How To Break Free From Food Obsession | 7 Baby Steps To Eat Intuitively
In this blog, I tell you how I broke free from food obsession, and I give you 7 Baby Steps to help you learn to eat intuitively.
My History With Food Obsession
If you don’t already know my story, I’ll give you a brief summary. If you want the full story, you can find it here:
The Short Version:
I was a skinny girl growing up, but at around 16, I gained a lot of weight, I gained about 30 kilos over two years. For many years, I tried with different diets to lose weight, and I tried all the diets. The Master Cleanse, The Cabbage Soup Diet, I did meal replacement shakes, Atkins and Keto. I tried everything, but it was all unsustainable and nothing helped in the long run.
When I was 22, I found Bikini Fitness and actually found something that worked and helped me shape my body. I learned how to work out with weights, and how to build up my body instead of starving it. Before stepping on stage in 2012, I lost 20 kilos, but after my first competition, very quickly I gained it all back, and then I went back to competing again, lost all the weight, and then gained it all back, and I went back and forth like that for the three years that I did compete.
Between the competitions I would binge and overeat, and then I restrict very hard and go back and forth, and I remember even when I was “being good” and I was following my diet, I would still have a weekly cheat meal that I would always take too far. Because I was finally allowed to do something other than my chicken/broccoli/asparagus, and brown rice. I would just go crazy and not have just one meal, but it would be like one huge meal that I would overeat and feel so full, and then I would have dessert and then I would snack all the way up to going to bed. Waking up the next morning, I would be sore, the skin on my side would be sore from all the water that I was holding from those cheat meals. And I repeated this every single week.
It would take me days to kind of go back to my weight from before I did the cheat meal, and I would only have a few days to improve until I would do the same thing all over again. So I would have to restrict even more between the cheat meals, which made me go even crazier during my cheat meal. And it was just this vicious cycle of binging and restricting.
It’s safe to say that I actually did not have a very healthy relationship with food despite having so much knowledge and competing and being super fit, I was not in a very healthy place food wise.
In the spring of 2017, I finally had enough and I decided to stop any restrictions and just eat intuitively. It took me a good year or more to retrain myself to eat with my intuition. Relearn to eat when I was hungry and not eat when I was full. Now, I’m able to (most of the time) stop eating when I’m full, and only eat when I’m hungry, and not binge eat and overeat. And I can still add in my favorite treats here and there, without losing control.
When I made this decision to start eating intuitively, my goal was to have the freedom of being able to eat anything I want whenever I want to eat it, without it having any bad effects on my shape, and without the restrictions that come with being obsessed with food.
Learning To Eat Intuitively
I chose to relearn to eat intuitively by going ALL IN. For over a year, I had zero food restrictions. Initially, I would binge eat on my favorite foods, and I remember it was so hard for me to have a binge episode and eat more than I knew was good for me, and then the next day just continue eating whatever I felt like. Even if I felt like continuing eating the same food that I overate the day before. I would practice putting the food away from me, out of reach, after I felt like now, actually, I’m full, I’m satisfied. This is a sign I should stop eating. I can always come back and continue eating if I felt like it later on.
But just practicing that whole thing but without restricting or doing any excessive extra exercise. Without cutting all my carbs or anything like that. I would just continue eating whatever I felt like day after day. Even if I’d had a bad day the day before. That was really challenging.
And eventually it happened: My trigger foods stopped triggering me to overeat, and I could finally just eat one biscuit and then put the rest away. And have sweets in my house. Before this, I couldn’t have anything unhealthy in the house, because in a moment of weakness I would just find it and eat it.
I will say that I gained quite a lot of weight doing this, and it was a very challenging process. During that year of trying to get back intuitively eating. I did gain about 10 kilos, you have to be a very strong person to do that without having to try at some point to stop yourself and go back to your restrictive eating. I knew what I was doing, I knew it was going to work, and I knew I was in it for the long haul. For me, I was fine with gaining those 10 kilos, because I knew they would eventually come off again. However, I don’t necessarily recommend doing it the way I did it. Instead, I have 7 Baby Steps that I would recommend doing instead to start getting on the path to eating more intuitively.
After a while what happened for me was that suddenly, I started losing weight. My appetite was stabilized, and I continued to eat intuitively when I was hungry, not eat when I was full, and the weight after gaining the 10 kilos, the weight just started coming off again slowly, and I lost 9,5 kilos.
My body’s “set weight” before I started this was about 84 kilos, and now it’s at about 80 kilos, so my “set weight” dropped about four kilos, which I’m very, very happy with, but it was hard.
To get to the same place but in an easier way, I recommend following the 7 Baby Steps that I’ll give you now. Remember that these seven steps can help you deal with the habitual, and the physical parts of binge eating and restricting, but oftentimes these issues are caused by underlying issues and if you feel like your relationship with food isn’t great because of underlying issues, I recommend that you seek professional help instead of following these steps.
