Two sure-fire contributions to poor health are stress and poor diet. But what constitutes a good diet has become so confused that eating itself becomes a major source of stress for many. One week newspapers are reporting on a study suggesting that a high protein diet is bad for health. The next sees high levels of reporting of the dangers of eating too much sugar. The debate around the relative dangers of fats and sugars has recently been re-ignited. Navigating through the often contradictory advice is confusing and stressful.
We end up obsessed with what we should be eating
There are two problems with this:
First we lose sight of whether we are actually hungry when we eat.
Second we focus on what types of foods we “should” be eating without reference to what our bodies are hungry for (have an appetite for) right now.
Is there another way to eat for health and healthy weight?
Most certainly! You can improve your diet and reduce your stress around eating if you re-learn to tune in to your body’s natural signals regarding hunger and fullness. Once you start to do this, you only start to eat when you are definitely hungry and stop eating when you are just full. Then your meal sizes are determined for you by your own gut, not someone else’s calorie calculations.
If you haven’t been doing this for a while, it may feel uneasy or anxiety provoking to try, but help is available for this anxiety in the free download at www.deliciousdieting.co.uk
When you wait to eat until you are hungry, food tastes fantastic, because your taste buds are naturally at their most sensitive. You don’t have to eat special food; just eat the food you already like.
So which foods can you eat and should you avoid?
There is a growing body of opinion that excluding particular food groups or particular foods tends to backfire. It puts you under psychological or physiological pressure around eating. And when you’re under pressure around food it is more difficult to eat in tune with what your body wants.
Once you start eating in tune with your body’s natural hunger and fullness, you can start to discern the other signals the body naturally produces. These are more subtle than overall hunger and fullness and they tell you what you fancy eating.
As long ago as 1973 Pearson & Pearson published “The Psychologist’s Eat Anything Diet”. This revolutionary book was fortunately read and talked about by Geneen Roth, one of the leading proponents of abandoning diets and listening to your body, which is how I came across it. The book was reprinted in 2009 so it’s easy to get hold of again. Pearson and Pearson strongly advocate learning to listen to what your body wants to eat by discriminating between foods that “hum” and those that “beckon”.
Foods that hum to you are those that you really desire and love, regardless of whether they are immediately available. Foods that beckon to you are those that you had not been desiring, but that are available now and that look or smell good. They explain that when a food hums to you, you yearn for it. When a food beckons, it calls out to you.
The food that hums will really satisfy your appetite, the food that beckons probably won’t. When you eat what doesn’t really satisfy your appetite, you may find yourself wandering on to eating other foods as you are still in search of what you desire, but if you have already eaten something, it will be harder to discern what that is.
Listen to your gut to tell you when to eat
A simple scale for measuring your hunger and fullness levels is the Appetite Pendulum
Increase the pleasure you get from food
Listen to your gut to tell you what to eat
If you are overweight now you are very likely to lose weight into the bargain.
There is much more information on this approach to losing weight at www.theappetitedoctor.co.uk to help you work with your body’s natural systems for regulating appetite and eating while you lose weight.
If you would like to arrange an individual consultation with Dr McCarthy, visit the Work With Me page on the website