Learning to Listen to Your Body: 5 Things to Try to Lose Instead of Weight
Listening to your body is hard when you’ve been trained to distract yourself from your unwanted hunger. We’ve been told that if you’re ACTUALLY hungry, vegetables will suffice. There’s also the advice, “Ok, have your treat, but only the serving size on the container”. None of this works, am I right? Your body knows what it wants and when you deny it something, that is literally all it will want until you give in. We’ve been trained to distrust our bodies. We are told that they can’t be trusted, that if we eat the way we want our weight will get way out of control!
Learning to listen to your body uncomplicates situations of this battle between your mind and food. When you listen to your body you can have some cookies, feel satisfied and move on. No more struggle or guilt. Following food rules of serving sizes or specific calorie counts doesn’t make sense. How does anybody else know how much you should be eating? I know, I know Dietitians are supposed to know. However, every single body out there is different, we are not the experts of your body, you are! So how can you start listening to your body? Let’s start with losing these habits:
Living by food rules - This is a big one and a difficult one! Food rules are so ingrained in us that it takes a lot of work to forget them. Food rules are anything that tells us when we are allowed to eat or how much to eat (ie. “I can’t eat after supper or before lunch”, “I can only have this many carbs at each meal”).
We give ourselves food rules because we don’t trust our bodies. We believe that if we don’t try to follow these food rules we won’t be able to stop eating and gain a lot of weight. Our culture has ingrained in us a huge fear of weight gain.
However, weight changes and fluctuations in life are normal! We can’t expect to be the same size our whole life. These weight changes do not make us automatically unhealthy.
Our bodies don’t need food rules, our bodies know exactly what we need to be healthy and satisfied. When we were born our bodies knew exactly when we needed food and how much. And guess what, we don’t grow out of that intuition, we silence our bodies’ intuition with food rules.
So how do we silence these food rules and try to tune back in to listening to our bodies? Start by questioning the food rules you have, ask yourself why you need this rule. Sometimes you don’t even realize how many rules you have.
Comparing yourself and your plate to others - Comparing yourself to others never works out well. If you are learning to listen to your body, comparing your plate to someone else’s will only make you question your choices.
Maybe you were extra hungry today and you ate more than your husband. That is totally fine, that is what your body needed.
Maybe you had birthday cake at work because you were feeling a sweet treat would be nice. That is totally fine, that is what your body needed. Again, you are the expert of your body, nobody else can tell you what you need.
Of course when we talk about comparison, we can’t forget to talk about comparing our bodies to others. In our minds we know that everyone has different genetics, hormone levels, metabolism etc. that make up their body composition. But in our deep subconscious we still believe that we can change our body to look just like someone else's.
The media and our culture has convinced us that all of these factors can be changed with enough hard work (except for genetics!). We need to learn to embrace body diversity. We need to learn to respect our bodies the way they are.
You will always have trouble with food if you can’t accept your body the way it is.
Wearing clothes that don’t fit - Does this sound familiar? You’ve gained a little weight and your clothes don’t really fit anymore. You keep thinking, “I just need to work harder and they will fit again, I can’t imagine buying a bigger size.” Wearing clothes that are too tight is extremely uncomfortable and makes you even more self-conscious about your body. Right? Buying clothes that actually fit is a form of self-care. Wearing clothes that you feel comfortable in help you feel better in your body. Who cares what size you wear? Nobody even knows what size clothes you wear.
Weight talk/negative self talk - Can we stop talking about weight? Commenting on someone else’s weight, even if it is meant to be a compliment is harmful. If someone has lost weight and you say, “hey you look amazing! You’ve lost so much weight!”, you are telling that person that they didn’t look ok before, they only look ok when they are at a lower weight. If/when they regain weight they will internalize that they don’t look ok anymore. Intentional weight loss does not work, and the pursuit of weight loss is damaging to our mental and physical health. What you say to yourself is damaging as well.
Do you look in the mirror and say horrible things in your head? Do you see a recent picture of yourself and freak out in your mind?
How you feel about yourself and what you say to yourself matters. It actually matters most. What does it matter what other people think? Your body is the only place you have to live and the better you feel about yourself, the better you will take care of yourself.
Checking the scale - Get rid of the scale! Don’t give it any more power over you! It is an arbitrary number that holds way too much power over your self worth. I recently heard a coworker say “my scale and I are on bad terms right now.” If that’s how you feel, then smash that scale! Take a baseball bat to it!
There is literally no need to know the number. You are so much more than that number!
The culture we live in loves to guilt and shame you into the pursuit of shrinking your body. Your body is so incredible, you need to give it more credit! Your body knows what it needs to be healthy and stay at a healthy weight (which may be higher for some and lower for others). In order to start trusting and listening to your body’s wisdom, you need to give up food rules, stop comparing your plates and your body to others, you need to wear clothes that fit, stop negative body talk and self talk, and throw away your scale!
Are you ready to live life at peace with your body and with food?
Are you ready to reject our culture’s standards of beauty and health?
If you’re ready to work on building trust, respect and confidence in yourself and your food choices apply for one-on-one coaching with me today!