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Writing the Right Way

If you have ever tried dieting in the past, it is likely you have attempted at some point to keep a food journal.  In theory, this is a good way to hold yourself accountable for the food you’re eating, to notice when you may overeat, and to gauge any other patterns and habits that perhaps you weren’t previously aware of.  However like many things associated with dieting, it is hard to sustain in a real life situation for a long period of time.

While journaling can alert you to patterns, it can also cause you to become a little too obsessive over the food you are eating.  It can also create feelings of guilt when you look back to what you ate, or start a pattern of rationalizing about what you ate.  I would like to offer a new spin on the food journal that I think will help you with your intuitive and mindful eating journey.

Instead of chronicling every bite you eat, start journaling how you feel before and after you eat.  Writing down your feelings before you eat something will help you to tune into your hunger level and the reason you are eating.  You will be able to see if you are “famished” and recognize that maybe you waited too long to eat.  The pause to journal these feelings also gives you a moment to make a decision about what you want to eat.  It can help keep you from making an impulsive choice that perhaps is not the best for your health, or not really what you want to be eating at the moment.

If you journal how you feel after you eat, it can help you get a sense of your fullness level.  You will be more aware of whether you ate too much or stopped when you had just enough.  Writing down your feelings after you eat will help you learn the reasons why you might have finished what was on your plate even though you identified you were satisfied way before the plate was empty.

Journaling can definitely be used to help you stay healthy, but you’re better off using it to truly get to know you and your eating habits, rather than just writing down the details of the actual food you put into your mouth.  If you journal properly, you’ll get “write” to fixing some of your unhealthy habits, and be on the right track to wellness!

Your turn to take action: Do you keep a traditional food diary or a food feelings journal?  How does this help you on your journey toward intuitive eating?

Relax…and Enjoy Your Food

iStock_000019977922XSmallGiven my profession, I spend a lot of time speaking and thinking about food and how it relates to the lives of my clients.  However, what I have noticed when meeting with new clients who are coming to me from a place of chronic dieting, they too speak and think about food all the time, but they do it from a place of worry.  “What did I eat yesterday, what am I eating today, what will I eat tomorrow”.

This is exhausting, don’t you think?  Balancing life and responsibilities such as family, friends and work is often difficult and stressful in and of itself.  Food should not add to that stress.   Eating should be pleasurable.

As a reader of my iEat Mindfully™ blog, you are likely coming from a history of dieting.  A past littered with carefully laid out menu plans with just the “right” amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat.  A history that includes feelings of panic when you are in a restaurant or at a family gathering where the food served is not on your “plan”.  The amount of grief you give yourself in these situations takes away from all the pleasure you could be getting from your food.

By employing all the techniques I have been writing about such as slowing down, listening to your hunger and fullness cues, and using all your senses to enjoy your food, you are hopefully seeing that there is a place for enjoyment in food, even foods that were previously deemed “bad” in your mind.  And you know what?  It is okay to get excited about a specific dish at your favorite restaurant that you will be having tonight for dinner because you now know how to go about enjoying it.  You will enjoy to the max and achieve full satisfaction without feelings of guilt.

When it comes to repairing your relationship with food, this is such an important step to learn.  Ask yourself what you really want to eat, use all your senses to enjoy and really taste it, and savor the moment.  You don’t have time to waste on food worry.  Focus on the positive aspects of the food, how it nourishes you and makes you feel, the memories from your childhood and recapture the pleasure of eating once again.

Your turn to take action: Did you enjoy your meals this week?  What senses did you use to improve your satisfaction?  Please let me know in the comments section below.

 

What Does it Mean to Be “Feel Hungry” and “Feel Full”?

iEat Mindfully & Intuitive EatingIf you have been following my iEat Mindfully™ blog, you have probably seen me use the terminology “honor your hunger” and “respect your fullness.”  You may read these phrases and think that it sounds nice, but do you know what it actual means?  Do you think you’re doing this but aren’t exactly sure?  I want to delve a little deeper into both of these terms because they are such important pillars of eating intuitively.
For those of you who have had babies, or for anyone who has been around someone with a baby, when those little ones are hungry, they want to eat and they will let you know.  They also let you know when they are full by stopping to eat.  This is a basic instinct that somehow, for some of you reading, you lose as you go through life.  Getting back in touch with this is very important to being able to live a life free of dieting where you can trust your “gut”.
If you come from a place of dieting, you may have associated hunger with “I’m doing something right.  Hunger=losing weight.”  However, by not honoring your hunger and by delaying your eating you silence your hunger signals so that you only begin to hear them in the ravenous state.  And if you wait too long to eat, you become so hungry that you either eat whatever is in front of you or you eat way too much because you waited too long to eat.  Had you simply acknowledged the fact that you were hungry when you were first aware of it, you could have stopped the situation from becoming one that could cause you guilt and regret.

