Rather than count calories, I prefer to follow the kindergarten rules, or what my family calls the cottage rules.
You know, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. The very basics of listening to your body also include sleeping when you’re tired and going to the bathroom when you get the urge.
Yes, there are days when I don’t heed those signals. Some days I eat too much; other times I eat too little or stay up too late.
In the end, it all evens out…more or less, maybe gaining or losing a few pounds here and there.
Being healthy is the key for me, more than the weight. Feeling energized enough to do what I want to do in life, and fitting comfortably into my clothes.
With so many variables in life draining our worry batteries, something as basic as eating ought not be added to that list. Better to stay present to your body and your food while you eat it, and pay attention to when it’s had enough or needs more.
So, let me expand on some of those rules.
Here’s a rough guide to some of the ways your body talks to you at mealtime, what it might be saying, and how you might want to respond.
1. Hunger is your body’s way of saying your blood sugar’s getting low, i.e. your brain needs food.
Choose something nutrient dense (not refined) to ensure that your blood sugar will stay on an even keel for a good while.
2. When you start to feel energized during a meal, that’s a sign you’ve had enough and your digestive tract has started to work on it. Yes, this requires you to slow down and draw a certain amount of awareness to your body as you eat.
Stop eating. (Anything left on your plate can be packed away for snack later, or tomorrow’s lunch.)
3. If you feel sluggish at the end of a meal, you may have eaten too much, and more energy than necessary has been diverted to its digestion.
Other than just wait it out, and not engage in anything too strenuous, you can take some bitters to speed the emptying of your stomach.
4. Getting jittery or sleepy immediately after you eat starchy/sweet food can be a signal that you’ve eaten too little protein or fat or fibre in that meal/snack.
Eat a stalk of celery, to help your body metabolize the excess sugar, and a handful of nuts or seeds to add protein, fat and fibre into the mix.
5. A heavy feeling, like the food’s just sitting in your stomach can be the result of a fat-rich meal. For me, it’s always the creamy dessert at the end of a big meal that does it. Alcohol can also slow down or even stop your digestion.
The heavy feeling may also indicate low stomach acid, especially if you just ate a meat meal. Heartburn, belching, constipation and gas are other symptoms of that state.
Drink a shot of water with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to stimulate your stomach and get things going.
Adolescent rules that also make sense:
When I was 14, my girlfriend and I came up with the rule that if you eat the same number of calories as your best friend, they cancel each other out. We were notorious for making Dagwood-worthy sandwiches and decadently dressed ice cream sundaes, so it was crucial that we find a way to be “allowed” to eat that way and still be true to our Seventeen-inspired world.
There may be no scientific proof, but I still believe in that theory.
Enjoying a meal in the company of people you love, of friends who make you laugh and stimulate your mind – people with whom you can truly be yourself – is just as nourishing to your being as the food on your plate.
Have you ever noticed you can eat some of your no-no food on holiday without issue and you might even lose weight? Or, that you can drink cocktails & wine at a party where you deeply connect with others and get no hangover?
If your heart, your mind and your soul are nourished as well as your body, you raise your vibration, stoke your inner fire, which raises your metabolism. Everything works better, when you’re in your body, in your flow, including your ability to digest, absorb, assimilate and eliminate – you extract the goodness and release anything that doesn’t serve you on all levels.
Which leads me to conclude that the connection to, and expression of, who you are is what matters most to good eating habits. It’s a matter of being your Self.
The bonus? When you’re satiated at a deeper level, you body won’t be looking for the love, connection, attention and fulfillment in a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream.
Note: If you’re working hard to lose weight or have just started a running program or intense exercise of some sort, and it’s best that you do count calories for a time, read this first.
What do you notice your body doing during a meal? Does it change depending on the day? When you share your thoughts in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.
Pass this along to your calorie-concerned friends using any (or all!) of these links.
Thank you for the reminder to eat slowly and listen to the signs!
Ha! Johanne, you are the last person I would think needed to be reminded to slow down…then again times change. Go back to your roots!