Seems simple right? So simple almost to the point that it seems silly to be told how to eat. However in today’s society, media is constantly telling us how to eat: what foods to not eat, how much to eat, how many calories, carbs, protein, macros… It’s easy to get carried away with the latest trends and become obsessed with how to eat, when in fact, it should be the simplest thing – a no-brainer – you do in life.
I used to be obsessed with calories. I would count all of them. When I was fourteen, I was so silly to the point that I would not eat a sweet (which was probably just 4cals) because I was scared it was going to make me fat. However, I had my times of ups and downs (in weight and relationship with food) and I can say that to a large extent, despite weighing 10kgs more than I did when I was counting, I am more comfortable in my body than I ever have been. Confidence is really not a number but a feeling. More importantly, after over nine years, my relationship with food is starting to become somewhat normal again.
I’m sure many dieters have come across the term: intuitive eating. With its fancy name, it sounds like another trend. However in my opinion, intuitive eating is just the fancy term for how we ate as children – or even how we were born to eat.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t care less whether I finished the food on my plate. I just wanted to go play the moment I felt my food didn’t taste as good anymore because I wasn’t hungry anymore. As a twenty year old, I get a sick satisfaction out of knowing I am able to finish everything on my plate despite my body saying its had enough. I believe this satisfaction is partly due to my restrictive past, where I would weigh out and calculate food and eat it even if it wasn’t what I wanted to eat at the time – let alone, if you body was hungry for it. I was completely out of touch with my body and myself.
Despite not being at my dream weight (although I am by no means overweight), I am claiming to be no expert on being ‘lean’, I believe I have come across the secret on how to have your cake and eat it too aka. how to eat and BE thin or at least a healthy weight natural to your body. That secret is: intuitive eating (eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full).
But I understand that for people who have gone through diet after fad diet, it’s natural to have lost touch with our intuitive appetite. What I’ve come across that helps to get back to eating naturally is a japanese teaching: hara hachi bu. This means to eat until you’re 80% full. It takes a bit of experimenting and practice to get the hang of but if you practice it enough, you’ll slowly start to hear your body again, and you’ll become your natural lean self again.
This teaching is beautiful because it allows you complete freedom. No more forbidden foods or overeating in calories. Nothing is black/white. You learn that if you want something you can have it, and funnily, you don’t go crazy when you have it.
Again, I am no expert in eating this way. I seem to love/hate overeating. I find that when I focus too much on my eating/diet then that’s when I tend to start gaining weight and find it most difficult to practice. When I am busy with my actual life (not revolving around food) then I start slimming down. Therefore, I find the secret is not to obsess over what you eat or trying to get this natural way of eating right. Listen to your body and it will happen naturally.
Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that eating this way is not just for your waistline. What I find most liberating, is that it gives me the free to eat whatever I what and whenever I want – so long as my body (not my mind) is hungry. With this freedom comes time to focus on other things that are more important in life: my studies, friends, family, future career… which I believe is beautifully summarised in this quote:
If you get one thing out of this post: remember that there are more important things than losing a kg in life. I’ve been there and I understand how fulfilling seeing the scale go down can be – but I find true fulfilment comes in leading a truly happy life, one where your time of day isn’t confined to and defined by counting numbers.
Trust me, I’ve never felt so full as when I’m fully living my life.