By this time of the year, many of our New Year's resolutions have faded away, whereas those of us who are still trying to diet may be feeling deprived and dissatisfied.
Enter Michelle May, MD, a recovered yo-yo dieter and award winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Dr. May addresses audiences throughout the U.S. about mindful eating and vibrant living. According to her, successful weight loss isn't just about what you're eating but why you're eating.
Intuitive or Instinctive Eating
In her acclaimed book, Dr. May discusses overeating, restrictive eating, and instinctive eating cycles, and believes that we're all born to eat instinctively, which includes listening to your body when it's telling you it needs fuel, and simply stopping eating when hunger is satisfied. Dr. May goes on to say that many of us have "unlearned" our natural ability to know how much we should eat. The good news, however, is that we can relearn those skills for weight loss without dieting or deprivation.
Dr. May's 7 Essential Steps
Let go of the idea that you will ever find a perfect diet that will solve all your problems. The answer to weight management lies within you.
Whenever you have an urge to eat, instead of focusing on the food, first ask yourself, "Am I hungry?" Remember that hunger is a physical feeling and it's not the same thing as appetite, cravings, or a desire to eat--those all involve head hunger!
If you're physically hungry, remember that there are no "good" or "bad" foods. This means that you can have certain foods again when you really want them, a thought that will make you less likely to overeat.
Give up your platinum membership to the Clean Plate Club. Stop eating when your hunger is gone and before you feel full, even if there's food left on your plate. Wrap up the leftovers or share them with others.
If you feel like eating even if you're not hungry, ask yourself if something in your environment has triggered your urge to eat. What could you do to reduce the trigger or distract yourself from it? For example, could you put the candy dish out of sight, or do something else for a while until you're actually hungry?
If there was an emotional trigger, ask yourself what you could do to better cope with that emotion. For instance, if stress triggered your urge to eat, could you try a relaxation exercise instead of slipping into emotional eating?
Don't expect yourself to be perfect--it's not possible or even necessary.
By relearning instinctive or intuitive eating, you'll see that eating to satisfy hunger is pleasurable and that it's good to eat foods you enjoy. Meeting other needs in appropriate ways will help bring balance and joy to your life. Also, by learning these key skills, you'll start living a healthier lifestyle, decrease emotional eating, and lose weight without dieting, deprivation, or guilt!