Welcome to sanity!!!
Phase 2: Feel the hunger! Feel the fullness!
You’ve totally nailed Phase 1, and your brain now knows that you don’t have to eat every morsel of food you ever see because you aren’t ***literally*** starving to death.
I hope you’re feeling happy and hopeful and free. You don’t have to count anything anymore! No strategizing or scheduling or shaming; just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Everything else can fall into place from here.
Now that you’ve cleared the sizable hurdle of brain chemistry, you can work your way through the mental and emotional residue built up over years of dieting and wishing your body would be different. It’s also time to start introducing good, whole foods into your daily life, not because you “should,” but because you want to.
Here’s what to do next:
- Choose natural whenever you can: Why does it matter to eat natural foods? I think the human body is best equipped to recognize fullness when it can identify the ingredients. Remember that we’re just mammals who evolve very very slowly, and there’s no way our bodies know how to respond to modern creations like aspartame or Splenda. Artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners are at the top of my list of things to avoid whenever I can.
- Learn to cook, even just a little: The best way to keep your life full of whole foods is to cook them yourself. Unlike prepared foods from a grocery or restaurant, you get to choose what ingredients go in it, like sugar, salt, and preservatives. For many people, this may feel like an uphill battle (I mean, I was well into my mid-20s before I learned how to scramble an egg…how the hell?), but with a little patience and some super-simple recipes, you’ll feel your kitchen confidence grow more than you ever imagined.
- Listen to your body: Now that the hunger chemicals in your brain aren’t making so much noise, you can really listen to your body. What times of day do you tend to be hungriest? What foods make you feel full in a good way? What foods make you feel full in a bad way? Etc etc etc?
- Accept yourself: I will never have long skinny legs or the J. Crew body I always dreamed of. Even though my mom did, which is just so unfair! Too bad. I wasn’t born with that body type, and nothing is ever going to change that. I am short with hips and thighs and my waistline comes and goes, but my body is healthy and strong, and that’s about as lucky as you can get in life.
- Change your perspective: Lose the dieting mentality and you’ll gain a better perspective on what this is all about: long-term, sustainable healthy living that benefits the body, mind, and soul. Don’t work out to burn calories; do it to strengthen your heart and lungs. Don’t make food choices based on what will make you fat or skinny; pay attention to your body’s cues and try to listen. Don’t banish gluten from your life because you can’t “control” yourself around bread; do it if it makes your stomach hurt or your brain feel foggy.
Above all, eat for satiation and satisfaction. For purpose and pleasure. There’s room for both in this beautiful life.