I was recently at Panera watching a family enjoy their lunch. The little girl was sitting on her dad’s lap, barely a year old, didn’t even have teeth and yet she was trying to eat an apple of all things. Her little brother was sitting right across from her eating a grilled cheese sandwich so slowly because he kept on getting distracted by looking out the window.
Eating when you’re a kid is simple, how does it get so complex as you get older?
The week before, I was at that same Panera with a co-worker who was sitting across from me picking the croutons out of his salad. He then handed me his fresh-baked bread and said, “I’m watching my weight right now.”
Young children are natural intuitive eaters. As we get older, we forget that we have that gift.
It is not uncommon for someone to say, “I’m not dieting…..I’m just eating mindfully” and yet they’re still counting calories in their head, avoiding foods like bread, and then shaming their bodies.
Eating mindfully has become synonymous with dieting. We live in a diet-centered culture with body image constantly being judged. It’s easy to become numb to it when it’s all around you.
BUT IT’S A BIG REASON WHY YOU COULD BE STRUGGLING WITH YOUR WEIGHT AND RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD.
For the longest time I was struggling with my own weight even though I was “eating mindfully.”
It turns out I had a BIG internal conflict where I kept sabotaging my diet.
I was a Foodie and a Closet Dieter!
I had “Eating Mindfully” all wrong because I was still carrying old programming about dieting. I’d been on diets ever since I was a teenager. There was a love and hate relationship with food. My body was something I felt disconnected to.
There was no concept of how to use my own intuition to manage my weight and my overall health. I simply didn’t trust myself around food.
I love food and so closet dieting was not the way I wanted to live my life. Intuitively I new this, I just didn’t know how to change it.
Our physical body is a manifestation of what is happening within. When there is internal conflict…..there is physical pain. Internal conflict is a sign that we need to change things so that we are more in alignment with our intuition.
When we’re not aligned with our intuition we can unconsciously create chronic low levels of stress, which can wreck havoc on your nervous system making it impossible to lose weight. It doesn’t stop there. Chronic stress is also associated with chronic pain, digestive problems, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune issues. When I struggled with my weight it was often accompanied with back pain, constipation, or fatigue.
Do you find it difficult to lose weight and keep it off even though you eat “healthy?”
Are you struggling with overeating or cravings? No matter how much you want to lose weight, you find yourself “cheating?”
In addition to weight gain, do you also suffer from other chronic stress health issues like pain or fatigue?
These could all be signs of internal conflict causing confusion about your body and diet. They are symptoms that your intuitive nutritionist needs empowerment.
Here’s three questions you can ask yourself to find out if you’re really “eating mindfully” from an intuitive approach or unconsciously Closet Dieting.
#1 Do you rely on your internal signals or external signals for cues on eating?
Mindful Intuitive Eaters know how to listen to their body, they feel sensations of hunger, and then they eat. They feel fullness and then they stop eating. They are in tune with how, what, and when to nourish their body.
Closeted dieters go off a schedule and seek outside counsel. It’s 9 a.m. and so it’s time to eat breakfast even though they might not even feel hungry. They are more likely to follow meal plans or trendy eating programs all in the effort to find answers in the chaos of our diet culture “Just tell me what I should eat!” They’ll hire dieticians, fitness trainers, and nutritionist who promise the perfect diet.
The problem with relying on external forces instead of our own intuitive nutritionist is that it interferes with our interoceptivity. This is the gut brain bringing communication to the head brain via the Vagus Nerve. This nerve is responsible for things like sensing fullness and hunger, as well as, decreasing inflammation, and promoting relaxation.
When you spend a lot of years dieting or restricting food, the communication of the Vagus Nerve can get interrupted where you don’t even know how to feel hunger anymore. It can be challenging to pay attention to your fullness.
One of the ways to increase that interoceptivity is by doing yoga. I recommend a daily practice of 10 – 30 minutes plus 2 days a week of class participation where you dive deeper into a longer practice of 1 hour to 1.5 hours. Yoga strengthens the mind and body connection through conscious breathing and mindfulness meditation.
#2 Are you a slow eater or a fast eater?
Mindful Intuitive Eaters are slow eaters. They take their time to look at the food, to smell the food, and to savor the taste by chewing slowly. They breathe between bites, which creates a relaxation response in the body that aids in food digestion.
Fast eaters see eating as another thing to check off the list because they’re busy! Other stuff is more important than eating. So it’s not uncommon to multitask like working while they eat.
The problem is that the body doesn’t know whether you have a deadline at work or you’re running from a tiger. Eating fast triggers a stress response in the body which leads to blood flowing away from digestion and to the limbs so that you can be ready to fight or flight. This is what creates digestive problems like IBS, constipation, bloating and overeating.
#3 Do you label food as good or bad?
Mindful Intuitive Eaters do not judge food. Nachos is not bad, bread isn’t bad. Vegetables are not good. It’s just food. They do not attach a certain perception to food. They recognize the value of food quality and do not judge themselves for eating low quality foods.
Whereas the closet dieter will look at nachos and bread as bad because the perception is that it makes you fat.
I remember the days when I thought like that.
I was “good” all week because I would eat “clean” with a ton of vegetables. Then I’d have a stressful emotional trigger and by Friday, I’m grinding my teeth. “Okay girls, let’s go to happy hour!” It starts out with a couple of cocktails but by the end of the night I’m ordering chicken wings & French fries…..all of which are “bad.”
I felt guilt and shame after eating those foods.
The problem is that we associate these “bad” foods with our own identity. “I’m ‘bad’ for eating that ‘bad’ food.” This type of thinking creates more chronic low levels of stress that we experience at often times an unconscious level.
Guess what? Again, the stress response is activated and the body’s metabolism is compensated.
If you find yourself still holding on to a little bit of that closet dieter thinking or behavior, that is okay.
Awareness is key, a Buddhist philosopher Thin Nhat Hahn once said, “Awareness is like the Sun where it shines light there is transformation.”
Transformation can be long and hard. I know because I struggled for most of my life with diet and body image.
There is another approach that is way more effective, fun, pleasurable, sustainable, and uplifting.
Intuitive Mindful Eating is a gateway to life transformation. When done authentically, it can heal not only your relationship with food and body but also elevate your entire life.
Through my 12 Week Intuitive Eating Program you’ll learn how to tap into your inner nutritionist and release any emotional weight that is blocking your body transformation.
The best part is that these tools apply to everything in your life! Past clients have not only found peace with food and body, but also changed careers, and discovered new enriching hobbies.
Want to explore? Email me for a Free Consultation: