I’ve made it no secret that I keep a food log. I’ve been doing so for over a year now (since the barre n9ne 60-day challenge kicked off last May) and it’s been nothing short of eye-opening. Not just in terms of what I was doing before that was undermining my efforts to get healthier and more fit, but also in terms of what my body truly needs for fuel and how strongly addicted to “patterns” we all are.
And by “patterns” I mean eating out of habit or scheduled “feeding time” versus eating when your body tells you “I’m hungry.”
…eating out of hunger vs. habit.
So that’s what I’m here to talk about today. Not rehashing the whole “why I log” thing or what I’ve learned from it (I’m thinking I’ll cover that in a future “why I log: revisited” style post in the near future), but what I’ve been noticing lately about my journey towards mindful, intuitive eating. And patterns.
For me, what’s been so cool lately is to see my body naturally telling me more and more clearly just what it needs, when it needs it, instead of blindly eating just because it’s my normal “lunchtime” or “snack time” or whatever. And even if I am eating during a ‘planned’ feeding time, what I’m eating is changing.
For instance — I used to be very, very tied to a specific idea for what my PM snack should look like, how many calories it should have and when I should be eating it. Typically, my PM snack time would fall between 3-4pm and would usually be a greek yogurt or something equivalent to about 150-175 calories. And I’d eat it regardless of how hungry I was. I’m finding that lately I’m really questioning myself first before I eat. “Am I hungry? How hungry am I? Do I need more of a snack, less of a snack today?”
I’m basically measuring my hunger by what my body tells me, ignoring previous patterns or habits. <–a huge mindset shift for me
So sometimes my PM snack becomes an iced coffee and a Healthy Bite (courtesy of this girl, who rocks – like whoa), on a day where my lunch was more filling than other days. Or I’m honestly just less hungry than I was the previous day at snack time for whatever reason.
And other times, my snack becomes more substantial — a Chobani yogurt, or cottage cheese with fresh fruit and chia, or an apple with peanut butter.
I’m now eating out of hunger, not out of habit — or worse, out of a need to mindlessly munch (my biggest pitfall before).
Another example. Lately, lunchtime has been my “hungry horrors” time of day. For those of you who follow me on twitter, you’ve seen a lot of #isitlunchtimeyet hashtags from me. 😉 Since that time of day has been my super-hungry time lately, I’m naturally gravitating towards really fueling, energizing lunchtime choices. Which lately have involved lots of wraps — I’m on a huge wrap-with-lots-of-protein-and-other-yummies kick with a side of fresh fruit or veggies.
(my lunch last Friday — a Flatout wrap with tuna made with greek yogurt, chopped cucumber and pickles and a side of mini sweet peppers)
And I’ve been noticing just how filling that option has been for me — when in the past, I would’ve been ready for a snack a couple of hours later, I’m now finding that my lunch has been filling me up really fast and sticking with me for a long, long time.
I’d like to think this is my body telling me how happy it is with the amount (and type) of calories its getting from me on a regular, very consistent basis now.
And now that I’m jotting all of these learnings down here, I’m starting to think that I might finally be at that point where I can call myself an intuitive eater. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get to — the point where I’m learning to eat what I want, when my body needs it, not just when I happen to want to munch – regardless of hunger.
(and it couldn’t come at a better time when I’m diving into marathon training and will *really* need to tune into my body’s fueling cues in a smart, mindful way – vs. allowing myself to fall into the trap of “well I ran 12 miles, I can eat all day if I want to, even if I’m not hungry.” Been there, done that, not doing it again.)
Seeing my body respond the way it has lately has been really, really cool — and to see me listening to my body in that way is a new experience for me (new as in a year long journey), and one that I’m really proud to share with you here. Not just because it’s been a long road to this mindful place, but because it’s something I’d urge you to really think about. Are you eating out of hunger? A pattern? A habit? Nothing at all (i.e. mindless)?