How to Eat Healthfully All the Time
Try these simple techniques to help you become an 'intuitive' eater
By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, LD, RD
We've all been there: Stuffed from dinner, yet still eating dessert or snacking mindlessly on a bag of chips in front of the television. Then, after the last bite, we feel frustrated, weak, and out of control.
Beating yourself won't stop it from happening again. To gain control over this kind of overeating and enhance your weight loss journey, you must learn how to intuitively eat for good health.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
To eat intuitively, you must stop obsessing over food and pledge never again to go on a "diet" (That's because dieting creates a preoccupation with food, making it the "enemy"). You must also work toward truly understanding hunger, fullness, and your feelings about food and your body.
Most of us aren't intuitive eaters, but fall into one of three other categories, according to Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, author of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works:
No matter what type you are, you can learn to eat more healthfully by eating intuitively, Tribole says. She offers a simple set of guidelines to help overcome the "disconnect" that most people have with hunger, satiety, and food:
To help you master these techniques, try rating your hunger on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being almost full and 10 being ravenous) every time you reach for something to eat. Ask yourself if you're really hungry, or if you're satisfying an emotion, bored, or simply eating out of habit. The closer you get to recognizing real, physical hunger, the more control you'll gain over your eating.
But, it's also important not to let yourself get too hungry. If this happens, you're more likely to make poor food choices, experts say.
"Try not to go more than four to five hours between meals," says Tribole. "Otherwise your ravenous hunger can result in a binge, and it is usually not a healthy one."
So plan in advance, always keep healthy snacks on hand, and schedule snack breaks to energize you and help keep your hands out of the cookie jar.
Also, say goodbye to wolfing down meals, and eating while standing up or in the car. Eating intuitively requires mindfulness. When you grab-and-go or gulp it down, you don't really taste or enjoy the food. This makes it almost impossible to recognize fullness.
Pamper yourself, sit at the table, use nice plates, put on some relaxing music, eliminate distractions, and enjoy the pleasure of the meal. I know this may not work for every meal, every day, but eat this way whenever you can.