We’re born with the capability to recognize when we’ve eaten enough. My 8-month-old can do it. When she’s hungry, she eats. When she’s full, she purses her little lips and turns her head in every direction she can to evade my spoon. She practically climbs out of her high chair to avoid taking one bite beyond what her body is telling her it wants. She knows when she is full with no training, no self-help books, and no health coach to tell her.
Yet, as we grow older, we often turn off this God-given capability. We think we’re smarter than our body, and so we over-ride our body’s signals with new signals from our brains. Here’s the issue. These brain signals aren’t always helpful. They’re the ones that say “Oooh. Yes! Dessert! I absolutely must have that dessert” 90 seconds after we’ve finished a full meal. These brain signals are the ones that urge us to finish the restaurant meal because we paid for it or to accept the snack offered by our host in order to be gracious. They beg for popcorn at the movies because we smell it and M&Ms in the checkout line because we see them and ice cream at the beach because we’re hot. Our brains are making us fat.
To break this cycle, we need to remove our brains from power and put our bodies back in charge. Our bodies understand satiety. They understand when we are truly hungry and when we’ve had enough. Our bodies don’t worry about what we smell or what we see or what we’ve paid for…and when it comes to our health, neither should we.
Learning to listen to your body feels like coming home to yourself. Somewhere in the recesses of your brain you remember what it was like when your body was in charge. You can remember how you felt good ALL the time because you were never starving but never stuffed either. You can feel that way again.
Put your body back in charge. Let your belly (and only your belly) decide when it’s time to eat and when it’s time to stop. It will take some time in trial and error to fully over-ride the strong signals coming from your brain. But when you do, you’ll be just like my baby, pursing your lips and pushing away your spoon when your belly tells you it’s full as if it were child’s play. No training, self help book or health coach required.