The ideas in this book definitely support an eat-when-hungry, stop-when-satisfied approach to life. There is also a lot of information on learning how to sense what it is your body needs i.e. how to choose the right food each time you eat. To me, this is quite an advanced step not to be taken until the overeating itself ceases or really slows down but it is essential.
A really positive first step in overcoming the compulsion to overeat, is to start eating only exactly what you are craving and do not settle for something else. And then, while eating, really pay attention to how it tastes and feels as you're eating it.
Is it as pleasurable as you've been telling yourself all these years? Do you actually really taste your food?
Do this again and again, day after day, keeping your attention acutely on what you are craving and when you are eating it, and gradually some favourite"forbidden" foods reveal themselves to be what they really are: crap.
But don't rush it. If you don't let your natural cues take over at their own pace, you'll end up on a diet of sorts where you're constantly second-guessing your hunger and cravings.
What I've learned over the years is that not only does the body only want and need various amounts and varieties of food, but it clearly has ways of telling us what it is it needs if we listen.
I believe there is a true connection between healthy foods and our bodily needs. This contradicts what some anti-diet books say, but I only have my own experience to go by. I know when I'm really paying attention to food and the process of eating and how I feel after I've eaten, that pure, healthy foods leave me feeling much better and energetic than chemical-filled processed ones. And to me, this what really got me trusting intuitive eating: knowing that my body could lead me to good health, not clogged arteries and a premature death.
In terms of body hunger (i.e. when your body is truly needing fuel), author Jill Podjasek mentions both stomach hunger and nutrient hunger.
Jill Podjasek's view is that eventually we need to learn to choose our foods really carefully to make sure what we eat provides the nutrients are body is asking for (or cravings continue on a full stomach). Do you get that? Our bodies send out signals to us when they detect we are deficient in a particular nutrient and the brain interprets that in the form of thinking of potential food choices that contain that nutrient. It's an amazing system--if we listen to it.
But that all comes later on down the road. If you are a chronic overeater, first you've got to find a way to shut off the compulsion and calm things down. To start paying attention to hunger cues and food cravings and use the way your body feels before, during, and after eating to control what you put into it.
For years I just overate without thinking at all about my stomach size and body needs. Then, it took me many months of "conscious overeating" before that seemed to slow down and then stop. I don't think it works if you try to rush this step because then it becomes a diet, and diets are the most certain way to gain weight in the long run.
As ridiculous as it sounds, consciously overeating is a really crucial and valuable step (as opposed to continuing to overeat without paying any attention to how your body is feeling). Remember, your body is designed to tell you what it truly needs when, and how much. Overeating can only occur when we've learned to blot out all those helpful natural body signals. Overcoming overeating means relearning and respecting the signals and that can start with simply paying attention to the eating process while we are eating.
Here's some useful passages from the book:
Remember, no guilt! Absolutely every eating experience is a learning experience. Instead of feeling guilty about haven eaten ice cream to comfort yourself, know that you were taking care of yourself the best way you knew how. You are gathering up learning experiences that will assist you in making healthy changes.
An important part of becoming naturally slim is developing trust in your own body. Doing this will require an investment of time and attention. However, it will be one of the best investments you have ever made. When you are able to trust your body, you can wake up in the morning and decide if you are hungry, if you want a large or a small breakfast, if you want to eat only half of what you prepared, or if you are still hungry and need a second serving. No food plans, no menus--- it all sounds so natural, doesn’t it?
How can I trust my body? You might ask. Look at the size of it. I eat so very little and yet I stay so very big. There must be something wrong with me.
Please understand that being overweight and needing very few calories to stay that way doesn not mean your body has betrayed you. Your body has done very reliably what it is designed to do. It has taken calories you have eaten in excess of the calories you have burned and stored them as fat. It has also stored fat and reduced your metabolic rate in response to being starved.
Dieting is starvation to your body. Your body is being given so little food to sustain its functions that it must digest some of itself—important lean body mass like muscle tissue as well as fat…..them more muscle loss there is, the less ability you have to burn calories and the easier it is to become fat. The more frequently and severely you have dieted, the greater your weight gain and the more time it will take to return to your pre-dieting leanness and metabolism.
Eating potato chips when you are not hungry is filling some sort of physiological or psychological need. You must determine what those needs are and meet them in some other way before you let go of the chips. If you do not, you may end up substituting one habit for another…..
I would add to that, that following an externally imposed diet is just another way of overriding all of your body's natural hunger cues. How can someone else possibly know what nutrients you are needing and which quantities and when? They can't. Instead, it's up to you to start really paying attention to how your body communicates with you and providing what it needs.
I hope this encourages some of you who are just starting out on this new approach. Every step is truly a learning experience that will bring you closer to the freedom you deserve.