Recognising your bodies cravings and eating habits
The next chapter for developing a healthy relationship with food is to understand your bodies needs, cravings and your eating habits. It’s not as simple as knowing what you crave but truly knowing when, where and how you eat. By recognising times when you do and do not crave foods you are better equipped to feed your body exactly what it wants and avoid the dread binge. I found once I was more in tune to my body I could take advantage of the times I wasn’t craving anything and battle through the days where I felt like devouring the entire kitchen. Below are some easy steps to start you on that process.
- Know why do you eat the foods you do. Is it because you love the staples in your diet or do you just eat them because you always have? Do you actively seek out these foods or do you eat them because they are sitting there? If you eat less nutritious foods because they are simply sitting in your cupboard and not because you actually feel like them then you can simply remove these foods from your house and not eat them. If you feel like these foods go and buy a small portion and eat it, either alone or sharing this delicious time with a friend or loved one.
- Know how many meals and snacks you require each day to keep you satisfied. This is different for every person and there is no magic number that is healthier than the other. For me I am a three meals a day kinda gal, with usually a small to moderate breakfast, with a moderate lunch and dinner. I usually require a small snack at 4pm of veggies (I literally eat a capsicum like an apple, try it before you knock it), if I have training directly after work this snack becomes more substantial like a couple of rice cakes with PB.
- Know when your food cravings are likely to occur. There are times when your body tells you you need extra food i.e. when you are stressed, you have a new training schedule or it’s that time of the month. At these times it’s important to ascertain what foods to fuel your body with. Try to take control of this by choosing fresh, wholesome food options in the first intense. If after you have eaten a nutritious meal/snack and still feel like something less nutritious, opt to eat it in a moment where you can relax and savour the food rather than inhale it without a moments break to enjoy the food you are eating. For me, I can get extra hungry when I start new training schedules, this is my body telling me I need food for my body to build/repair itself. At these times you should be looking to slightly increase your intake of high fibre or low GI carbohydrate and lean protein sources at main meals. This will help provide the nutrients your bodies needs for training adaptation. If you are still hungry, try adding more nutrient dense, non-starchy vegetables as there may be a nutrient in particular you body needs for functioning that you are currently missing out on. Eating a variety of coloured vegetables will help reach all your nutrient needs.
- Your body will continue to change, so keep up. I find depending on what my schedules are like, what time of year it is and my overall mental state can all affect the foods I crave and eat. This point connects to the above point about recognising times your food cravings occur, but also knowing that this might change. I always feel in the week before my period that I crave less nutritious foods, but this isn’t always the case. By being in touch with what your body needs and why you are craving this food then you can adapt when these cravings change.
- Most of all, eat the food you love! If you feel like something, and genuinely want to eat it because you love it, then eat it. Savour, enjoy your portion and move on. No guilt, no shame and no labels (as per previous post) because food is meant to be enjoyed!
There are many key steps on the way to developing a healthy lifestyle but knowing exactly what your body wants and needs is an important part of reaching it. By recognising cravings, knowing how and what you like to eat, and what your body needs to feel great and perform at it’s best you can make small changes to your diet to help you reach your goals. Like life, your body is forever changing, so change with it and enjoy the learning process.
The next step in developing your healthy relationship with food is about being aware of triggers. This will go into a little bit more detail about times when you will crave more food, different foods and strategies for management. I hope you are enjoying this process.
Peace, Love and Food x