No, eating foods you love will not make you fat. In fact, it’s actually going to stop you from overeating. If you don’t eat for pleasure, your brain rebels, setting you up for intense cravings …hello binge-fest! When you eat foods you enjoy, and savor them, you’ll set yourself up for a healthy diet and calm mind.
I was Zoom’ing a girlfriend the other day, having a long overdue catch-up. Although we were miles apart, connected by a video stream, we decided to ‘go’ for lunch together, albeit virtually. I asked her what she was eating, and she replied “Something green, something healthy.”
She laughed and said, “I’d rather be eating your steak wrap I can see, but I’m trying to be good and not allowed carbs.”
The moral tug of war with food
She is one of the many women who feel ashamed to enjoy their food. Held hostage by diet rules, they think, “if it’s not green or taste bland, then it can’t be healthy for me.”
I’ll tell you what I told my girlfriend:
It’s OK to enjoy your food and feel pleasure from it.
In fact, the more you like and enjoy your food, the more satisfied you will be and this contributes to your health by reducing the chances of later bingeing on the very foods you’re denying yourself.
The diet culture sets us up for denial, which backfires on our health and weight and sends our mind to panic-station Alpha, meaning we obsess over the foods we are denying ourselves, building up an intense craving until BOOM, the binge hits and we overeat the cookies, crisps or ice-cream. You’re eating foods you should eat, not what you want to eat.
When you allow yourself to eat what you’re craving, without worrying about the nutrients involved, you’re more likely to savor and enjoy its deliciousness, and feel satisfied on a much smaller amount, with no mental food drama. This is called intuitive or instinctive eating.
When we stop stressing about what we’re eating, we are more likely to find a balance between taste and nutrition.
Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a sec, if I eat what I’m craving, I’ll never stop eating chocolate and my health and weight will spiral out of control.”
It may seem hard to imagine, but this actually doesn’t happen. Food not only delivers a party for your taste buds, but it affects how you feel physically. Eat chocolate day-in and day-out, and you’ll probably have sugar crashes, feel bloated, get stomach-ache and feel pretty icky. Your body won’t crave this every day because of these feelings…but only when your mind knows that it’s free to eat it whenever it wants.
What that means is, when you let go of diet rules and feed your body what it wants, it will choose healthier, more nutritious foods most of the time. It’s when we deny ourselves certain foods that binges and overeating happens.
Here are some tips to discover the delicious satisfaction of eating:
- Write down the foods that you really enjoy
By getting to know what foods you like (and don’t like), regardless of their nutrient content, you can start to understand your taste preference (spicy, sweet, savory, mushy, etc.) that set you up to eat for pleasure.
- Let go of your forbidden food list
Try to incorporate at least one of your forbidden foods into your pantry or fridge and enjoy it, without guilt, or shame. But…I want you to read the next tip before you eat it.
- Eat mindfully
I want you to really savor that food, taste it, feel the texture, smell the flavor, roll it around in your mouth. This allows you to really focus on the food and ramps up your satisfaction, meaning you’ll likely eat less than if you’re eating mindlessly in front of the TV or scrolling your phone.
- Tap into your fullness
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the tip above. The more you’re focused on the what you’re eating, the more you can focus on your fullness sensations. When does the taste become less interesting, when is your stomach getting fuller, how does that feel? These are all questions to ask yourself during eating so you can start to pinpoint when you’re satisfied and full but not stuffed.
- Add variety
The more variety you have in your diet, the more you can experiment with tastes and textures, plus the more likely you will be eating a range of nutrients. Be flexible with your eating, aiming to cook from scratch most of the time. Click here for some delicious healthy snack recipes.
Food can be healthy and tasty
The thing I learned on my journey to instinctive eating is that gentle nutrition (ie: having some flexibility around your eating), meant my brain finally relaxed around eating, I ate nutritious food most of the time, and food can be satisfying, healthy and fun!
If you would like to really knock your food drama on the head, and finally enjoy eating, without guilt, watch my free webinar.