If you eat when you are full, stop when you are comfortably full and have treats in moderation knowing you can always have more later then you are “naturally eating”. Your body will regulate your intake by telling you when you are hungry and how hungry you are. For a lot more info on this check out www.cedriccentre.com. I work with the Cedric Centre for counselling and their website has an abundance or information on the topic of food and body issues.
Many people don’t trust their body’s ability to tell them when they are hungry but if we really listen it will tell us. In contrast it is common for many of us to eat for emotional reasons rather than hunger and that’s when we are more likely to overeat. We aren’t listening to hunger in those moments, generally. Working through what the emotional piece is often alleviates the need to eat.
The same way that pregnant women are said to have strong cravings while in gestation, if any one of us start to listen to what we are craving we will learn a great deal about what our body wants, both in terms of the specific nutrients we crave and what our emotional needs might be. For example, I might crave a bag of chips after a particularly stressful day at work. This would likely be a sign of physical/emotional/cognitive fatigue more than my body’s need for salt, fat or simple carbs. The emotional “pay off” for having a treat may then bring with it more calories than my body could/would burn off in that day (eventually leading to weight gain if repeated over time) and may also leave less room for the more nutrient dense food that would supply my entire body system with what it needs to effectively carry out the physical and mental activities of the evening and next day, potentially leaving me more fatigued and less able to cope with work/relationships/daily life activities the next day and so on.
In my business I would call eating the whole bag of chips instead of (or as well as) dinner a negative coping strategy. It is a coping strategy because it helps me feel better in the moment but then there will likely be a physical and emotional fall-out from this activity if it becomes a regular coping strategy in my life, thus it brings problems with it and is not positive but negative.
Some examples of more positive coping strategies would include, rest, meditation, light exercise, talking to a friend, relaxation breathing, and having a really satisfying nutrient dense dinner. Implementing strategies like these in a way that is kind and compassionate to yourself is key to moving away from the all or nothing, typically restrictive thinking, that goes along with being on a “diet”.
Our media and societal learning includes the opposite of much of this “kindness to self” that I talk about and that is unfortunate. The harsh internal dialogue that goes on inside many people throughout their day is what leads to the fatigue and need to soothe with food at the end of the day (or in the middle,ha!). It takes so much energy and feels awful. ironically, this is often perceived as healthy thinking and its not.
“Natural eating” means being kind to yourself and learning to trust that you can make healthy, comfortable decisions around food in all situations.
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