Yesterday we looked at how our body physically tells us when we need to eat, through hunger. It tells us what we need to eat, in the guise of ‘I really fancy…’. And it tells us when we’re satisfied, and ready to stop eating. We also looked at how important the environment around you is when you eat. These are the things that you’ll consider when deciding what and how much to eat.
Next, in step 2 – think mind – we consider what we need in a more practical sense
It’s important to think about food in a practical way too.
This step is about being practical about what your meal has to provide for you.
- Are you going to exercise, or have you exercised
- Have you got a busy day ahead of you
- Is there a long period of time between eating this meal and the next
- Maybe you can’t access food, or a shop
- Work hours set the times you can eat
- You’re eating out later and want to make sure you’re not too hungry or too full to enjoy it
You’ve thought about what your body wants.
Now think PRACTICALLY. Get your sensible head on!
In order to protect yourself against being overly hungry, and potentially bingeing or eating without control later (think about that pendulum!) you should consider what the next few hours look like for you.
Ask yourself some questions here
- What does my body need, energy wise?
If you’ve not long exercised, you plan to exercise soon, or you’ve just got a crazy day ahead, you’ll need more energy. A female body will also have different energy requirements at different times of the month. You can’t live on dust and air when your body has so much work to do! Remember, a mentally taxing day also drains energy. Your brain alone uses approximately 25% of your carbohydrate intake each day! The brain absolutely LOVES carbs.
- What do I need to eat to see me through to the next time I can eat?
Try to eat enough food to stave off the hunger. Try to choose food that you want based on your thoughts in step 1, but also consider whether they are satiating (physically filling) enough for you. Sometimes we need to eat more food than we really fancy at that time, so try to make smart choices like food that is easier to eat, food that is small but super satisfying etc
- Can I plan ahead?
Can you take some food with you? Maybe that’s a possibility but you’re worried that you don’t know in that moment what you’ll want to eat later. Could you take a range of foods to suit different tastes so that you can pick which suits you best when you are ready.
- What do I need to eat to stop me obsessing over food?
This part of practical eating is about restriction and satisfaction, and protecting yourself from the binges, rather than not having physical access to food. Here is where the pendulum is at work – consider the pendulum to be about binging and restricting, rather than hunger for this one.
Same situation, 2 different outcomes
Imagine someone has brought cakes and biscuits to work. Maybe your initial reaction is to ‘stay strong’, ‘have willpower’, or ‘be good’ and not have any. Then as the day goes on they are calling your name. All you can think about is the table with the cakes and biscuits. You see other people eating them all. You see the remaining cakes and biscuits disappearing, and now you feel like you’ve really missed out. Maybe much later you ‘give in’ and eat them. You eat a good handful of biscuits and a chunk of cake. Maybe you still don’t eat them, but you go home and you raid the cupboards.
Your pendulum is in full swing. You restricted and restricted (and pulled that pendulum far far over to the left) and so it has to come back through in equal measures, which it does. It creates a binge response, trying to tell you to eat the food, don’t say no to it.
Let’s change that scenario.
Imagine someone has brought cakes and biscuits to work. You like cakes and biscuits, so you thank them. Mid morning you do the office coffee round. What would go well with your coffee? A nice slice of cake! You help yourself to a slice and take a well earned few minutes break from your work. You really enjoy the cake. The flavours, the fresh cream, the jam, the light fluffy sponge. Delicious. You go back to your work. In the afternoon you hit a bit of an energy slump. Those biscuits would be great right now. So you have a couple. No biggie! You’ve enjoyed the biscuits, they’ve given you some energy, and actually they’ve also filled a little bit of a hunger hole that you hadn’t realised you had because you’d been so engrossed in your work. Perfect. That might even tide you over until you’ve had chance to cook your evening meal.
Do you see the difference between those two situations? Do you recognise the tense restricted feelings in scenario 1? Would scenario 2 feel so much better in your body and in your mind? More relaxed maybe?
You might be thinking that you couldn’t possibly have the ‘control’ of the second situation? You might just keep eating if you let yourself have just one biscuit? But this is the beauty of intuitive eating. When you tell yourself that food is there whenever you want it, when you tell your body that it will be fed rather than food withheld, you very rarely have those moments where you feel like you’ve lost control.
So let’s put steps 1 & 2 together now.
Step 1, think body. What do you feel like you want to eat? What do you fancy? What would satisfy you?
Then add step 2, think mind. You’ve decided what sort of food you want. Now think about what you need to do practically to make sure it’s enough food for you? Or what you need to do to prevent a binge response later?
It’s all coming together, isn’t it.
- Think about your daily routine. Are there any small practical changes that you could make? Do you even have a routine? If not, would it help to have one?
- Think about your own energy levels. When do you feel yourself needing more energy? Do you find yourself slowing down mid gym session? Do you have afternoon slumps? Do you find work days you want to eat more than weekends, or vice versa? Did you realise that before this session? Do you allow yourself to eat and top up those energy reserves when your body is asking for it?
- How do you feel about the 2 scenarios that I gave you? Do you feel it in your body as you were listening/reading? Do either of those scenarios resonate with you? What thoughts come up for you when you imagine yourself in those situations?
Here is today’s affirmation. Take it and use it for yourself.
“My actions are intentional and bring me closer to my goals”
Feel free to journal your thoughts and your task answers for yourself in private, or feel free to put your thoughts in the comments section here.