today while I was chatting with a man at the gym.
He had lost a significant amount of weight. I congratulated him on his weight loss and asked him how he felt. His response was that “It’s easier to move around now.”
He went on to tell me that he lost if all by using a phone app called myplate.
After describing the app and how it changed his life, he went on to say that he was going out to have dinner with his children that night for ribs at a local place that I know serves fantastic food.
He added that he was eating very little today in preparation for tonight. When I asked him why, he said so that can eat all he wants tonight. Because this kind of conversation is my life’s work, I asked him a few probing questions just to get an idea of what his relationship with food is like now that he’s lost so much weight.
In a very casual way, I asked him if he eats past fullness, he replied, “Yes.” In fact, he said that he would eat until he was stuffed to the gills tonight at dinner and was looking forward to that. Then he added that he’d make up for the extra calories, since it’s a lot more than he normally eats, by going to the gym a few extra days this week.
After some more casual chatter, I asked him if he during his weight loss journey he was able to recognize when he was physically hungry, and he looked at me like I had four heads!
Now, to be honest, I’m used to this kind of reaction from people whenever we talk about food.
When I’m having discussions with potential clients, friends, or random people, and the conversation about food comes up, many are surprised when I tell them about how I found freedom from food. It’s so radically different than what they’ve been doing their whole lives and what we’re told to do in the media, that I’m used to this by now.
I’ve come to appreciate that my beliefs about dieting and about weight are not exactly mainstream, but they’ve helped me discover freedom from food after decades of being imprisoned by it, and that’s all that I concerns me at this point in my life.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years from my own personal experience and from coaching women that struggle with food is that they are out of touch with their bodies. So much so that they cannot even recognize when they’re physically hungry. To be clear, physical hunger is when your body is giving you some sort of physical cues that it needs to be nourished.
While not everyone experiences the same symptoms of physical hunger, here are some symptoms to be aware of:
- Difficulty concentrating; lack of focus
- Stomach pain or gnawing stomach (stomach grumbling)
- Headache or feeling light-headed
- Irritable mood
- Low energy
What I found so interesting about this conversation is that even after all this man’s weight loss, he still couldn’t recognize when he was hungry. Without a phone app, he didn’t know how to care for his body.
If you aren’t able to recognize when your body is physically hungry and are relying on a phone app or anything else outside of your body to tell you when you’re hungry, there will continue to be a disconnect between your mind and your body. As long as this disconnection exists, the chances of long-term weight loss are minimal to none. This is why over 95% of diets result in weight gain long-term.
The opposite of physical hunger is emotional (sometimes called biological) hunger. Emotional hunger surfaces when we want to eat due to something emotional that is going on in our lives. We’re usually devoid of physical hunger during these times and often times eat on “autopilot”.
These are some symptoms that will help you distinguish between physical and emotional hunger.
|Is open to different foods.
||Is for a specific food.
|Is based in the stomach.
||Is “above” the neck.
|Occurs out of physical need.
||Is paired with an upsetting emotion.
|Involves deliberate choices.
||Involves automatic or mindless eating.
|Stops when satisfied.
||Does not cease, even when full.
|Is based on eating as a necessity
||Promotes guilt & shame about eating
One of the criteria for having a healthy relationship with food is being able to recognize the differences between physical and emotional hunger. Extensive eating due to emotional hunger generally results in weight gain, shame, sense of failure, guilt and even depression and anxiety.
The more we learn to listen to our bodies cues for hunger, the more successful we will be in improving that mind/body connection.