America has reached its highest weight in history. About half of Americans are overweight; one third are obese. One size fits all diets don’t work because each person is unique, with different needs based on gender, age, ancestry and lifestyle. How could one diet be right for everyone?
Given half a chance, your body will balance out by itself, but this is only possible by getting out of the diet mentality and listening to what you truly need. Imagine taking all of the outward energy you expend on diets, fads and gimmicks and turning it inward, so that you can listen to what your body really wants. Working with your body rather than against it will bring about increased energy, stabilized weight and sustainable health. Eating consciously and making simple lifestyle changes will create positive results and release you from the endless cycle of dieting.
Here are 5 steps to help you get started. Start listening to your body today.
1) Know what being “physically” hungry feels like. So many of us never take the time to listen to the signals our bodies are sending. We eat for emotional reasons, out of boredom or even when are already full. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being starving, ask yourself, how hungry am I? Try to recognize when you have gone too long without fuel and are at a 5, or when you are eating “just because” and are only at a 1. Try to eat when you are between a 2-3 to ward off over eating.
2) Keep a food Journal to connect to how food really makes you feel. Look for signs of imbalance after a meal like: headaches, stomach pain, muscle cramps, coughing, fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, shakiness, muscle weakness, poor concentration, pallor. This will help you figure out which foods may not be working for your body.
3) Deconstruct your cravings. Cravings are a message sent to help assist you in creating balance in the body. Being able to recognize why you have a craving can help you ward it off the next time. Is the craving emotional or seasonal; have you been eating too much salt so you crave sugar; are you lacking in vitamins? Ask yourself what is it my body really wants right now?
4) Eat primarily for fuel; 90% of the time you should be choosing the foods that you know are healthy and good for you. Think of food as fuel-What will make your machine (your body) run the most efficiently for the longest amount time? Learn what your fuel foods are.
5) 10% of the time-eat for pure joy. Deprivation does not work. Know what your joy foods are, eat them with pleasure and without guilt. Doing this 10% of the time will help you build a healthy relationship with food.
Photo credit: sooperkuh at Flickr for Creative Commons.