 

 

On the heels of honoring your hunger is respecting your fullness.  Trusting that it is time for you to eat a meal or a snack also comes along with trusting you know when it’s time to stop eating.  There is no need to have foods labeled as “off limits” when you know how to implement “eating for satisfaction”.  Taking the time to enjoy your meals (see last week’s blog to learn ways to involve all 5 senses and slow down) will help you to tune into that last bite that you acknowledge is the bite where you have reached your comfortable level of fullness.  Pretty soon it will involve less focus, and you will simply know–it will become intuitive.
These two principles work together to help you live a life where you are not afraid of going to a restaurant or a party.  You will be able to navigate situations that in the past may have scared you because you didn’t think you would be able to “be good.”  Practicing awareness of both hunger and fullness will truly open the door to a new chapter in your diet-free life.
Your turn to take action:  This week keep track how hungry you are when you sit down to a meal or a snack, and how full you are when you get up.  Let me know what revelations you had from doing this!

 

A Comparison between the Evolution of the Food Graphic and the Intuitive Eater’s Journey

MyPlate coloredOver the years, we have seen the USDA food graphic evolve.  The evolution of this graphic speaks a lot to living an intuitive eating lifestyle.  The old graphic used to break down the food groups into how many servings of each group you should eat each day.  Servings were not defined, so you were forced to figure out portion sizes on your own—and with pictures of loaves of bread, whole chickens and steaks filling in the sections of the graphics, it certainly wasn’t clear what a “normal” portion size was.

The graphic soon evolved to a pyramid shape, this one with vertical triangles in different sizes to depict visually how much each food group should be represented in your daily meals.  It gave more freedom for you to decide how much to eat.  In giving you that freedom, you still needed to rely on portion control, something that can be difficult in our culture given the over-sized meals we see in restaurants.

We have since moved to the current USDA food graphic, MyPlate.  This graphic depicts a 9-inch plate divided into different sized sections, meant to show how much space each food group should take up on your plate, since people eat off a plate and not a pyramid.  This graphic does focus on the bigger problem in our country of over-sized portions and overeating by providing a visual that people can relate to.  It is a helpful tool to build a healthy meal.

If you look at the journey the food graphic has taken, it is similar to the journey of someone with a diet mentality on the path to becoming an intuitive eater.  The earlier versions of the food guide pyramid told Americans how many servings to eat from each food group, very much like a diet to follow, which turned out to be very unrealistic for most people.  Thus, the movement to today’s MyPlate which provides more of a blueprint from which you can build healthy meals and is based on your food preferences and desires.

As a past (hopefully!) chronic dieter, you too followed a regimented diet plan telling you what, when and how much to eat.  But as you have been moving forward on your intuitive eating journey, you have banished those diets, shifted your mindset, and have taken the power back to decide what, when and how much to eat.

You know the foods that make you feel healthy and strong and those that make you feel tired and bloated. You understand what it means to eat until you are “just satisfied” and not to the point of overfull and overstuffed.  And if you are still figuring this out, no worries.  You are on the path to self-discovery and will get there!

Taking back control that was taken away from you has made you stronger.  Continue to follow your intuition, and you will find that you are likely choosing lighter, healthier foods that help your body run its best.  And, in the end, I bet your plate will look like MyPlate.

Your turn to take action:  Please share your thoughts…How has your intuitive eating journey been going?

Am I Always So Bubbly and Happy?

8950365_sAs I sat down today to write my post for the iEat Mindfully™ blog, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about.  But then it came to me.  Earlier today, I was told for about the 10th time this week, how bubbly and happy I am.  “Am I always like that, my client asked me?”  And I realized, yes, when I am teaching my clients about intuitive eating, I absolutely am giddy, bubbly and oh, so happy.

 

You see, for years when clients came to me for help in losing weight, I would create a healthy eating plan that fit into their lifestyle.  It included foods they liked, times they should eat, and even recipes.  My clients did very well…when they “followed” the meal plan.  But what happened when they didn’t “follow” the meal plan?  Or when a life event, stress, or bad day at the office had them dipping into the cookie jar.  Out went that healthy meal plan.

 

I dreaded the sessions when I would weigh a client and the rest of the session revolved around why they only lost 1 pound, or why they gained ½ pound.  I got so burnt out….I just wasn’t enjoying my work any longer.  This is when I knew I had to find another solution for my clients who struggled with chronic dieting and overweight/obesity, which I believed would in turn bring the passion back into my work.

