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The Psychology of Overeating: 3 Tips to Recondition Your Appetite

Healing | Health

Everyone’s embracing healthy new habits this time of the year.

Yet, did you know one of the greatest things you can do for your weight management and wellbeing is to take a look at how much you’re piling on your plate? Portion size can have just as much of an impact on your shape and size as what you’re putting in your mouth does.

Feast in Winter, Fast in Spring

January is usually when we try faddy diets in an attempt to ditch the pounds gained over the festive period. Yet the truth is during the coldest and darkest months of the year, the body wants to rest, restore, and ready itself for spring.

Trying to survive on lettuce and a restricted diet this season will just make us miserable. My advice is to opt for warming, comforting, grounding, juicy, and nourishing foods that make you feel good, but to practice mindfulness while eating, making sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your belly.

Our Insatiable Appetites and Anxieties

Most of us are totally de-tuned to our appetites. There are so many other things distracting us in these modern times, plus we’ve been brought up in a society where things like “grande,” “super-size,” and “all you can eat” are always available, leading us to believe that more is always better.

Further, the way the food industry operates and farms food to meet the growing needs of the planet’s population means quality is degrading. Nutrients get lost in the production process, depleting even more during distribution.

Then, we get our hands on produce and cook it to within an inch its life. By the time you eat, it has very few benefits at all.

It isn’t any wonder we don’t know when we’re full. Worse, we’re often not even sure we’re hungry to begin with.

Then there’s the guilt: we should all be eating high-protein, low-carb. We should all be vegan, gluten-free, or eating like the French. This is bad, that is good. Dietary ‘advice’ on mainstream media is endless and prescribes a “one size fits all” solution to our dietary and scale-tipping ills.

Throw into the mix waif-like models and the size zero phenomenon, and you have the perfect recipe for food anxiety.

The True Purpose of Food

We seem to have forgotten that we’re all different, with different body types and different needs.

Food used therapeutically can help us heal and feel alive. As humans we have an incredibly intimate and emotional relationship with food that is not only connected with our vitality but our primal, basic need—sustaining life.

Reconnecting to Our Natural Rhythm

The modern 9 to 5 P.M. movement has done our waistlines no favours. While our industry and productivity may have increased, so has our jean size.

According to Ayurveda, the best time to eat your largest meal is lunch, or between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. specifically. This is when your digest fire is at its peak and the body is ready to receive and process the food it needs to fuel you throughout the day.

The trouble is things have become confused, so often we’re cramming things on the run and wait all day before we sit down to a really nutritious meal. If taking control of your health is one of your goals this New Year, then make portion size awareness your priority.

The Benefits of Downsizing Your Portions

  • If you downsize your portions, you’ll kindle, not engulf your digestive fire.
  • If you downsize your portions, you’ll be better placed to tune into your appetite and eat when you’re truly hungry.
  • If you eat only when you’re hungry, your body will instinctively know and communicate to you what it needs. It will also tell you when it’s full.

3 Powerful Tools to Recondition Your Appetite

1. Stop clock-watching.

Stop clock-watching and eating when society dictates mealtimes should be. Let your body find its own rhythm and tell you when it’s hungry. Perhaps three meals a day suits you, perhaps two. Maybe you prefer to eat more in the morning and less at night.

Maybe you’d rather salad for breakfast and cereal for dinner. Take away the rules and go with it for a few weeks while your system resets.

2. Eat what you like.

Eat what you like. Yes, really. In the beginning, just indulge your tastes buds in what they crave. If you need something salty and that means chips, go for it. If you need something sweet and you reach for the cookies, take a few.

Over a period of a few weeks, your body will tell you what it really wants, and you may be surprised to find you naturally make healthier swaps as well as opt for less.

3. Don’t fill your plate too full.

You probably need far less than you think. Cut your portions by a quarter or by half. Take your time deciding what you eat and consider the environment you feast in—make sure food is your focus and not something else. Stop before the final forkful and ask yourself if you really need more.

Finally, don’t feel guilty if you feel like things are getting out of control. Just practice mindful eating and keep an eye on how your food makes you feel. Re-tuning to your natural digestive rhythm takes time.

Featured in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Washington Post
Featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and VOGUE

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