Listening to your body is incredibly helpful when it comes to developing simple, sustainable eating habits. By “listening to your body” I mean eating primarily when you’re hungry, eating slowly, and stopping when satisfied but not stuffed.
This is something I practice and recommend because it works.
But it doesn’t always work as well as it should.
During a recent Beautiful Badass consultation (currently only open to those subscribed to the Lift Like a Girl newsletter but will be made public in the near future) we had a conversation about the problem with the “listen to your body” suggestion. The wonderful lady I was chatting with had a past somewhat similar to mine in regards to food.
We both had habits of scrutinizing what we ate and viewed certain foods as “good” and others as “bad”. If we didn’t eat well we’d feel guilty and proclaim that we “screwed up” and just continued to make poor food choices for the rest of the day, or weekend. Unfortunately this mindset carried over to the “listen to your body” guideline as well.
Related article: Damage Control – What to do When You Over Indulge
Because of her past, listening to her body – eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied and not stuffed – was a welcomed change of pace that made things much easier and less stressful. But it wasn’t without its faults.
She stated that even though she made tremendous progress with ditching strict diet rules and opting instead for some sane and simple guidelines, she found herself still being critical. If she ate before she was hungry, she thought she messed up. If she ate beyond the point of satisfaction (i.e. being overly, even uncomfortably, full) she thought she failed.
This Isn’t All-or-Nothing
Listening to your body works, but at the same time you have to understand that this isn’t black and white, all-or-nothing. There will be days when you over eat. There will be days when you under eat. There will be times when you eat before you’re actually hungry.
You can’t expect perfection and to only eat when you’re hungry and to stop when you’re satisfied for every meal for the rest of your life. Because of this fact it makes no sense to expect perfection from ourselves, much less to get upset when don’t “follow the guidelines” exactly as suggested.
And when those times happen – eating before you’re hungry, eating beyond the point of satisfaction – you have to relax and realize it’s perfectly fine. It happens, and it will happen again at some point.
Related article: Screw Perfection
You did not fail. You did not screw up. You do not have to go back to the drawing board and come up with an entirely different plan.
You do need to accept the fact that sometimes you won’t follow the guidelines with absolute perfection. This is life, and stuff happens. Remember to focus on your habits over a long period of time. One meal or day of eating “perfect” or “terrible” is small potatoes in the scheme of a week, month, and year.
Look at the BIG Picture
Learn to look at the BIG picture. It’s not just how you eat today, or even the next few days. It’s about your overall lifestyle that encompasses weeks, months, and years.
Become okay and comfortable with the fact that some days you won’t eat like you wanted to. Some days you may over eat. Some days you may under eat. And some days you may feel like you ate “perfectly” and listened to your body without fail.
Be proud of the good days and shrug off the not-so-good days and get back on track.
Keep nutrition sane and simple and don’t strive for, or expect, perfection. This is about a lifestyle and not a single day or even week of eating well. It’s about doing the best things most of the time and not being critical of ourselves when we don’t fully comply to the guidelines.
Related article: The Diet That Has No Name (and Why It May be the Best Thing Ever)
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