Your Relationship With Food: Do You Trust Your Body?
In Part 1 we discussed how our body interprets signals from our brain in terms of pain signals, pain management and how to understand them. Now lets refocus on how our brain shapes our relationship with food!
Food For Thought
Physical pain and injury are not the only things we need to learn to listen to. Our body sends us cues about our fullness and hunger that we sometimes ignore, to our detriment. Leptin is the hormone that alerts our body to being full or satiated and ghrelin lets us know when we are hungry. Our sensitivity to these hormones has a direct relationship to weight gain and weight loss. Eating out of boredom, emotional eating and mindless snacking dulls our sensitivity to ghrelin as we no longer allow our body to consume the food we have given it, use it and then ask for more, instead we provide it with a steady stream of food, inhibiting our ability to recognise true hunger from boredom or emotion.
The same goes for leptin. Without mindful eating, taking time and leaving gaps between meals and snacks we become less in-tune with our true fullness signals. Eating quickly leaves us feeling less satiated as we don’t give our body time to recognise it has been fed and signal to our brain we are full. Conversely eating to an uncomfortable level warps our bodies ability to identify true fullness, as the boundary to what we identify as ‘full’ is increased. Some foods can cause sharp spikes in leptin which if repeated every day or every meal can also reduce our sensitivity to leptin. If we consistently consume high amounts of simple carbohydrates (higher sugar, lower fibre) we elicit sharp spikes in leptin production and if this pattern is repeated our body becomes less responsive to the leptin produced, effectively ignoring it as it is there so often and in such high amounts leading us to eat more.
To Track or Not To Track
The most effective way to become intune to what you are eating on a daily basis is to track your food consumption. We recommend using My Fitness Pal but there are plenty of apps out there! Tracking is only useful and enjoyable to some people, however it IS educational for everyone. Accurately tracking your daily intake educates you on your calorie consumption and the ratio of carbohydrates, fat and protein you consume and how it makes you feel. It is also important to understand that tracking calories restrictively is not the only way to elicit weight loss.
Say you are having a day where you feel completely flat and drained, track your food intake and perhaps you will see that you consumed very few carbohydrates that day and therefore weren’t fueling your body. Maybe you are pulling up incredibly sore from the gym and recovery is never getting quicker, you track your food and see that you are under-eating on your protein, making it harder for your muscles to repair themselves.
While the numbers may seem daunting the facts behind them are empowering.
Tracking macros and calories also provides structure and rigidity that some people thrive with. Combined with meal prepping, it allows your mind to be freed from thoughts surrounding food. Once you have educated yourself around calories and macros, identify whether you need the structure or whether you thrive off flexibility.
Consider whether tracking will give you a handle on your eating or bring up dormant habits such as obsessive food focus. Perhaps pre-planning your meals and snacks finally lets you see the change in your body you have wanted, or maybe seeing an exact list of all the things you get to eat that day builds up ‘fear foods’, foods you consider as bad because of the calories or macros. Regardless of where you end up, you should always start by tracking to teach yourself about your body and mind.
The Wrap Up
We need to appreciate that our body knows what it wants and has the power to tell us. By listening to the cues we receive we become healthier and happier and take proper care of ourselves. While pushing through and ploughing on is an honourable mentality in some cases, in regards to listening to our bodies, it is damaging. Respect the incredible power that our body-brain connection is and learn to listen to it. Finally, we should not only be living to lose weight, but live for things external to physical appearance. Live to love, learn and most importantly…LIFT!
Did you read Part 1: Do you trust your body? Check it out!
Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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