When it comes to natural eating and weight-loss from the inside-out, the question I like to start with is:
What if the act of always trying to get to a certain point is what causes the imbalance?
We are officially in the season of trying to change our bodies in one way or the other. This means that there will be a lot of head games going on for some people. Also, others will consider using food for purposes and ways it is not meant to be used.
So today, I want to point to a different direction. I want to help shed light on how to approach food in a way that needs less mental drama and willpower, but instead, creates more relief with grace and ease.
Let’s get started.
Blog post after the jump.
So this is an excerpt from one of my old journal entries:
“If your body does not need help in telling you when you need to perform bodily functions that come naturally, why would it need help to signal when it needs nourishment?
You know, when I suddenly got this little nugget of insight. It changed a lot of things for me.
Think about it; you do not need to be told when to empty your bladder, you just know that you do. Your body will keep sending a signal. It will get stronger until you absolutely have to do something about it or, have an accident that requires a change of clothes.
The same goes for sleep. Your body will keep sending signals for rest and, they keep getting stronger the more you ignore them. Foggy brain, delayed responses, clumsiness, irritability and the rest become more prevalent until your body takes over and shuts down on you.
The question here is not if your body is intelligent because it clearly is. It has systems working in the background to keep things ticking along with no help from you.
The question instead is, If you believe your body is smart enough to do all this other stuff, then why is it not smart enough to tell you when it actually needs food?
Why does it need you to decide when it needs to nourish itself?
If your body can do all this other stuff, why would it not have a signal for when it needs nourishment?
Why would it not have a signal another for the type of nourishment it needs and another for when it has had enough?
If you were only to listen to the signals your body sends when it comes to nourishment, there are only four things you would pay attention to.
1. Eat only when you are hungry.
2. Eat what you want, not what you think you should.
3. Enjoy each mouthful.
4. Stop when you are full.
Let us explore each of these points from an inside out perspective.
If it was not hammered into us from youth to be polite and eat when offered food, why would you eat at any other time except when you are hungry?
And but for the fact that we learned from an early age to use food to reward or punish ourselves, why would we eat when we are not hungry?
If we had not learned from early on to use food in ways it was not meant to be used, why would we eat at any other time except when we received a hunger signal from our body?
You just would not, right?… Because it would not make sense to do so.
The only common sense thing would be to respond to your natural hunger signals as they come up. And you would view your hunger signal the same as you would any other body signal. It would not have a higher priority than say the need to sleep, emptying your bladder or just moving your body.
It would just be the natural thing to do.
When most people hear this, they panic. They believe that their bodies will go out of control if they permit themselves to trust what their body asks for.
But, think about it. If it were not for the information and misinformation about what we should or should not eat, why would you put something in your mouth you did not want to eat?
The only reason it feels like your body is out of control is that you have been restricting yourself for too long.
You have been putting food in categories that are unhelpful to you.
I was reading about a small study where kids were put in a room with all kinds of food and, they were told they could eat anything at any time they felt like.
For the first few days, they all went wild. They gorged on the sweet stuff and the pizza and all of that.
But the curious thing that the scientists noticed was that after a few days, without any prompts, most of them started gravitating towards the more nutritious foods.
And when asked why they did not want any more of the sweet stuff, they said they felt like having this other stuff instead.
It was not about good or bad foods. Instead, it was about letting the body tell what nutrients it was craving at that moment.
So, here is the question again:
If it weren’t for the constant bombardment of information and misinformation about what we should or shouldn’t eat, why would you put something in your mouth you didn’t want to eat?
Why would it even make sense to do so?
Here is what I noticed when I started paying attention at mealtimes…
The first few bites of food that I want to eat are always like a slice of heaven. My tastebuds are have a party. Everything tastes sharp.
But with each extra mouthful, I begin to notice that my enjoyment of it begins to fall. The taste is not as sharp as it was before. And it eventually gets to point where the food doesn’t taste as good anymore for me to continue; That is my cue from my body to stop.
So here is the question:
If you were not always in a hurry and encouraged to do a million things at once, why would you not take the time to enjoy every single mouthful of food that you are eating?
Why would you not take the time to notice when the food no longer tastes enjoyable?
Why would you keep going if you no longer enjoy each mouthful?
Why would it make sense to keep doing all of that?
Finally, but for the fear of having to go hungry later because you have been restricting yourself, eating what you do not want to eat…
Also but for what we have learned about finishing all the food on our plate… why would you keep eating if your body gave the signal that it was full?
Most of us that overeat do so out of fear. Fear that we’ll be hungry later and since we’re on an eating timetable, it becomes a problem.
We overeat because we most often eat food that is supposed to keep us full and, not because we enjoy it.
So even though there is a natural eating cue blaring, we override it and keep going. Until the consequences of that become a physical and health issue.
The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. And its existence rests on the flawed premise that without you actively interfering with your system when it comes to nourishment, it will spiral out of control.
There are so many diet plans that tell you what to eat when to eat and how to eat.
Speaking as someone who has spent at least 25 years playing this outside-in game of dieting, I know first-hand how tempting and alluring it is.
I have tried them all: weight watchers, Atkins, slimming world, Keto, Pritkin, Military diet, Intermittent Fasting, grapefruit diet (remember that one?) …you name it and, I have dabbled in it.
They are so alluring. Everyone has a cool success story and, there is a lot of shiny data on their websites along with pictures of people you just KNOW you are going to look like if you follow the program as long as they have.
