Inspirational advice to rock your life with energy, passion, happiness and balance.

Louise Thompson: Overcoming emotional eating: intuitive eating

Your body will tell you when it's hungry and when it's not. Photo / Thinkstock
Your body will tell you when it's hungry and when it's not. Photo / Thinkstock

A central concept of yoga is that of practising mindfulness. Being aware of and present in the current moment. In the present we have all we need and all is well. This is typically brought about by connecting to our breath.

This concept of being mindful has been used in recent years to unlock the problem of persistent weight gain, emotional eating and overeating.

Read more: The latest health buzz: Attentive eating

The premise is this:

You do not need a food and exercise diary. You already have a very accurate food and exercise diary. A spookily accurate logbook of every time you move your body, and an itemisation of everything you put in your mouth. It's called "your body".

You do not need some detailed, weighed and measured meal-by-meal diet of what to eat and when. You don't need to weigh every ounce of skinless chicken breast or to know how much 25g of toasted walnuts looks like. You have this incredibly wise guide that is gauging incredibly subtly the exact amount you need to be eating, and when. It's called "your appetite".

It's about ending the "weight loss struggle" that women's magazines are so found of telling us about.

It's about stopping looking outside ourselves for external sources of wisdom on portion control and tuning into our inner guidance. Your body knows how to be at its best natural weight and health, if you listen to it really closely, it will guide you all the way there. No fuss. No struggle.

Listening to your body about food and exercise means listening to your body. Not your mind. It means not starving. Or bingeing. It means treating the body as you would a treasured pet.

Body says: "Mmmm . . . bit peckish actually . . . could do with a little snack. Something nutritious. A few almonds, maybe."

Mind says: "No. You are weak! You cannot be hungry. You must wait until lunchtime in three hours. Shut up!"

Body says: "Stuffed, honestly I am stuffed, stomach stretching to accommodate all this food, doesn't feel pleasant, please stop now."

Mind says: "This brunch is expensive. And what's more it's delicious! Yum yum yum! Must finish my plate. Don't want to waste it. Mmmm. Delish."

When we override our body's messages we will either undereat (which leads to the starving, then overeating cycle) or overeat. Both lead to the same outcome.

We have all the information we need with us, at all times, to be naturally at our natural body weight. All we have to do is listen to the body (quiet, subtle messages), and not let the mind (loud, shouty messages) override its instructions.

It's about being mindful and body aware. Not looking in the mirror body aware, internally body aware. Listening to the whispers of truth that are our appetite. Our built-in healthy weight management programme. It'd called intuitive weight loss. It works with your body, not against it. It takes practice. It's gentle. It's gradual. Let your body set the pace.

Here are some questions to help you use intuitive eating effectively:

1. Am I physically hungry right now? If so go ahead and eat.
2. Eat when you are physically hungry. Enjoy what you are eating. Eat slowly enough to taste it.
3. Stop when you are lightly satisfied. When you can feel your body saying "enough". That's before "full". Stop when your body says "enough, thank you". If you listen closely you can hear this moment. The bite that triggers the "enough, thank you" sensation. It comes at "lightly satisfied" not "full".
4. Savour each bite. If you slow down you will enjoy what you are eating much more. Fact.
5. If I am not physically hungry, what am I emotionally hungry for? What do I want to feel, or not continue feeling? Name those feelings. Use the techniques for emotional eating we have covered in the "overcoming emotional eating" weeks to meet those emotional needs without food.

Intuitive eating is about letting your body set the pace. Now isn't that relaxing? You have all the wisdom you need right there with you right now. We just need to get better at listening and trusting what it has to say.

Watch: Louise Thompson has made a series of videos to help enhance your life. Check out the fourth one - How to take a compliment:


Louise is a life coach, author and corporate escapee. Visit for more.

- NZ Herald

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Inspirational advice to rock your life with energy, passion, happiness and balance.

Louise is a corporate escapee turned wellbeing pro. After 17 successful years on the commercial side of media a serious health crisis led to a complete lifestyle overhaul and a brand new direction. As a life coach, and the first Martha Beck accredited coach in New Zealand, she loves nothing better than to help her clients get inspired, get happy and make their own rules for a connected, passion-fueled life. Her first book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to High Energy Happiness, aims to motivate people with practical solutions to step up and live their best lives. A qualified yoga teacher she also runs her own yoga studio and leads corporate wellness seminars. Louise loves to run, cook and dance, and is an incurable travel junkie.

Read more by Louise Thompson

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