What Nutritional Principles Have You Learned From the Media?
The internet and fitness industry is riddled with these types of misguided statements. Whether it is a product of the thinking of our culture or our own naivete, many are sucked into trendy “quick fix” marketing tactics and ploys which promise immediate results without regard to considering the long-term implications and not realizing they already have a built in genius within to guide them. This is no more easily seen and experienced than in the food and dieting industry. It is time to get back to the primitive basics of nutrition that many have forgotten. Hidden among all the smattering of misinformation and money driven marketing are these time tested, foundational nutritional principles of eating that don’t require some special degree or advanced learning to understand and master. They are what you have always known from childhood up but may have forgotten or been lost in the deluge of information.
Respect Your Physiological Hunger
What is the most fundamental reason we eat? Take away all the distractions of modern living and look at our primal ancestors. They ate to survive. The main reason we eat is to provide fuel for our bodies. Hunger is truly the core of our biological programming that ensures our survival as a species. Each cell in our bodies is so intent on making sure we eat and have sufficient fuel, that not only are our bodies designed to make us feel miserable when we’re hungry (irritable, light-headed, weak, etc.) but they are also constructed to reward us when we do eat. We trigger built in pleasure centers in our brains when we eat, similar to the act of intimacy, both of which reinforce programming that fundamentally helps the survival and propagation of our species. Hunger should always determine when we eat, how much we eat and not some calorie calculator or point system.
You body really does need to know all the time that it will have access to food—that dieting and deprivation are not forever. If you aren’t hungry don’t eat. If you are hungry eat. Without any regard to what is going on around you or what time it is or when you last ate or didn’t eat—when you feel the sensations of hunger your body wants you to eat, when you feel satisfied or full your body does not want you to eat. This is your whole nutritional guide for the rest of your life. This means it is ok to leave food on your plate and not finish your meal despite being taught since you were young about waste. This means it is ok to eat at odd hours of the day or have seconds or even thirds if your body is still sending the signal of needing more nourishment even when your significant other may say: “There is no way you should still be hungry.” This means its ok to eat twice a day or seven times a day if that is what you body needs or wants. Your own hunger and satiety trumps and takes precedence over everything else. The built in hunger and satiety feedback system in your hypothalamus is the most sensitive “calorie counter” or “point system” ever and accurate 100% of the time.
Listen to and Trust Your Body
You don’t need food regulations or rules to guide your choices. You don’t need to “fight” your desires. All you need to do is respect your body and recognize it knows the best way to a healthy and perfect you. Becoming sensitive to internal cues and nudges and ignoring external cues whether imposed by culture, parents, family or friends, is the key to learning to trust that your body does know how to best take care of itself. I know this sounds overly simplistic, but it is meant to be. Your body is all about preserving, protecting, sustaining and magnifying you to be your best imaginable self. You are not dependent on some outside “expert” or dietician to tell you what you should eat, how much you should eat and when you should eat it. How is some pre-programmed meal plan or dietician going to know when you are hungry or how much food it will take to satisfy you? How can anyone but you know what pleases your palate? Your own experience is the greatest teacher and has trained you to know what works best for you and what does not under sound nutritional principles. Stop listening to all the noise and propaganda around you and go within. Work with your body and not against it. Above all trust that your body is hardwired with all the information and experience necessary to guide you in your food choices. The reason diets always fail is they don’t take into account your unique individual body signals and need for autonomy. Your body wants to be in charge of food decisions and each externally imposed restriction is an insult to its innate intelligence and an assault on its autonomy. It is like having a vehicle with the most sophisticated, intricate built in GPS system imaginable to navigate yet everyone around you telling you to still stop and ask random strangers for directions. To restore its own autonomy and assert is own superiority the body will always subconsciously rebel against these outside restraints imposed by diets until and unless it is finally given back full charge of all food decisions.
There are No Forbidden Foods
Food is too often made the enemy nowadays. It is time to make peace with food. Food is just energy and fuel to your body nothing more. There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods only food. Food has no desire to make you “fat” or “thin” or “ugly” or “beautiful.” Psychologist Fritz Heider has taught that “the moment you banish a food, it paradoxically builds up a ‘craving life’ of its own that gets stronger with each diet, and builds more momentum as the deprivation deepens.” In her book Never Too Thin Roberta Pollack Seid talks about how our beliefs about food resemble dietary laws of a false religion—we pay homage to dieting and its rules, but it doesn’t work. We are a nation that worships the lean body. No one food has the power to make you fat or help you become slim. You do not have to “earn” or be “deserving” of food. It is not somehow morally superior and more virtuous to be eating foods associated with slimness and guiltlessness. You do not have to “earn” or be “deserving” of food.
The key to eradicating the pattern of restraint and subsequent overeating is to give yourself unconditional permission to eat. You have permission to eat what you want without any repercussions from the food police. You are never not deserving of food. There is no obligatory penance with eating (I can eat this but I need to run an extra mile tomorrow). When you free your food choices, without any covert plan of restricting them in the future, you eliminate the urgency to overeat. The sooner you banish forever the idea that there are “forbidden” foods the sooner you will reach the point where food serves you and not the other way around. It is then that many no longer have any desire or craving for the very foods that had been prohibited for so long.
You ARE Healthy NOW!
Many can be sucked into the false notion that their self-worth, confidence and emotional and psychological well-being is tied up in their weight, health and appearance. One of the problems with dieting is it tends to erode self-confidence and make one mostly dependent on some external schedule, program or advice. It also seems to contribute to the notion of not accepting one’s body until and unless they reach a certain weight, look or eat a certain way. This leads to the sense that feeling good about yourself, your body and your life depends on reaching a certain size or weight.
Body image expert and psychologist Judith Rodin teaches: “You don’t need to lose weight first in order to take care of yourself. In fact, the process actually happens quite in the reverse!” When you make taking care of yourself and feeling good about yourself now your main priority, you will loosen up and allow change to come quickly. Repeated bad experiences with dieting may have caused you to develop a demeaning attitude toward your body. When you are caught in the “I hate my body” “I am fat and ugly” mindset, it becomes too easy to delay good things for yourself, feeling you have to wait until you have a body that is more deserving. Without recognizing the state of health and well being you already enjoy now and how deserving you are of feeling good about your body now, no amount of weight loss, body transformation or disciplined eating will ever help you accept yourself or make peace with the amazing body that you already have. Praise, adore and love the body you have NOW and stand back and watch as it is transformed into its perfect biological form.
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