Many clients ask me this question when they start intuitive eating. People generally worry that without restriction they will just start eating all the foods they tried to avoid and eventually gain weight. However, when we start honoring our hunger and listening to our inner cues, we regain the natural ability to self-regulate eating behavior.
Self-regulation is essential for survival. We are all born with the ability to know exactly what we need to eat. As infants, we cry to signal hunger and understand satiety by stopping the feeding when full. The ability to self-regulate slowly decreases with age and depending on how many outside influences we experience might diminish completely. It starts with our parent’s feeding practices that might not be in tune with the natural hunger and fullness signals, the urge to clean the plate, or social norms that we start learning as we grow older.
Dieting is one of those outside influences. It forces us to eat less than the body is asking for over a very long period of time. This is counter intuitive for our bodies which leads to compensatory behaviors such as chronic hunger or an inability to understand satiety signals. The body has a defense mechanism against starvation that is activated whenever we try to deprive it of energy. These mechanisms include lowering the metabolic rate, increasing the craving for calorie dense foods, or fatigue which reduces the motivation to stay active. In short, we might completely lose the ability to self-regulate eating when we try to control it.
Once we get back in tune with our bodies by listening to hunger and satiety cues, we might regain the ability to self-regulate. When we allow the body to feel safe by making sure to always deliver the energy it needs, the defense mechanisms are turned off. The chronic hunger, cravings, and fatigue will decrease as we learn to honor our hunger. Once the body knows that there is no starvation coming anytime soon, it will relax, increase the metabolic rate, and support all your daily activities. Simply, if you want your body to trust you, you need to trust it as well. As a team, you can achieve health with no restriction or anxiety.
This new trust is the foundation for eating the right amount for your body. Re-learning this doesn’t happen overnight, but the process is worth it! On the path to rediscovering your ability to self-regulate, you will probably experience some bumps in the road. Just know that this is normal! If you’re looking to get back in touch with the cues of your body, you can apply to my online 1-on-1 coaching mentorship today!