One concept that I developed while working with clients is having a 3 pillar approach around nutrition.
1) What We Eat
2) Why We Eat (which dictates When)
3) How We Eat
All 3 are equally important.
Today I want to talk about one specific facet of why we eat.
More specifically, how do we know when to put the fork down and stop eating?
We have all been drilled into thinking certain ways about nutrition. From gurus, friends, "experts" and bloggers. Everyone has their own philosophies regarding food (yes, even me).
And there is nothing wrong with that.... As long as what you are doing is working.
When it comes to why/when we eat, there are multiple schools of thought. Here are the basic two that I am sure you have heard before.
Eat smaller more frequent meals throughout your day to keep your metabolism running high (in order to burn more fat, is the rationale)
Eat larger less frequent meals throughout your day, since this is how your ancestors ate and they were healthier than we are today as a society (or were they?)
Now, there is nothing wrong with these schools of thought, they actually work for well depending on the person.
But that's the thing, depending on the person.
No two people are exactly alike.
We all have our own unique physiology, psychology and personal preferences.
By believing external advice alone (like the 2 ideas above) we deny our self the ability to truly figure out what works for us.
External advice would be what other people believe.
"You should eat 6 meals a day"
"You should eat 3 large meals a day"
"You should always eat breakfast"
"You should eat based on your body type"
"You can eat whatever you want as long as you fit it in this specific window each day"
...and the list goes on.
Internal advice shifts the focus from something external (what other people say) to something internal (what your body says).
i.e physical signs and cues given off by the body.
Hunger cues, rumbles from the stomach and energy levels are the main signs given off by the body around eating.
Becoming aware of these cues and honoring them can allow our body to release unneeded and unwanted body fat, which is what most of us want.
So what about when to stop eating?
Were you ever directly taught internal advice as a kid on when to stop eating?
No, not really.
It was always stop eating when you finish everything on your plate for most.
Which is a form of external advice (something that your mom told you to do at the dinner table).
One great guideline to try would be to consciously stop eating when you are 80 percent full.
What does this mean?
80 percent full feels like you are light and not weighed down by the food in your gut, like you still have energy to operate even after you leave the dinner table and you may even feel like you could eat one or two more bites.
Now, will you end up eating 6 small meals a day if you do this? Maybe.
How about 3 large meals a day? Maybe.
Will you end up eating every 3 hours? Maybe.
But if you have a great relationship with your body and are seeing results, who cares?
Learning and then choosing to honor internal advice will allow you to not only cut through the overwhelm with nutrition but also form a good relationship with your body that produces results.