- Skip meals frequently, trying to keep your calorie intake in line, often missing breakfast and maybe lunch, only to overeat at night?
- Eat lightly at meals only to find yourself shortly thereafter searching the fridge?
- Feel guilty when you eat foods you think you shouldn’t?
- Feel guilty when you think you ate too much?
If so, you’re not alone. Whether you’re at the office or a cocktail party, you’ll probably find others who eat like you. It’s certainly typical of the woman we see at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
And typical of the woman who sees her weight climb year by year.
There are other reasons people gain weight, but the diet mentality is a major one for many women.
Here are our steps for where to start to turn that scenario around.
It starts with learning how to eat. Because that can help you better decide what to eat for health and healthy weights…and then actually do it.
Step #1: Shift your food ‘tude.
Toss that forbidden food list – the one that invariably includes many of the foods you love but feel like you shouldn’t eat. Adopt an “all foods fit” philosophy and then refine it by staying in touch with how the foods you eat make you feel.
You may find that some foods don’t fit – you don’t like them or they don’t make you feel well. But your decision to not eat them will be yours, not someone else’s, and that can make all the difference.
For example, say you’ve spent a lot of time trying to avoid ice cream because you think it’s high in calories. But once you begin to eat it without worrying about calories, you discover you don’t like ice cream, at least not in the amounts you used to eat (yes, it does happen).
Voila! You naturally don’t eat as much of it because it doesn’t please you.
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Step #2: Eat regularly.
If you don’t like breakfast, okay. But be sure to eat when you get hungry. Most of us will find that we do get hungry within a few hours after waking.
The problem with going too long between meals – which generally means we are ignoring our hunger cues – is that we end up too hungry when we finally eat. Then we tend to eat a lot, followed by worry that we ate too much. And that can lead to eating even more out of feelings of failure or guilt.
Short circuit that worry by listening to your body’s cues for eating.
Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied. Sometimes you’ll eat more than at other times; that’s your body’s way of meeting its needs.
If you don’t have a good awareness of your cues, eat on schedule for a while (breakfast, lunch and dinner and a snack or two if necessary) and use this hunger scale. You can soon find that your body starts to clearly tell you when it needs food and when it has had enough.
If you binge eat, this may sound like a fantasy. See below.*
Step #3: Eat balanced.
Here’s where what to eat comes in.
You want a mix of different types of foods throughout the day – fruits and vegetables, protein foods, and grains/starchy foods. With some fun food thrown in there, too, if and when you want it.
But deciding what to eat is definitely the third step in this process.
Because just changing your attitude about food and starting to feed yourself regularly can often deliver much more immediate benefits than worrying whether you are eating white or whole grain flour, salads or steaks, apples or hot fudge sundaes.
That’s because steps 1 and 2 can make a world of difference in how you feel.
And they can set you up for eating more healthfully because your body can more accurately tell you what it needs. That can drive what you want.
Eating healthfully is about learning how to listen to your body and be aware of your thoughts about food and eating. Mindful eating is a great strategy for doing that.
Bottom line: Get the “how” in line and the “what” becomes much easier.
Actually, once the how is straightened out, the what often takes care of itself naturally. And that can be a big boost to achieving and maintaining your natural, healthy weight for the long run.
*If you are struggling with an eating disorder such as binge eating disorder, seek professional help. The approach to eating may include much of what I’ve said above but how you get to that point can differ.