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Confession. My most successful clients are those who cheat. The people who trust themselves more than they trust me. Let’s be honest; any doctor, dietitian, health coach or personal trainer who tells you that they know your body better than you do is dead wrong. We can all run the numbers, but the take-home advice is pretty much the same for all the different approaches. More fruit and vegetables, natural whole foods, blah, blah… If we all know this, why are so many of us struggling with overeating and weight gain? Could it be that our lifestyles are too hectic to perceive the signal to stop eating? By default, our busy lifestyles tell us to ignore our body’s natural signals. In desperation, we turn to someone else to write a meal plan or buy some prepackaged guaranteed result that reinforces our suspicion that the professional knows what our body needs more than we do.
This practice of trusting our bodies to dictate our intake is known as “mindful eating.” It is an approach that so many do not understand. Many won’t give it a chance because of fear that eating anything and everything their body craves with wild abandon will lead to catastrophic weight gain. Even those who embrace my favorite book on the subject (Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole) often come away thinking the approach is nothing more than a ticket to indulge. Being intuitive simply means being aware of how food appeals to you (appearance, aroma, and taste), then trusting your interpretation of these physiological cues to monitor hunger and satiety, and eat accordingly. An experienced mindful eater will still use knowledge, research, meal planning, and past experiences to make healthy food choices, yet trust their own body to determine when and how much to eat.
It seems simple, but the concept of becoming THAT in tune with their body feels like a long shot, for some. I know that activities like meditation, journaling, yoga, or even a quiet mealtime environment can help you become more aware of the physiological cues your body sends. However, I have a type A personality and I have no doubt that sitting still to journal for five minutes in the morning would force me to choose between feeding my kids breakfast and shaving my legs… and THAT makes me feel like stress eating. So, I was having a hard time bridging the gap between reality and perfection by DOING NOTHING.
Yoga was a more active way to make that peaceful connection between mind and body that worked, for me. According to Harvard researchers, “Both years of yoga practice and number of minutes of practice/week [are] associated with better mindful eating scores.” (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat).
Another ongoing study of more than 15,000 adults in their 50s at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle led by Alan Kristal, demonstrated that overweight people who did yoga at least once a week for 4+ years lost an average of 5 pounds. The control group in that study gained an average of 13.5 lbs. (http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/surprising-way-gentle-yoga-can-help-you-lose-serious-weight).
So, I dare you to take the challenge! Try some yoga. Then, go out on a limb and question my perfectly counted macros with 6 small meals/day. If you end up indulging in more than the measured amount, you might not be as ravenous when the next snack is on the schedule. Maybe you could even swap two of those tiny scheduled snacks for a beautiful family meal.
As a graduate of BYU with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics, Kristi has worked in many different places including the Center for Change, the Utah Valley Specialty Hospital, and is the owner of Nourish Nutrition Services. Life outside of work is enhanced by five delightful kids who are active in various sports, gardening, horses, and many activities in the great outdoors.