Monday, October 12, 2020

Back with purpose

"The best way out is through."

Robert Frost

There's much to discuss. I know. And I'll get to it all I promise. But my goal with this blog was to help educate through my own experimentation and experience and I haven't done a very good job of that in over a year. So I begin again in the hopes of helping those who read. 

This week's topic involves something that at one time or another, we've all done. However, with the stress of quarantine/COVID and the social justice issues we've faced the last 7 months, we are seeing more of it than ever. We call it mindless eating. 

If you follow Iron Flag Fitnesses Insta, I discussed this on our Wellness Wednesday post. I touched on the topic of physical hunger vs. emotional hunger. Its important to recognize the signs of each so you can determine what you actually feel. So let's dig in -

Physical hunger cues
1. Comes on slowly, takes time to develop
2. You desire a variety of foods, not one particular food group
3. Able to eat until you feel a sensation of satiety, less prone to over-eating.
4. Feel good about your food selection after you finish eating. 

Emotional hunger cues 
1. Comes on suddenly 
2. Desire/crave one particular food group - primarily highly palatable foods, think prepackaged, high in carbs and fat. 
3. Never feel a sensation of being full, feel more like you could continue to eat without ever reach satiety
4. Feelings of guilt or shame post eating

Now that we've identified what to be aware of, what can we do about it? Before we discuss that, its important to keep these things in mind - this is fixable, it simply requires habit building, you have the tools to learn your hunger cues intuitively - we were born with them - and with time and a little bit of work, you can be more dialed in to your personal cues.

Step 1 - recognize what's going on around you. Often, we are in more stressful situations when we eat mindlessly. This doesn't mean that we are necessarily in the midst of chaos, rather, it means we can feel stressed because of things going on in our lives - the stress of working from home, the stress of working from home while your kids are e-learning, the stress of going to work with the uncertainty of being exposed to COVID, the list goes on. Take 5 minutes to step back, have a drink of water and assess. Am I hungry or am I looking to food for comfort? Am I using food to avoid dealing with something like my job or my family? During this time, drink a full glass of water. 8-12 ounces. Set a timer if you have to. After the time is up, re-assess. If you are still hungry, then eat. But that 5 minutes should help you realize that if you are really hungry, you will make better decisions as to what you eat.

Step 2- Eat slowly. I have a really hard time with this. We are constantly rushed, always feeling like we need to get to the next thing and not really enjoying our meals. But have you ever eaten so fast that within minutes after stopping you feel pretty terrible? Bloated, over-full, lethargic? That's due to our satiety hormones taking longer to catch up to our GI system. So we overeat, never really feeling full until its too late and we are staring at a now empty bag of Chips Ahoy. So how do we eat slower? Start with putting your utensil down between bites allowing yourself to chew your food and actually swallow before your next one. If you're like me, not only put down the utensil, count to 3 before picking it back up. (At dinnertime, if I didn't do this, I'd clear out my entire fridge of food). This allows your brain to catch up to your stomach so you will fuller, faster. 

Step 3 - Eat until you are 80% full. This admittedly takes a bit more practice. However, if you are doing the above step, learning your 80% will happen quickly. But you may be wondering, what does 80% feel like? Here it is - you have eaten to a point where you are comfortable. You don't feel stuffed, you feel like you could get up and go for a walk without dragging yourself out the door, and you feel good about what you just ate. No guilt. Keep a journal as to what you are feeling at this point. Give yourself 15 minutes. If you still feel hungry, then eat a bit more. Slowly, mindfully. Journaling can be an extremely useful tool to keep you mindful as to what's happened in the past and prevent yourself from repeating habits that you don't like. 

Again these habits take time but can be done. Be patient with yourself as you go through this process. And as always, reach out with questions. I'm here to help.

Stay strong,