Originally published as a guest post on MizFit.
Calories In > Calories Out = Weight loss. The formula seems simple enough and so for anyone who has undertaken a weight loss journey it starts here. We are ready to finally take control of our food habits. I was no different and spent years tallying every morsel and tracking the number on the scale to prove I was doing it right…until I realized that I wasn’t in control of the food; it was controlling me.
I started to read MizFit and she kept talking about “Intuitive Eating”. I dug for more information, hoping for a plan, more answers, more tools…but that is the blessing and curse of intuitive eating. It’s so simple that we all know how to do it, we just don’t.
It felt unnatural to let go of the numbers which had created a safety blanket for me. But I was spending far too much time worrying about food and very little time enjoying food, so something needed to shift. The first step in my new journey was to focus on eating 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. I didn’t care how I got them, but that small switch helped me to start thinking of food in positive terms.
I kept calorie counting mind you because it was too scary to let that go. Until I had another moment where I realized the numbers were working against me. If it was 8PM and my little journal showed that I “had calories left” it wouldn’t matter if I was hungry or not, the ice cream came out, the cookies were demolished. I could feel ok about staying within my numbers, but my body wasn’t benefiting and I was kind of confused…what caused me to suddenly start eating when I didn’t even want food?
RETURNING TO MEALS
A friend and sports dietician reviewed my food logs as I started ramping up the miles for the New York City Marathon. Her first request was that I stop snacking and start eating. I couldn’t figure out what she meant! Didn’t all the research say my grazing patterns were a good thing? Maybe. But not if I wanted to learn to listen to my actual hunger and to get my nutrients in a more balanced fashion (important because a lack of nutrients can make you feel hungry).
Just days after switching from all day grazing to eating meals, it became very clear that my cookie habit wasn’t about hunger or even cravings, but simply because the calories said I could. I’m actually eating less now that I have let go of the calorie concern because when I am hungry I can honor that feeling with a full plate of food! Science has also shown that when you ask people what they last ate, they will remember the meal they sat down for and not all the nibbling in between.
Healthy eating is a journey and I know I’ll continue to evolve, but I am really grateful for people like MizFit who continue to show us that no diet book knows us better than our own body.
The holiday season can be one of the toughest times to maintain a healthy relationship with food. But it is possible by listening to your body and focusing on eating as many fruits/veggies as you can each day! By removing the calorie counting and guilt, it becomes easier to enjoy a slice of pie and then return to normal eating. For more tips, support and motivation to ensure this your healthiest holiday season yet, check out the 5th Annual Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge.