Sunday, 9 January 2011

Knowing when to stop

Whilst enjoying my day off from bootcamp (exercise at least) I enjoyed reading through Sophie Dahl’s new cookbook, which is full of some surprisingly healthy and tasty looking seasonal recipes. Inbetween the recipes Sophie gives a candid account of her issues with food and weight fluctuations over the years and how she has found a healthy relationship with food.

One anecdote she includes is about how she tried a raw food diet but despite eating only raw healthy foods gained weight simply by over-eating. Now I’m totally against counting calories but even if you’re following my super-healthy bootcamp diet, if you’re eating more calories than you’re burning, you’ll still gain weight. So how much should you eat?

My problem with the calorie as a tool to decide how much to eat is that everyone’s metabolisms are running at different rates so it isn’t possible just from your weight and height to work out how many calories you are burning, and therefore should be eating. There are rough guidelines but it is so hard to be accurate that it’s very likely that you will either under-eat (at which point your body will slow your metabolism down further) or over-eat and either not lose weight or even gain weight.

But fear not – your body has it’s own way of regulating how much food you need and it’s called your appetite!! The great thing about your appetite is that it adjusts according to how active you’re being and how fast your metabolism is running, so if you listen to it you won’t over-eat.

The problem is a lot of us don’t listen to it and either start eating when we’re not hungry or don’t stop when we’re full. If you want to lose weight you should never start eating when you’re not hungry and you should stop when you feel satisfied, but before you feel stuffed or bloated.

To allow your appetite control to work properly you need to eat slowly without distraction (don’t read, watch TV or listen to music). Chew each mouthful thoroughly (15 times+) and put your cutlery down whilst you chew. Pause a few times during the meal to assess how you feel. If you feel hungry or neutral keep eating. When you feel satisfied or slightly full then stop – don’t keep eating until you feel very full or stuffed. If you eat like this you’ll be surprised at how soon you stop.

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