A Fresh Approach
by Kerstin Martin
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the information out there when it comes to dieting, weight loss, fat shaming, obesity epidemic and everything in between?
From the dieting (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig) and food lifestyle (Paleo, Keto etc) proponents to the Healthy-At-Every-Size and Intuitive Eating supporters, everyone has an opinion and mission when it comes to how we see and treat our bodies. And I get it, I've read the books and followed the blogs, always in the hope that what they offered was the answer to my problems. Alas, after four decades of absorbing a lot of information and trying to make changes I realized that I felt lost and defeated, and I had gained a lot of weight in the process which was beginning to seriously impact my health. I can of course only ever speak for myself but I knew that I needed to find my own truth.
I am looking for the connection between all of it:
I want to learn to eat more intuitively and listen to my body, but I also want to lose a significant amount of weight to alleviate related health issues.
At its core Intuitive Dieting™ means using dieting methods to control how much I eat and following the Intuitive Eating principles to determine what I eat and when.
I keep asking myself: Are you hungry, what do you want? There are many types of hunger! The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating help me understand the difference between my mind’s and my body’s hunger and I am learning to create more alignment between the two.
My body is infinitely wise. An obese body does not, for instance, want a lot of food but I've been ignoring those messages for a long time. With Intuitive Dieting I use dieting methods to learn to eat less and to reconnect with my bodies' natural hunger signals.
I am not just putting any food on the table that is within my plan but I am actively working with my body to give it what it needs.
There is a very basic mechanism to weight loss: Eat less and expend more. Create a calorie deficit and you will lose weight.
How we create this deficit is a very individual preference that is usually informed by our physical and cultural environment as well as our personality and food history. Whatever food plan you follow (Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Intermittent Fasting etc) if you are losing weight on it, it is because you are creating a calorie deficit. Many of these plans cut out high calorie foods and weight loss is a side effect of that. Personally, the idea of removing certain food groups feels too restrictive and the only thing that's ever worked for me consistently is portion control through Calorie Counting. This way I can learn what my body needs and I only eat foods I love. But you can chose any healthy dieting method that works with your own preferences and lifestyle.
What doesn't work is the all-or-nothing diet mentality and our resistance to examining and reprogramming deeply rooted emotional patterns. I use calorie counting to help me control my portions so to create the calorie deficit I need to lose weight. It works. If I stick to it. Which of course is the mind-maze where everything tends to go wrong. I realized that calorie counting would never work for me as long as I regarded it as this external thing that would save and fix me.
But what if I started searching for the answers within and used dieting as a structural support tool to get me going and to lean on when things got a little tough on the soul searching side of things?
Digging deep into the core of whatever it is that causes us to turn to food for comfort can be difficult and draining – and the resistance monster will rear its ugly head on a regular basis and try and send us straight back into the arms of Ben & Jerry. Those are the times when the Calorie Counting part of my program becomes really important and when, for instance, tracking my food is helping me not fall back into old habits. The structure provided by this external piece of my program helps me immensely while I do the internal work that is needed for making lasting healthier changes.