And here is the thing, these outside-in programs actually work. That is the worst thing about it, they do work — for as long as you follow them, that is.
So, because these outside-in approaches seem to work, we ignore the overwhelming data that suggests that diets are the most successful weight gain programs in history.
Diets help you gain weight. If you have ever been on a diet and got off it, you will know that you immediately gain back the weight and more.
But we keep ignoring the data that shows this and instead we blame ourselves.
We start having unhelpful thinking along the lines of — if only we were more disciplined, or hadn’t been born with the fat gene, or whatever our guess is as to why we are the only ones that can’t seem to make something work that statistically doesn’t work for over 90% of dieters.
We keep telling ourselves that if only we could do that thing we guess is stopping us from being successful with that diet, we would lose the weight and keep it off for life.
Does this sound familiar?
Because it sure did to me when I finally allowed myself to see what I needed to see about it.
Let me repeat this in case something got lost in translation:
Statistically, diets do not work for 90% or more of dieters.
It has nothing to do with your discipline, willpower, genetic makeup or whatever other stuff your mind wants to use.
Our system is just not set up for this kind of sustained outside-in pressure.
At some point, your body will push back. This where you start talking about falling off the wagon and binge eating. But it is your body trying to get back into balance. The more you fight it by trying to get back on the wagon, the harder it swings in the opposite direction.
Notice that so far in this conversation, I have been using the word natural in many instances. Because as you have seen, there are lots of things you may consider normal, but that does not mean they are right for you or the natural common sense thing to do.
When it comes to food and nourishing your body, what is the most common sense thing to do?
When you decide to start looking in the direction of what is NATURAL rather than normal… you will begin to see that the reasons you have to use food in the way you’ve been doing are based on only one thing – THOUGHT.
You THINK it would be rude to say no when offered food, so you eat the food even though you are not hungry.
And you THINK it is wasteful to leave food on your plate, so you do your best to clear your plate, even though you weren’t hungry to start.
You have been invited to go out for drinks; you do not want to be the odd one out, you get a few drinks because you THINK this will make you fit in.
When it comes to diets, we also THINK that we know better than our bodies about what it needs to function optimally. And because we are so out of touch with our bodies and its cues, we collect evidence that makes what we are thinking to seem more real and substantive.
As these thoughts seem more real, then going on a diet seems like the perfect solution.
Well, everything still points back to THOUGHT energy.
Every emotion is thought. And when it comes to emotional eating, food is just a tool you use to hide from your own thinking.
Feelings of insecurity, failure, discomfort, stress, fear all come from thoughts passing through you at the moment. They are not your body’s signal for nourishment. So why would it ever occur to you to reach for food at these moments if it was not to hide from your own unhelpful thinking?
When you give yourself the space to recognise the nature of THOUGHT, you’ll begin to view your thinking with a degree of detachment and neutrality.
This means you won’t feel the need to use food to hide away from your thoughts.
You will quickly come to see that just because you are having uncomfortable thoughts, there is no problem that you need to solve.
It is just a thought passing through your mind making you uncomfortable for a small moment in time. It will pass on its own, and you will feel better without the need to drown out your thinking with food.
A lot of us think that food and our bodies are problems we must solve. We believe that if we can just exert some kind of control over both, we will be just fine.
But the problem has always been with your thinking and how you choose to respond to it.
Your body has never been the problem, it has been working the way it was meant to. But for you constantly interfering with its process of nourishing itself, it would have already found its optimal balance in performance and aesthetics.
Most of us are so desperate to look a certain way. Our fearful thinking drives us to keep interfering in what should be a natural process.
Think about it — have you ever thought twice about needing to empty your bladder?
Have you ever felt the need to set a routine and time when you need to empty waste product from your body?
If you had to go more than once in a certain period, is it something you beat yourself up about?
If you have to go, then you have to go, right?
You just do what your body asks of you and then carry on with your life because that is the most natural thing to do.
You are okay right now. You really are.
It has got nothing to do with how you look physically… that will take care of itself once you let yourself see at a deeper level, that you are okay.
Your body has a system that naturally takes care of that. You just never allowed it to do so because of your skewed thinking on this issue.
There is nothing on the inside that you need to fix. You are okay, no matter how much you weigh.
That does not mean if you consistently ignore your body and eat when you are not hungry that you will not face health risks over time …you will. It just means being thin will not make you a better person.
So the crucial question as we come to the end of this is not:
What do you want to weigh?
How do want to look?
Or even how do you want to eat?
If you decide that you want to move closer to your nature, shifting towards eating naturally will just be one of the changes you see yourself making. Staying in tune with your body as you love from a deeper understanding of yourself, life and everything in it.
This also goes beyond eating into other parts of your life.
If you decide to move towards living in tune with your nature, you will notice that there is less you need to control; and more you need to make space for.
Life then becomes more graceful and less of a battle.
Age and time have nothing to do with it. How to change your life begins with first understanding what creates the resistance to change.
Unexpected events are nothing to be afraid of. You always have everything you need to stir your ship back on course as quickly as possible …but only if you allow it to happen.
I’m Elizabeth Archibong. A Nigerian girl obsessed setting the rules on fire to create life and results from a place of ease and a path of least resistance. I teach people how to see themselves more simply and accurately. So that they can create and get more of the things that they want.