How to Be at Peace with Your Appetite and HungerNone By Cary Barbor
We hear a lot—especially this time of year—about how we should change our eating habits, go on this or that diet, and restrict our food in myriad ways. But what if you could be more at peace with your eating? What if you could stop cutting out certain foods and actually enjoy your meals, while also nourishing yourself as well?
In her new book, The Eating Instinct, journalist Virginia Sole-Smith advocates for just that. Sole-Smith would like to see us all have a comfortable and healthy relationship with food. To do that, we need to protect the food-related instincts we were born with, such as eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are full. Here, she offers five guidelines to help us protect these instincts. So instead of going on a crash diet or cutting out whatever categories of food are currently unpopular, try implementing these strategies instead.
Stop apologizing for your hunger or your food choices.
We are all born with the ability to know when we are hungry and when we are full. But many of us learn to ignore or be ashamed of hunger, or to eat past satiety. Get back in touch with your instincts and eat the type and amount of food you want, when you want it. Listen to your body’s cues that it has had enough, which may be as simple as not wanting another bite, or feeling that your belly is full and you are no longer hungry. Also: trust the people around your table (whether family or friends) to know their own hunger and fullness cues—they may be quite different from yours.
Focus on what your body does for you instead of how it looks.
Perhaps you’ve given birth, or cooked hundreds of meals for your family, or healed from a disease. The human body is amazing, and every one is worthy of respect and value, even the ones that don’t meet rigid standards of beauty or health. Walking around the block, carrying those heavy boxes from one place to another, and holding a baby are all wonderful things bodies can do when we nourish them properly.
Make healthy choices, no matter your size.
Don’t let value judgments (your own or other people’s) of your weight unduly influence the choices you make to support your health. For example, don’t let it keep you from participating in activities you enjoy, like going dancing or biking, or from resting when you need to.
Let yourself be comforted by food.
Good nutrition is key, but there is no denying that food is a critical source of our comfort and social warmth. Food can evoke good memories and help bond you to the people you love. Don’t deny yourself this aspect of eating. Perhaps you have a favorite holiday dish that brings back good memories of relatives who are gone, or you like hot tea on a cold afternoon. Comforting ourselves with food doesn’t necessarily mean overeating.
Let yourself learn to eat naturally.
Becoming more comfortable with our food choices is an ongoing process. Each meal is another opportunity to exercise a more gentle and natural outlook on the food you eat. You may get more in touch with your body’s signals that it is full as you go along. Or you may realize you are eating something to please someone else, not because you want it. Stay open to what you might learn about yourself at each meal.
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