Restricting food intake to lose weight is the common approach to becoming leaner. Yet, research consistently tells us that reducing diets are often unsuccessful and contribute to weight gain in the long run, to say nothing of depression and disordered eating behaviors. A growing body of research suggests that intuitive eating is a healthier alternative to current strategies of dieting to lose weight.
Intuititve eating is a sustainable approach that focuses on trusting your body to tell you how much to eat so you will stopping eating when you are full. Intuitve eaters eat for physical, not emotional, reasons.This is how normal-weight people tend to eat.
We were all born with the ability to eat when hugnry and stop when content. Unfortunately, our society’s food environment and lifestyle easily derail intuitive eating behaviors. We are often too busy to eat when hunger arises or fail to have food available. Many dieters even keep food “out of the house” due to lack of trust regarding their ability to stop eating when they are full. Fatigue and stress, in addition to the denial and deprivation associated with dieting, further compound the drive to overeat.
As a society, we need to step away from encouraging both young people and adults to diet and instead focus on—
1. teaching them how to eat mindfully (i.e., to connect with body signals: Does my body need this food?),
2. improving the food environment (such as having salad, not French fires, be the default side dish on menus), and
3. making sleep more of a priority.
As an adult, you can take steps to reclaim this innate behavior and teach yourself how to eat intutively so you can better invest in your health and well-being.
For more information, enjoy reading Intuitive Eating by EvelynTribole and Elyse Resch.
All too often, my clients report “I don’t keep cookies in my house. If cookies are there, I end up eating the whole package. It’s easier to not have them around...”
While that may seem a wise solution to the eating-too-many-cookies problem, depriving yourself of cookies tends to backfire. That is, when the opportunity arises for you to eat cookies, you likely end up eating the whole plate because this is your “last chance” to ever eat a cookie. “Last chance eating” leads to food binges, weight gain and feelings of being powerless over food.
An alternative to staying away from cookies is to eat cookies every day, at every meal. This will take the power away from them. Think about it. Do apples have power over you? Doubtful. That’s because you can eat an apple whenever you want. So why do cookies have power over you? Because you deny yourself the privilege of enjoying cookies from time to time. After three days of cookies-at-every-meal, they will likely lose their power.
If you liked cookies as a kid and like them now, you will undoubtedly like them in the future. How about trying to make peace with cookies?
"I am a bad evening eater even though I do quite well during the day. I'm trying to keep busy in the evenings so I'm not sitting around and snacking which is my downfall!"
When my clients report their eating is "good by day but bad by night", I notice they are "too good" by day-- that is, they are eating way too few calories. That is why they are starving at the end of the day and "being bad" in terms of snacking and overeating. The solution is to fuel by day (so you have the energy to exercise) and then eat just a little bit less at night.
Theoretically, if you create a small calorie deficit by knocking off 100 calories at the end of the day, you'll lose 10 pounds of body fat a year. If you create a 200 calorie defict at the end of the day, you'll lose 20 pounds of fat. To their demise, too many active people knock off 500 to 800 calories during the day, and then get too hungry, overeat at night, and then end up gaining weight. I recommend their eating be "bad" by day and "good" by night! That is, that they eat enough during the day to feel satiated, and then eat just a little bit less at night ... not to the point of being too hungry to sleep, but just enought so they are not quite full.
My Sports Nutrition Guidebook has a strong section on how to lose weight without starving yourself. The information teaches active people:
- how many calories are OK to eat,
- how to maintain energy to enjoy exercise while losing undesired body fat,
- how to manage snack attacks, and
- how to find peace with food.
In addition, you might want to meet with a sports nutritionist for personalized advice. This food expert can help you create a personalized food plan that's sustainable and will help you reach your goals. Use the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org to find a local sports nutritionist.
More often than not, the avid bicyclists I counsel express concern about the power to weight ratio. As one cyclist, Hal, explained to me. Nancy, biking is all about the power to weight ratio. Ill be more powerful on my bike if Im lighter. I really want to lose about 20 pounds so Ill be able to bike faster. I asked this lean man what his wife thought about this idea. He responded, She thinks Im crazy. I silently agreed with her; Hal didnt have 20 pounds of excess fat to lose.
I reviewed Hals eating patterns and made some suggestions to help him ride faster by being better fueled. In his efforts to lose weight, he currently was actively restricting his breakfast and lunch. No wonder he lagged on energy during his late-afternoon bike rides. He thought he was slow because he was weighed too much. I think he was slow because he was underfueled.
Ill see him for a follow-up consultation in a month. If hes like other cyclists, hell happily report, I havent lost any weight, but by eating better, Im much faster and Ive been setting PRs.