People like to tell us what to eat and when to eat it, and to be honest we like to be told! We follow diets because they provide us with the quick and accessible answers to food types, amounts and timings to achieve our goals. But what if I told you that you already have the answers? That you don't need to spend all of your hard earned cash on the latest diet craze to know what to eat and when to eat it. Don't believe me? Well let me show you.
The Dieting Cycle
Now evidence tells us that dieting works initially, but is unlikely to have long term success! Why? Well, it has something to do with The Dieting Cycle.
The cycle goes like this:
We restrict foods to try and lose weight.
We feel deprived, and our desire for the foods we're restricting increases.
We give in to temptation and eat the 'forbidden' foods.
For a short time we feel better.
Then we start to feel angry at ourselves for not having the willpower to resist.
Afterwards the negative emotions, such as guilt, stress, and anxiety, start to creep in
We restrict ourselves to make up for it.
The cycle starts again.
So if not dieting, than what?
We need to become more accountable for the food we put into our bodies. We are all wonderfully diverse individuals, and because of this diversity, we need to recognise our own individual requirements. How do we achieve this? By understanding our food behaviours and environment.
I know what you're thinking. How Georgie? How am I meant to change my behaviours and environment? Well one way is by understanding and responding to your own internal cues for hunger and fullness.
Hunger & Fullness Scale
Sometimes we eat when we don't necessarily need to. Whether it's because other people are eating, the clock has hit a certain time, or there is food available, these cues have made us lose touch with what physical hunger and fullness actually feels like.
The Hunger & Fullness Scale is designed to help us determine how hungry we really are and whether or not we actually need to be eating.
How to Read the Numbers
Staying in moderate hunger/fullness ranges, or the ideal zone (from 3 to 6), will help us to avoid extremes and maintain more control over our eating behaviours.
We can practice getting back in touch with our body's hunger signals with a few easy steps:
Rate your hunger before and after you eat. Use the Hunger & Fullness Log to keep a recording of your hunger patterns throughout the day, and before and after meals. Before long you'll have a good idea of your natural hunger pattern.
If you rate yourself a 6 or above on the Hunger & Fullness Scale, try and identify other reasons that may be triggering you to eat. In these situations swap eating for other things you enjoy. It could be taking your dog for a walk, talking on the phone, reading a book, etc.
Practice mindful eating. To do this eat your meals slowly and savour every bite. Try taking a sip of water between mouthfuls. Remove distractions by setting yourself a spot at the table and leaving the television off.