The 7 Baby Steps To Eat Intuitively
The seven baby steps, how to eat more intuitively and get rid of food obsession.
Baby Step #1
Stop eating when you’re full. This is the most important skill to practice when you’re eating intuitively you can eat whatever you want and whenever you want, but you cannot continue eating after your body is signaling that you have had enough, and you are full. You need to practice tuning into your body’s signals and actually feeling what your body is telling you while you’re eating.
Baby Step #2
Have no rules and take your time to establish your natural eating patterns. It took me months to tune into what my natural eating patterns and habits really are, now I don’t eat meat, I don’t eat red meat, and I don’t eat chicken or poultry. I only eat fish, vegetables, eggs, and dairy, which sits really well with me. And then I also eat most of the time, always eat my meals between 10:00 AM and 10:00 PM. Those 12 hours are when I eat, and then I sort of fast, I guess, for 12 hours. And there’s not a set hard-core rule that I cannot break if I feel like eating before 10:00, I will. I’m also usually not hungry before 10:00 AM, which is why I don’t eat before 10:00 AM. And then I get after 10:00 PM, I’ve learned that if I eat around that time I sleep really well, but if I start eating later then I can feel too full when I’m falling asleep, that’s for me, my cue to not do that.
And everybody’s different and you have to establish what your natural habits, what feels best when you do it.
Baby Step #3
Eat without distractions. Make sure that you consume your meals while you’re fully focused on eating. Don’t scroll through social media, don’t read a book or magazine. Don’t watch TV. Just have your focus on your plate, and on chewing and tasting your food. When your attention is somewhere else, it takes your attention away from your body’s signals and it makes you harder to realize when you’re full and when you should stop eating.
Baby Step #4
Look at and taste your food. Now that we’ve established that you don’t have your attention anywhere else while you’re eating, now we’re going to turn all our attention to the food. Don’t just shove the food in your mouth. Instead, look at your food, register the colors, register the textures, register how much room it’s taking up on your plate, and then start tasting your food. Again, what flavors, what textures. Everything when you’re chewing it, how does it feel. When you’re swallowing your food, how does it feel? How does it look on your plate when the food is disappearing and there’s less food on your plate. Make sure you pay attention to all these factors because there are all stimuli for your brain, and for your stomach to help you know when you’re full.
Using your senses while eating will help you feel fuller and more satisfied quicker.
Baby Step #5
Eat slowly. The slower you eat, the more time your stomach has to register that it’s full. It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to register that the stomach is full, and for your brain to signal to you to stop eating.
Let’s say you finish your meal in 10 minutes and you’ve emptied your plate in 10 minutes that’s a risk that you actually have eaten way more than your stomach needs to signal to your brain that it’s full, but the signals just haven’t gotten to your brain yet, and you haven’t been told to stop eating before you already swallowed all your food.
Instead, let’s say you were eating the same meal, but you’re eating it slowly, you would have taken 25 minutes to finish it, but as you get to the end of your meal, after 20 minutes you’ve actually registered that you’re full, and you’ve had enough and then you can stop eating, even before you finish the whole meal. You don’t have to finish the whole plate even though that’s what we’re told, but you don’t have to completely empty your plate.
And to help you with eating slower, I have three little tips:
- Put down your cutlery after every 4.-5. bite. Put it down, chew your food well before you pick it up, and continue eating.
- Breathe deeply when you’re eating. Take time in between bites to just breath all the way into your stomach, and be relaxed at the dinner table.
- Have a sip of water between your bites, so again, put down your cutlery, have some water after chewing just have a bit of water. It also helps fill out your stomach, and it will help you take a little break from just inhaling your food.
Baby Step #6
Place your food out of reach. I told you a little bit about this in the initial part of the video, but what I did is I would eat something and then when I started feeling that I was full, I would just place the food out of reach where I couldn’t just continue reaching out and eating it. And then I would wait for a few minutes and usually I would feel full, and I wouldn’t have any more desire to continue eating. And you can do the same thing. When you’re eating at the table, if you feel like you’re finished, if you feel like you’re full, you can just push the plate away from you, you can even do that at a restaurant, just push the plate away, and stop eating. And you can do that at home, of course, put the plate away from you on the table, put whatever you’re snacking on back in the cupboards in the kitchen, back in the fridge, just get it out of reach.
And you can always, always, always go back and continue eating later on if you actually feel hungry, but chances are that you don’t.
Baby Step #7
Listen to your body, only. Only by actually listening to your body, you’ll learn how to tune into your body’s signals and act accordingly. That is how you relearn to eat intuitively.
Thank you for reading this blog!
If you enjoyed the content you might also want to watch the video “How To Break Free From Food Obsession | 7 Baby Steps To Eat Intuitively”