At some point in your life, you've probably heard this piece of weight loss advice: "just eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full."
Hell, I've given that advice many times over to my clients.
Sounds simple enough right?
But what about when it's not?
What if you have a hard time differentiating between true hunger and boredom?
What if 'full' has always meant 'stuffed' for you and you're not sure what you're supposed to feel like after a meal?
I've had many clients in this boat. From an early age, we're often taught to eat when our parents give use meals whether we're hungry or not, and to clear our plate whether we're full or not.
From the get-go we learn to sever the ties between our brain and body, and turning that connection back on can be a challenge.
As per usual, there is no quick fix here. It's going to take time, patience, and a lot of mindfulness on your part.
But it will be so worth it when you get to experience the food freedom that comes from not having to follow strict, arbitrary food rules, and getting to listen to what your body is trying to tell you.
Lay down on a mat or your bed (as long as you won't fall asleep) with your eyes closed. Start off with slow, deep breathes, just paying attention to as many sensations as possible: how your body feels against the floor, the cool air coming in through your nose, the warm air releasing through your mouth, the stretch of your lungs that comes with each inhale, the relaxation that comes with each exhale.
Then you're going to work your way up your body bringing attention and focus to isolated areas of your body. Starting with your toes, you'll just pay attention to how they feel, notice if there's any tension, and then imagine them melting into the floor beneath you. Do the same with your calves, your thighs, your pelvis, belly, chest, arms, and head.
Before you sit down to eat ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I eating because it's Habit to right now? (Like when you mindlessly eat chips while you watch tv at night)
2. Am I eating because of an Emotion I'm experiencing? (Stress, boredom, anger, fatigue)
3. Or am I eating because I'm Physically hungry? (My stomach is growling, I'm feeling shaky, there's a burning or gnawing sensation in my stomach).
If the answer is yes to 1 or 2, find something else to occupy your time. And then continue to check in until physical hunger sets in.
It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you're full so if you scarf down a giant meal in 10 minutes, you aren't giving your body the opportunity to communicate with you.
Pay especially close attention to how your stomach feels before you start eating, half way through your meal, and at the end of your meal.
You're aiming to feel satisfied (no longer experiencing sensations of hunger), but not stuffed (where you feel bloated, lethargic, heavy, or sick).
Like we talked about in episode 114, yoga is a fantastic workout for helping you connect your brain and body. It helps you quietly focus on different sensations in your body, to tolerate discomfort, and notice when things feel good to you.
This is a great place to start and you're welcome to try this on your own and see how it goes. But often times a disconnection between brain and body over the course of years usually has far reaching effects.
It can lead to hormonal disruptions, metabolic adaptations that make it difficult to lose weight, gut dysbiosis, and a potentially very unhealthy relationship with food. Those ramifications don't get easily fixed with one podcast episode.
If you feel like your struggle runs deeper and you want more support, accountability, positive encouragement, and education to help you work through it, I want to invite you to join my Follow Your Gut Weight Loss Program!
It's designed to help you transform your gut health, your relationship with food, and your waistline in 60 days.
We begin September 13th and spaces are limited!
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The information shared in this blog and podcast are intended for informational purposes only. They are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any health conditions and you should always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.