September 2008

Natural Eating

Michelle Morand MA, RCC. Cedric Centre for Counselling

Today Iím writing to offer you some simple tools for overcoming your stressful relationship with food and body image. The process of recovery is quite simple. There are a handful of steps that allow you to safely put one foot in front of the other and walk from the distressing diet mentality to the freedom of natural eating. Natural eating simply means eating when youíre hungry and stopping when youíre full.

The first step on the path to make the change from the diet mentality to natural eating is to allow yourself for one day to just stop what youíre doing and ask yourself 3 or 4 times a day (especially before you eat anything): ďAm I physically hungry right now?Ē

There are key 4 ways to answer that question. 

1. No so I wonít have anything.

2. Yes, but Iím not going to allow myself to have anything.

3. No, but Iím having something any way.

4. I donít know.

1. Number one takes care of itself, itís a non issue. Letís take a quick look at 2, 3 & 4.

2. If the answer is ďYes, but Iím not going to let myself eat.Ē  Stop and ask yourself why? Your body is sending you a clear signal that, regardless of when your brain things itís acceptable to be hungry, itís hungry now.  Does it make any sense whatsoever to argue with your body about that?  Your body is not out to get you.  It is simply letting you know what it needs in order to continue to meet the demands you are setting for it.

So if you are resisting eating when your body is telling you it needs food just ask yourself what you are telling yourself will happen if you honored the natural signals of hunger from your body?  Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if that story youíre telling yourself is true or just what you fear might happen. Thereís a big big difference. (For more information on this process see my blog article on All or Nothing Thinking @ ).

3. If the answer to the question ďAm I physically hungry right now?Ē is no but youíre wanting to eat anyway, youíre emotionally eating and there is an underlying need for physical or emotional security that you are seeking to meet in having that particular food at that time. 

4. If the answer is ďI canít tell if Iím truly hungry or not.Ē Youíre not.

Encourage yourself to wait until youíre certain that you are physically hungry. There is no uncertainty about that. Youíll feel empty physically; youíll have a growly tummy; if youíve left it quite a long time before eating youíll likely also feel cranky, tired and a bit shaky - a.k.a. hypoglycemia: low blood sugar.

It is important as you begin to experiment with inviting yourself to wait to eat until you truly feel phsyical hunger that you have with you at all times snacks that you enjoy and that you can eat as soon as you start to feel true physical hunger.

This exercise alone will reveal to you the true extent of your disordered relationship with food. It will show you immediately how often you use food to cope; how unconscious that pattern has become; and it will even reveal to you the relationships or situations that are likely to trigger you to feel unsafe or insecure.

This is incredibly powerful information to be able to gather in just one day. It sets the stage for you to safely and forever change your use of food to cope and to begin to have a life that is truly peaceful and completely free of food and body image issues.

Michelle Morand holds a Master of Arts degree in Counselling from Gonzaga University and is the director of The CEDRIC Centre where for 15 years she has supported men and women world wide to heal their stressful relationships with food and body image once and for all.