Learn how to listen to your body’s natural hunger cues and develop a healthy relationship with food!
For my first blog post, I knew that I had to share my insights on diet culture and the concerning concept of dieting in general. I am still surprised by the fact that we live in a diet-obsessed culture that promotes the desire for thinness, in the name of health and performance. It has convinced most of us that if we follow strict dietary guidelines and lose a few pounds, only then, will we adequately fuel our bodies for optimal results.
In many instances, even athletes are presented with this detrimental mindset that has become commonplace in our culture. Instead of depriving themselves, athletes need to take extra care of themselves and nourish their bodies properly. Athletes need adequate fuel in order to be strong and physically fit enough to endure rigorous practices, tough games or tournaments, and recover effectively.
There’s no doubt about it, the relationship between the human body, nutrition, and athletics is a truly complicated one.
As an experienced Registered Dietitian, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with an approach grounded in mindfulness and rooted in the intuitive eating and behavioral modification approach, I decided to explore the idea of merging these two.
Before we dig deeper, let’s first understand what intuitive eating is and how the behavioral treatment approach can help you fuel and heal your body, while also developing a healthy relationship with food.
Eat what feels right.
If you try to search what intuitive eating is, you’ll most likely find that it’s defined as “a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought”. It comes from the simple idea of listening to your body and eating the foods that feel right to you. In other words, the goal is to make peace with all food and to honor your health by listening to your body’s natural signals.
Quit focusing on weight and ditch the restriction and deprivation mentality. This way of thinking dictates what, when, and how much you eat but it only measures success in terms of weight loss, not overall health or athletic performance.
How could this apply to athletes?
Often, athletes are encouraged or may feel pressured to, follow rigid dietary regimens that cause them to ignore their body’s natural hunger signals. Ignoring your body’s innate cues for hunger and satiety can ultimately lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
Through my nutrition and performance sessions, I’ve become incredibly aware of the fact that it’s not about looks or appearances. The most important things that athletes need to focus on are enhancing physical performance and effective recovery.
At first, no one feels the long-term negative side effects of dieting such as:
- Lower base metabolic rate
- Suppressed immunity
- Increased injury risk
- Worsened body composition
- Muscle deprivation
- Decreased endurance
- Decreased recovery time
Unfortunately, focusing only on weight loss and following rigid dietary plans can lead to yo-yo dieting and a disordered eating pattern that can have detrimental effects on your long-term health.
Eating is a fundamental behavior for everyone.
At first, it may be confusing to understand how exactly the intuitive eating and behavioral modification approach can help you avoid the negative effects of dieting. As mentioned above, intuitive eating is not about pressuring yourself to lose weight. It is not about weight at all. However, behavior modification therapy is about self-control over cravings, having realistic goals, and managing one’s weight wisely. Why? Because eating is a fundamental behavior for everyone.
It’s a personal and dynamic process, which includes 10 principles:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Respect Your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise—Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
How to get started?
- TRUST YOUR BODY.
- Be realistic.
- Focus on a healthy eating style, not on dieting.
- Think long-term.
- Start to follow experienced registered dietitians and nutrition professionals on social media.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and if you feel like you’re ready for a change, drop me a private message here. My 1:1 coaching is offered in a few commitment packages with onboarding and follow-up sessions based on your individual needs and personalized towards your personal nutrition and fitness history, progress, and behavior change needed.