Why can’t I control my eating?

January 20, 2022
Posted in Nutrition
January 20, 2022 Kate Morland

The issue with this title of the blog is the word ‘control’…but hopefully I captured your attention to read further. Perhaps you’re trying to control your eating through diet plans and rigid portion sizes. Or perhaps you’re following some set of rules by myfitnesspal or a personal trainer who thinks chicken and rice for lunch every day will suffice with 10 almonds.

Does eating need to be ‘controlled’? How about learning to trust your body’s innate way of telling you when to eat, how much to eat and what to eat! Woah, that sounds a little crazy right?! I encourage you…give intuitive eating training a try. It will take practice, it will take more than 6 weeks, it will be a tool to take through your whole life, not your 8week challenge.

Start with learning the ‘when’.

Do you recognise the signs when you are physically hungry? what about comfortable fed, or gently full?

Ever since we were young, we were told ‘you can’t leave till you finish your plate’, ‘you can’t have dessert until everything is eaten’, but did you know that this has a negative impact on us later in life.

At a young age our intention is to eat when we are hungry and finish when we are comfortably full. However, as we get older these lines begin to blur. Once we start using ‘the time’ or ‘rewards and bribes’ to manipulate our eating we can negatively affect our body’s inbuilt trust around hunger and fullness cues. We can ‘override’ those signals and like someone banging on a door when nobody’s home and eventually stopping, your appetite hormones will also stop being so loud if you continue to ignore them.

Hunger cues is your body’s way of telling you that it needs food. These cues can be different between people, and I like to think they come on gently and quietly and once ignored become louder and more urgent as symptoms worsen. Common signs are:

  • Feeling of emptiness in the stomach
  • Stomach growling
  • Low energy/mood
  • Headaches
  • Shakiness/weakness (is likely urgent hunger)

On the other hand, our appetite cues also tell us when we are full, common signs include:

  • Discomfort of the stomach
  • Not enjoying the food anymore
  • Feeling sluggish

You would think will all these cues, we would know when to start and stop eating, right? However, for many people their hunger cues have become lost overtime, and they find it hard to be in tune with their body. Therefore, it can lead to either undereating or overeating, both of which can affect a person’s health and wellbeing.

So how do you get back in tune with your hunger cues?

Mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a strategy towards an individual’s appreciation and experience around food. It’s about making time to focus on your appetite cues and all your sensations around eating, taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight.

There are quite a few exercises you can do with mindful eating which may include:

  • Eating at table, with no distractions of the television or other external forces
  • Stopping halfway through eating to challenge yourself to notice if you are still hungry or not
  • Write down your hunger cues and identify when you are hungry and when you are full
  • To observe food with curiosity and being aware of all your sensations

Understanding your hunger cues will take time and patience, especially if years have gone by where you have been suppressing these cues. If you are struggling with identifying your hunger cues and wanting to get back in tune with your body (just like when you were a child) book an appointment with Kate Morland at https://studiorubix.co.nz/nutrition/.

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