The Last Diet You'll Ever Go On
"Diet" is a four letter word clouded with empty promises and cellophane wrapped snacks that taste like cardboard, and leave us yearning for more. Diet no longer relates to our health, but rather a label: low carb, paleo, ketogenic, South Beach, vegan, gluten free. It's an overwhelming way to identify ourselves. What if we could free our anxiety, self-esteem, and hunger from the four letter prison holding us hostage?
What if we could free our anxiety, self-esteem, and hunger from the four letter diet prison holding our bodies hostage?
My want for food is overwhelming. Always a binger, never a purger, I couldn't handle fasting if someone payed me to do it. Less is more does not compute when I have food on the brain. Recently, I watched the Netflix original, To the Bone, a quiet and thoughtful exploration of anorexia. I thought about the power of the brain over food and vice versa. Our willpower can control what we eat to either extreme, but, in a first world country driven by want and excess, many of us don't even know what it really feels like to be hungry.
In a first world country driven by want and excess, many of us don't even know what it feels like to be hungry.
Our choices in food and in life are driven by our conscious or subconscious. In a world noisy with technology, advertisement, and chronic busyness, our subconscious or intuition is hard to hear. We no longer listen to our body's needs, we eat with our brain out of boredom, sadness, depression, or any other emotional state. Food becomes entertainment instead of what our bodies needs: fuel.
Food becomes entertainment instead of what our bodies needs: fuel. We no longer listen to our body's' needs, we eat with our brain.
Adapting to our needs instead our wants isn't easy. We can't change ingrained patterns overnight but with thoughtfulness and practice diet labels disappear.
I started my diet experiment with the simple task of muscle testing whether I was hungry or not. Muscle testing is the principle of tapping into the subconscious through the electrical current running through our bodies. By stating a "true" or "false" statement, muscles display strength or weakness depending on your subconscious answer. I say "I am hungry," while standing vertical with my eyes closed. If my body needs food, it agrees with this statement, and I sway forward. If it's a "no," I sway backwards, all without conscious intention.
After a few weeks of this mindful eating, I started to recognize patterns, and actual signs and symptoms of hunger I never knew how to identify. Most importantly, I learned I need a lot less food than I thought. This may seem like an extreme or "woo-woo" tactic, but it is just one method of listening to your body's true need for nutrients.
Here are some less "woo-woo" ways to approach the perfect diet for your body.
- Ask yourself why you want to eat. Is it a genuine moment of hunger, does the food look delicious, or is the snack a reward for a job well done?
- Give yourself the chance to recognize hunger. Take the opportunity to stave off cravings long enough to register actual hunger, the more familiar you are, the better you can gage what your body actually needs.
- Eat slowly. Taking the time to really notice, enjoy, and appreciate nourishment allows even the smallest portion to fulfill both the mind and the stomach. There should never be a real reason to rush eating. We are not the runt of the litter begging for food. Don't shove another grape in your mouth while you're still chewing the last one.
- Don't clean your plate. When you're done you're done. Nobody will yell at you if you don't clean your plate. Less actually is more.
- Ask yourself which foods are right for you. I muscle test food all the time. But it always works to ask your body, and go with your gut which foods will make your body happy rather than which foods will just feed your emotions.
Our bodies are wise. We don't need to listen to the chatter of the four letter word and its cardboard breakfast bars. All the answers we need to sensible diet, caloric intake, and anything else that terrifies us about inches and pounds is knowledge we already have. We just have to listen.
Are you a fan of muscle testing? A mindful eater? Do you have any other great tips for banishing dieting and listening to your intuition? Tell me about it in the comments!