 

That is when I found intuitive eating.  After spending time researching, studying, learning, and applying the principles of intuitive eating into my own life, I slowly worked it up into a program that would help transform my client’s lives.  It wasn’t easy at first.  Trying to get people to trust me that they should give up the “diet” or the “meal plan” wasn’t easy.

 

I quickly realized it really was more a matter of whether they could trust themselves.  After years and years of dieting and listening and following what other people/diet programs told them to eat, when to eat and how much to eat, well I guess it’s only natural that one would lose trust in themselves.

 

Fast forward to today…I am helping many people learn to regain that trust in themselves; to shift their mindset away from a diet mentality; to listen to their internal hunger and satiety signals.  The light bulbs that go on in their heads in our sessions are truly inspiring to me.  The “aha” moments are like no other.

 

So, yes, I am always bubbly, giddy and happy when I am working with my intuitive eating clients.  That’s what happens when I am doing what I love to do…when I am passionate about the transformation that I help my clients achieve.  Thank you to my wonderful clients.  I absolutely love working with you!

 

Your turn to take action:  If you would like the light bulbs to go on for you, head on over to http://www.talkwithbonnie.com and we will schedule a time to talk.

 

 

The Trials of Technology and Intuitive Eating

Eating while on cellDid you ever look around while you are walking somewhere and notice the people around you?  Is it more common that they are on a smartphone, listening to music or interacting with some electronic device rather than conversing with one another and paying attention to their surroundings?  I know for me the answer yes.

 

Technology has a way of taking over our lives, making us distracted.  When that distraction carries over into your eating, it finds you mindlessly munching away, not even aware of how much food you are consuming.  It also takes you away from being able to focus on your hunger and fullness cues, making it more difficult to be intuitive.

 

Sometimes it is nice to have information constantly at your fingertips.  You can look up food items at restaurants if you decide to eat out and you can look up healthier dining options if you find yourself stuck somewhere without any pre-packed meals or snacks.

 

But the problem is you develop a reliance on that technology rather than using your own common sense and internal signals.  If you are in the mood for a slice of pizza but one of your apps is telling you that you haven’t burned enough calories or you have eaten too many calories for the day, you decide to deny yourself of that pizza.  Then later on what happens?  The deprivation from earlier in the day leads to overeating on pizza that night.

 

You can see how technology can sometimes fight being intuitive.  Having so much reliance on electronic devices has you not relying on one of your most important devices—your brain and your body.  So hang up, turn-off, and listen to your hunger signals and desires rather than your iPhone app!  See how it goes.

 

Your turn to take action: Commit to not using technology or calorie counting apps for the next 3 days.  Listen to your internal signals and consider your needs.  How did it feel?

The Many Voices of Hunger

peace with food programThere are many facets of intuitive eating…thus the “10 principles”, which are what I call your empowerment tools to help you acquire and understand your internal cues that drive your hunger and satiety.  If you are unfamiliar with the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating, read more about them here.

 

One of the intuitive eating principles is Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food.  There are many emotional triggers that can lead you to emotional eating.  Identifying those triggers and finding ways to cope without turning to food is key to overcoming what might be plaguing you for a long time.

 

Sounds easy to say, but not so easy to do, right?  Yep, I agree.  I work very closely with my clients on this principle and it can take a long time to overcome, especially if you have been using food to cope with your life for many years.

 

I have recently come across a book called The Emotional Eating Rescue Plan for Smart, Busy Women.  Now, it’s not to say that men don’t experience emotional eating, but this book happens to focus on women who have a lot on their plate and tend to put their needs on the back burner.  Sound familiar?  Yes, I’ve discussed this before, the need to practice self-care, and make yourselves a priority.

 

The Emotional Eating Rescue Plan for Smart, Busy Women helps to define hunger in ways that you may never have thought of.  The definition of hunger as “a strong desire or craving” has the reader starting to think that hunger might be experienced for something that is not actually food.  Utilizing the tools in this book, you will begin to differentiate between hungers.  The reader is guided through a series of questions to help figure out what she is really hungry for….love, companionship, fun etc.   You are not given answers, but you are encouraged to explore and journey on the path of self-discovery.

 

This book is a great resource to complement your intuitive eating journey.

 

Cooking and Intuitive Eating

hearthealthycooking

Do you love to cook?  Do you take the time to prepare what you love?  As a past dieter (I’m hoping by now you are on your way to saying that!), consider how you decided what you were going to cook for dinner.  More than likely it was what the “diet menu” dictated for the night.  If you didn’t like the choice, I bet you still made it because to deviate from the menu would mean you “broke your diet”.

