Last time on the blog, we talked about what it means to have joy with food, in light of our culture's messages to us on WHAT we SHOULD eat, how MUCH, and WHEN. But we introduced the idea about how it might be possible that the body can be trusted to discern all of that on its own. I promised to give some examples from my own life on how it looks to listen to the body on what it wants and needs.

A typical day for me starts at 5:30 or 6 am, when I roll out of bed to meet clients from 7 to about 9 am. I'm a morning eater (note I did not say morning PERSON, ha ha!) ... meaning I'm really hungry in the mornings from when I wake up until about 11, and then my hunger tapers off some. My usual pre-client breakfast is a big blueberry/banana/PB smoothie, or cereal with granola and a banana, or some eggs if I'm feeling like something salty and savory. But normally, I like sweet things in the morning and I don't really crave protein. I'm not a big fruit-for-breakfast person, except for bananas, or if the fruit is whizzed up in the smoothie. I don't know. Maybe it's because fruit's cold, maybe it's too sour... but it just doesn't sound good to me when I first wake up. I usually fill my huge (and I mean YUUUUGE) Yeti Cup with decaf coffee that I take on the road. I don't do caffeine because it makes me nervy.

When I finish with morning clients, if it's summer, I'm off to teach swim lessons until late morning, and in between I grab some nut/granola bars, water, dried fruit, string cheese, boiled eggs, nuts, as I'm hungry and as I have time. When I'm done with morning lessons, I'm usually really hungry for something salty, like grilled chicken, nuts, egg salad, or salad with honey mustard dressing. I'm not really hungry for bread or pasta much, and I think I don't crave it because I don't digest bread very well, but also because my body gets most of its carbs from fruit which I do really like. If it's winter, I eat the same way, just not as much volume since my hunger isn't as strong from typing at the computer as it is with being in the pool.

Because of my bigger brunch at 10:30 or 11, I'm not usually hungry until around 2. Then, I usually am hungry for more protein, like ham or turkey, or some cottage cheese. Around now I start wanting vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and celery with peanut butter or Ranch (but not PB and Ranch together...eewww!). More handfuls of nuts. 

Most days, I'm teaching in the afternoons and evenings, so I usually get done around 7 or 8, which is later than most folks get off of work since I'm available for lessons after they finish work. After then, I'm hungry for a good meal - we tend to eat soups with rice, and various veggies with various meats. I usually want a plate with some kind of big protein and 2 veggie sides for the hubs since he's a traditional (read: Southern) eater. Sometimes we make cheese grits. We hardly ever have dessert, but not because we shouldn't but because we are usually no longer hungry after eating our dinner. 

I guess I tend to eat every 2-4 hours, but I don't really count - that's just when I can feel my blood sugar dropping and I get hungry. I never eat when I'm not hungry. On top of not sounding good, food when I don't need it gives me heartburn. I always eat in hunger Phase 2, which is as below: 

Phase 1) Hmm, I'm feeling a bit peckish. What do I want? I don't know what. Something. 
Phase 2) I'm hungry and I know what I want. That looks good. 
Phase 3) My stomach is growling and I'm starving! I don't care what it is, give it to me NOW! 

I think that it's important to eat in Phase 2 because THAT is when you can hear what your body wants. I don't look in the fridge to find out. I just think, WHAT DO I WANT? And then I go get it or the closest thing I can get to that thing. 

Here's the rub: I never tell myself that I can't have something or that something is bad for me. If I want something that's not nutritionally optimal, I remember that I'm not eating exclusively THAT all of the time, and I think it's much more OVERALL healthy to eat something that's a nutritional zero than to be mentally unhealthy by holding myself to an unrealistic, untenable, and un-fun eating standard, strategy, or range of foods, whole or not.

So there you have it!
1) I eat in Phase 2, which is always when hungry, not when not.
2) When eating, I stop when I am no longer hungry, not when I am full. Usually this is at the first moment when I sigh, ahhhh I feel better.
3) I don't think about what I "should" eat, I don't eat a specific diet or cut out food types or groups. I eat what I want to eat.
4) My weight stays slim, stable, and my hunger fluctuates according to my activity level.

Hope these examples helped you visualize what it means to me to eat by listening to my body. Next time, we'll explore what it means to stop eating when no longer hungry... what it means to "delay, not deny."