Intuitive Eating, having your cake and eating it too

With summer around the corner and being well into competition season, there is a big emphasis on dieting, cutting, tightening up, or whatever you want to call it.

With any diet there are the inevitable issue of hunger and cravings, as well as food based guilt for a lot of people. In fact, some opinions site that competition dieting or even obsessive macro counting can be considered eating disorders. I know personally, growing up I delt with food related anxiety and issues. Even now, when not competing I feel the need to monitor my intake. If I don’t have a rough idea of my macros I become anxious. Eating on a plan and with a specific schedule and goal tends to relieve this anxiety. Of course, different athletes, and different bodies have different different needs.

You need to fuel not only your workouts but also your hormones and basic bodily functions in order to keep your body out of a stress state, and maximize immunity. So this is where you need to consider aesthetic versus whole health.
There’s is a big movement in the holistic health community concerning intuitive eating. The  premise of becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals. Intuitive eating is intended to create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, making it a popular treatment for disordered eating. I’ve often seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to a detachment between hunger and diet needs. People who stuff themselves regularly, forcing down meals in order to meet their dietary goals, and people who starve themselves of regular meals to cut back caloric intake.
Some of the basic principles surrounding intuitive eating focus on keeping your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Now, I am personally a fan of carb cycling and timing to maximize hormone sensitivity. As well as knowing your own personal sensitivity to certain foods. However, depriving your body can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are gone and this is when binging occurs. Recognize the signals early on.
For a long time I also had forbidden foods. In fact, I still do. The thought of specific “no” foods give me anxiety. But, you have to allow yourself permission to eat. It’s not a mistake, or a slip up. I have certain food sensitivities to wheat and dairy that cause me to break out. So obviously I’m not referring to this type of eating. But it’s ok to want a a piece of fruit or some chocolate, this may sound basic but I long feared sugar. This included apples, bananas, anything high carb.  But, if you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation. I prefer creative a scenario in which I can use the nutritional value. Like focusing my “treats” around workout times, or pairing out with a protein to slow the insulin spike. Telling yourself you can’t have or don’t deserve something will only cause you to feel deprived, sad, depressed, and eventually lead to binging behaviour followed by guilt and anxiety.
If you are going to go ahead and eat that burger, or some ice cream, or maybe even some late night popcorn, listen for the body signals that tell you that you are full. Often when people deprive the,selves of food and they finally cave to their cravings they tend to over eat. Your body needs time to send hormonal signals to your brain that your full. Take your time to smell! Chew, appreciate you food. Just like your mother probably told you, chew, chew, chew. Fully enjoy every mouth full instead of inhaling. If your have been wanting this item for so long, relish it. And most of all stop when your full. I know it’s delicious, and I personally hate throwing out food, but you’re not benefiting yourself my over doing it. You might even create a food aversion.
Aside from all these cues about when or how to eat. First consider why you’re hungry. I mean yes, there are primitive reasons, but also a knowledge your feelings at that moment. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger, even happiness. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term for some people, but it won’t solve the problem. Often it will just create more. Either you get more anxiety from binging, or sadness over “failure” or even setting you back in your fitness goals. I often crave certain foods when dieting, but not when I’m not retrofit get foods. It’s good to acknowledge your patterns, so that your can rationalize your cravings. This is feel helps to lessen the feeling of deprivation when you acknowledge the source .
Lastly, you need to accept your body. This does not mean you have to
Throw out your goals, but making peace with your genetics. I have leaned over many years what while o don’t struggle excessively to put on size, my body has great difficulty dropping below 10% body fat. I’ve been told I struggle to get lean. To the average person I am lean. But to step on stage it’s a fight against hormones and genetics to achieve what I need. I have come to accept that’s my personal struggle. I won’t have a six pack all year round, I can’t lean out with high carbs, and I can’t eat donuts every weekend. But I’m not sad about it. I know my body type and I’ve over time slowly shifted my intake and macros to accommodate it. So while i have friends who eat more while dieting than I get during off season I’m working towards my own goals. It’s futile to hate your body. You’re blessed with so many gifts.  So I’m trying to maximize my metabolism, even our my hormones and increase my lean mass in order to accommodate more of what I love, food (obviously)
So my lovelies. Don’t feel so bad about little set backs, or wanting to eat certain foods. Don’t even hold back, just do so in a way that furthers your goals, and allow yourself to enjoy the moment.  You certainly deserve it!

Your fit betch,
JP xoxo

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