 

So think about it.  When you were dieting, and you cooked what you were told to cook, did you really enjoy it?  Did you derive great satisfaction from it?  I have many clients who are wonderful cooks, and unfortunately stopped cooking when they were on the diet rollercoaster.  It was too tempting to cook “something really good” and not be able to eat it.

 

Now think about the last yummy meal you cooked as an intuitive eater.  You took the time to figure out what you really wanted to eat, you pulled out a favorite family recipe or opened up a new cookbook, and took the time to prepare what you wanted.  How did you feel?

 

I have been working on writing my next cookbook which, although is not yet titled, will incorporate the principles of intuitive eating.  I have had so much fun creating and testing new recipes.  As an intuitive eater, it has opened my mind and my meal options to so many delicious foods that as a past dieter, I would not have eaten.

 

By taking the time to ask yourself what you want to eat, and taking the time to prepare that food, you will feel more satisfied, more in tune with your internal signals and more nourished.

 

It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.  It can be a simple sandwich, a plate of vegetable crudité with hummus, or if you are feeling adventurous, a three-course meal.  The key is to approach it from an intuitive eating standpoint and find ways to make cooking an enjoyable part of your life.

 

Your turn to take action:  Ask yourself what you really want to eat for dinner tonight.  Take the time to prepare and enjoy it.  Let me know how this experience was for you.

 

Eating as a Part of Your Life—Not Letting it Consume Your Life

When you want to get into a routine and build something into your life, one way to do it is to schedule and plan.  For some, this is also true when it comes to dieting.  You schedule the number of meals you will eat that day based on when the plan tells you to and you restructure your life around that plan.  You are always thinking about what you are supposed to be eating next, will you be eating it “on time” and if you didn’t pack it with you, will you be able to find something comparable.  You find the only thing you are thinking about is food.
I want you to remember a time, if such a period existed, where you weren’t worrying about your weight or your food.  You lived your life and when you were hungry you ate, you stopped when you were full and you weren’t frantically wondering if a food fell into your plan if you wanted to have it.  For many of you trying to get back to this memory, it might take you all the way back to your childhood days—and that’s OK.

 

When you are younger and there is less to worry about, that carefree attitude translates easier to food.  Eating is just something you have to do in between all the other fun things you look forward to doing every day.  Now that you are older, sometimes food is the fun part of your day, and sometimes it is something to worry about.  Whatever end of the spectrum you fall on you still shouldn’t be living for or living in fear of it.  Accepting food as part of your day rather than something your entire world has to stop for makes it easier to accept a healthier non-diet lifestyle rather than a diet mentality.

 

If you weren’t so hungry and you didn’t eat as much lunch as you normally do, or if you waited an hour later than usual to eat it, that’s OK!  You are listening to your body.  Maybe one day you had a very intense work-out and your body told you to eat a little more at lunch time than you’re used to—listen to it!  Pardon the pun but go with your gut and listen to what it says rather than restricting it to a pre-determined schedule that might not fit into your day.  Eating is a necessary part of life, but it doesn’t have to be your life.

 

Your Turn to Take Action: Try and focus on the things in life you enjoy that are not related to food this week.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Evaluate and Feel Great!

Woman with thumbs upWhen you have a diet mentality, there are a lot of things that can take away from you feeling positive about yourself.  Remember those days you didn’t follow “the plan” and you felt that you had failed?  Feeling like you needed to hide to eat something you wanted to eat because that would make it less of a disgrace to your “diet,” or feeling pressure to order food you don’t even want because the people around you know you’re dieting and you can’t let them see you “cheat.”  Not to mention the only way of evaluating yourself on a diet is by weighing yourself, which as you know, is not a true testament to success in a healthy lifestyle.

The beauty of intuitive eating is it opens up a world that wants you to feel good about yourself.  If you have been progressing on a mindful eating journey, now is a great time to step back and look at all the positive progress you have made.  I want you to evaluate where you are at in the following:

  • Have you been able to look in the mirror and start finding more things that you like about yourself?
  • Do you find yourself eating foods you previously deemed “evil” and being able to enjoy them?
  • Have you tuned out negative self-talk and started to focus on positive aspects of the lifestyle you are living?
  • Have you asked your loved ones around you for their support in this healthy journey?
  • Is your scale collecting dust in your home somewhere because it is no longer a symbol of success in your mind?
  • Are you exercising because of how it makes you feel rather than to negate calories?
  • Are you stopping when you’re full and eating when you’re hungry?

If you said yes to any of these questions then you should feel proud.  These are huge hurdles to jump over when overcoming the diet mentality and to clear any of them is a great accomplishment.  The more of these questions you can answer as “yes,” the better you will continue to feel about your healthy lifestyle and your relationship with the food you eat.

Your turn to take action:  How do you feel about your intuitive eating progress so far?