Consuming food on the run is a skill I have mastered. Never one to sit for long, fitting eating around other priorities is a pattern “perfected” while in medical residency when the choice was to consume a granola bar while fast-walking or lose my chance to eat at all. Intuitive eating was definitely not a concept I considered. This pattern of mindless food consumption is a recipe for trouble, yet many of us fall into it to accommodate the daily, frantic lives we lead. Without mindful eating, we aren’t in-tune with our body enough to provide it with the nourishment it needs and wants. In a world that is too focused on the numbers on the scale rather than overall health, this disconnect from the body can pave the way for extreme dieting, eating disorders, and body shaming.
Mindful and intuitive eating are often overlooked as important pieces in the quest for health. They help rebuild the foundation that has been cracked from years of neglect. Weight-loss strategies often propagate the harmful idea that body health is simply a matter of willpower and control and miss the issues that prevent real change. There is nothing simple about weight loss or body health, and many people struggle because they don’t have the proper tools.
Tools to improve your overall health
Have you attempted every diet known, are painfully aware of what foods are “healthy”, yet still feel you are fighting a battle you can’t win? This series is written for you. In these articles, Dr. Lynn Stiff and Dr. Melissa Welby will give you tools to improve your overall health: both for your body and your mind.
I am grateful to Dr. Lynn Stiff for sharing her expertise and wisdom to help produce this series. As BOTH a dietician and physician, she is a true expert on nutrition and health. Her goal is to help people shift their focus away from weight, empowering them to make changes that support how they want to feel … regardless of the number on the scale.
With the proper strategies you can:
- Stop being ruled by the numbers on the scale.
- Reconnect with your body.
- Learn how to eat mindfully and intuitively.
- Be empowered to make changes that support how you want to feel.
- Free yourself from the dead-end trap of body-shaming.
- No longer determine self-worth by your weight.
Take Back the Meal
by Lynn Stiff, MD, RD, MS
It’s 1:00 in the afternoon and I haven’t eaten since 6 AM. I’ve been running around all day. Waves of hunger have come and gone and I’ve been too busy to stop. Finally, I have a break and realize how famished I am. I grab my lunch and sit down in front of a computer mindlessly inhaling my food while I do other tasks at the same time.
At the moment, I am numb, stressed, emotionally drained, and overworked. The hustle is real and exhausting.
Instead of eating a peaceful lunch at a table, I shovel my lunch into my mouth between clicks. I don’t enjoy the food and I barely accomplish anything on the computer. I shrug off this ineffective multitasking and am grateful to not have to eat again for a few hours. Now I can get my work done and maybe get home at a reasonable time.
But what is the cost to this harried, mindless eating?
Old habits die hard
Instead of celebrating food as the nourishment that allows our bodies and minds to take on the challenges of the day, eating is often thought of as a task that has to be checked off the list and done in the fastest way possible. To keep up with our busy schedules, we eat what is necessary so we have the stamina to complete the next task (whether that food is nutritious is a whole different discussion). We don’t take the time to experience the food we’re eating and although we may long for a nice quiet meal, we don’t make it happen.
The stress of life bubbles up and old habits take hold again.
When people talk about healthy eating, the focus is usually on consuming whole foods and eating a moderate amount. But where are we addressing the deeper issues? The numbing and lack of presence with our food and bodies.
After 15 years of working in healthcare, first as a dietitian and then as a physician with a special interest in weight management, I’ve come to realize that there isn’t any diet that will fix our problem.
Mindful and intuitive eating: the missing pieces to end the body-shaming struggle and shift the focus to health (not weight).
Intuitive and mindful eating can transform the way you see food and your body!
It’s true, it can. When you begin to eat mindfully, you re-establish hunger and satiety cues that will guide your body in what it needs. You begin to enjoy the food you are consuming.
Many people are skeptical when I suggest that this is the missing piece of the puzzle. They have already attempted every diet, are painfully aware of what foods are “healthy” and which aren’t, yet they still feel they are fighting a battle they can’t win. And I come along and suggest this simple (yet very challenging) solution? It sounds almost laughable. They want to know: “Are you sure I don’t also need to eat a liquid diet at the same time?”
Their struggles with weight, body shaming, and self-loathing have continued because their approach to dealing with it is a set-up for failure. There may be a time and place for liquid diets and intermittent fasting, but what really needs to happen is a reconnection with their body. This can happen by learning intuitive and mindful eating.
Changing your approach to eating matters.
Are you ready to learn how to break the unhelpful patterns of yo-yo dieting, shame, and disconnection?
Follow along with this series of articles aimed at giving people healthy tools to improve their overall health!
Craving Food and late-night snacking: How to Counter Mindless Eating
Lynn Stiff, MD, RD, MS is a board-certified family medicine physician, registered dietitian, and the founder of Nutrition Health Life, LLC. Through her years of practice, she has come to realize that nutrition is not just “calories in equal calories out” and that many simplistic weight-loss strategies cause more harm than good. She is passionate about helping women reject diet culture and focus on their value without regard to the numbers on the scale. She helps women learn to love themselves in their own skin and reframe how they see food, exercise, and the world in which they live.