Going from summer to autumn means shorter days, cooler weather and for some of us, an increase in appetite. Some researchers believe this is due to primitive impulses prompting us to seek out food and stockpile for winter.
For some people, this can lead to a desire to restrict what they’re eating or start another diet to keep their weight under control. Here we want to explore an intuitive eating principle in more depth, and how you can learn to use it during the seasonal shift.
Honouring your hunger
According to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating, honouring your hunger is one of 10 intuitive eating principles.
“Honor your hunger: Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust with yourself and food.”
A simple thought perhaps, to eat when you’re hungry, but one many struggle with. If you’ve spent a long time living with a diet mentality, you may have become quite adept at ignoring your hunger cues.
The problem with this is, when we ignore our hunger cues, we allow ourselves to get into such a state that all we can think about is food. This in turn can lead to overeating, often followed promptly by guilt and shame.
As Tribole and Resch say, listening to our body allows us to rebuild a sense of trust between ourselves and food, which is key for building a healthy relationship.
How to honour your hunger
- Raise your awareness: The first step is really tuning in to yourself, both physically and emotionally. Check in with yourself often, on a scale of one to 10, how hungry are you?
- Identify your hunger cues: These could be an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach, headaches, difficulty concentrating or growling noises.
- Satisfy your hunger: Consider what it is you really want to eat, is it something fresh and juicy like a piece of fruit or do you want something savoury?
- Don’t forget about emotional hunger: Intuitive eating recognises that in order to be fully satisfied, we need to account for emotional hunger too. There is room for this within the intuitive eating method.
The difference between impulsive eating (eating what you want when you want) and intuitive eating, is being attuned to your body’s hunger signals, both physical and emotional (or in Tribole’s words, “Intuitive Eating is eating whatever you want… with attunement”).
Once you become more aware of both types of hunger and honour both, you will realise that you can eat anything whenever you want, and therefore won’t feel the sense of lack that so often drives us to overeating.