DON’T DIET, EAT RIGHT
You kickstart the year with every intention of eating better, healthier, more sensibly. You sign up for Veganuary, aim to go low-carb, plan to limit cakes and desserts to no more than once a week, and promise to choose caffeine-free tea over coffee … all of which you manage to do in the first week of the year.
Sounds Familiar?Here’s the truth: Most diets don't work in the long run because they are designed for short-term gains. You can only get lasting results through behavioural change and it starts from understanding how your psychology impacts your food decisions. Learning to eat intuitively is key and here’s how you can do it:
Recognise Your HungerAre you really famished or just having cravings? Hunger is very often an emotional cue rather than physiological. If you get peckish in between meals, you could just be bored or stressed. Check-in with yourself and see which of the 6 human hungers you are actually experiencing.
Manage Your EmotionsWhen you’ve identified that emotional cue, find a non-food way to deal with it. Bored? Do something with your hands. Lonely? Call a friend. Stressed? Exercise! There are many things you can do to distract yourself that can be so much more beneficial health wise too.
Pay Attention at Meal TimesDo you tend to shovel food into your mouth without much thought? Mindless eating can lead to overeating as you won’t notice when you’re full and how the food actually tastes. Being present means you can stop when you recognise that you’ve had enough and you’ll tend to make better food choices too.
Don’t Vilify FoodsCarbs are often labelled as evil but they are essential to your well-being. So is fat. The more you restrict yourself, the more you’ll likely want it. This is not to suggest a free-for-all carb fest but figuring out why you’re hung up on a particular food (tip: be mindful of every bite you take and see what thoughts or feelings come to mind) will enable you to have a more functional relationship with it.
Seek Flavours That You EnjoyA study found that people will choose to eat more vegetables if they are described by taste rather than nutritional value. Carrot sticks may be bland on their own, for example, but dip them in hummus and you’ll probably keep reaching out for more. Be creative with your food and incorporate flavours that you like.