According to a non-diet dietitian
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, 'What should I eat?' I'd be a millionaire. With so much focus in the media and our culture on the harms and benefits associated with different foods and patterns of eating it's not surprising that people are confused and worried.
But what if by thinking about the foods we eat we are focusing on the wrong part of the problem. Much like the man who fished the drowning villagers out of the river we are overlooking the very reason people are falling into he river in the first place.
So what should we focus on instead?
Tuning in to hunger
We should aim to eat when we are gently hungry but before that hunger becomes unbearable. Eat before you are hungry and its difficult to tell when you are full and therefore to figure out when to stop. But wait too long and you are likely to eat very quickly and past the point of comfortable fullness.
The ideal time to eat is when you are pleasantly hungry. This way you'll be able to enjoy the food you are eating and discern when you start to become full and satisfied.
Eating without distraction
Another important consideration is the impact that distractions have upon the way we eat. Have you ever been eating your dinner in front of the TV and realised you've eaten the full plate and are now uncomfortably full?
Eating while doing other things that take our attention away from food such as watching tv, reading, working, scrolling social media, listening to podcasts all take our attention away from what we are eating. The impact is that we are less likely to be aware of the taste, textures and aroma's of the food we are eating which can make it harder to be satisfied with what we are eating. Additionally, rather than stopping once we are satisfied and full we are likely to simply eat whatever is on the plate.
Foods which satisfy us
Here are two important questions we can ask ourselves to improve the satisfaction we get from our meals or snacks:
- What do I truly feel like eating?
- How do I want to feel when I finish eating?
These questions are important because we can be full (even uncomfortably full) without being at all satisfied. And all to often this happens when we make a decision based on what we believe to be healthier or more nutritious without giving any consideration to satisfaction. Have you ever really wanted chocolate or cake after dinner and had yoghurt instead (because it's the "healthy" choice)? Like me, then you may also have eaten the yoghurt, gone back for the chocolate (with a side of guilt) and then been so full that you felt sick.
Each of these factors are components of Intuitive Eating a process which helps you to reconnect to your innate wisdom. It is the framework that Andrea utilises when working with her clients.