Getting in Tune with Your Body
By Valerie J. Halpin, MD
Have you been on a fruitless search for the answer to your weight problems in the latest diet books, diet gurus or fad meal plans? If so, you may be surprised to find that the solution to long term, sustainable weight loss has been with you all along. If you want to put dieting behind you and have the healthy body you deserve then you can no longer neglect the cues your body is sending you to help you stay slim and healthy. Bottom line: you have to learn how to tune in on the inner cues that you were born with to help you lose weight and start enjoying life.
The first thing is to learn when you are hungry. I often tell my patients that they should only eat when they are hungry. I get varying responses from “I’m always hungry” to “I’m never hungry”. Think of eating the way you would think of fueling your car. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need more fuel. There needs to be room in the tank before you put more fuel in. Unlike your car however, extra fuel doesn’t just run out onto the ground when you put extra in. You have to carry the extra fuel you eat around with you. It’s also important to make sure you don’t run out of gas along the side of the road with symptoms of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Most people usually have a fair amount of time between hunger and symptoms of low blood sugar such as headache and irritability If you are someone who gets low blood sugar easily, you may need to eat more often, but in smaller amounts.
The second issue people need to pay attention to is how the food they are eating makes them feel. Did something you eat just cause chest pain? If so, then you may need to modify how or what you are eating. Does the food you eat make your heart race or cause sweating? If you have had bariatric surgery, these are signs of dumping which can occur when you eat foods that are high in sugar or fat. These are signals from your body telling you to avoid those types of foods. I use a very simple rule of thumb, “if it hurts, don’t do it”. If you are not exactly sure what it is in your diet that may be causing discomfort, keep a food journal for a week. You will want to keep track of what you eat and the symptoms you have along with the times for both. Then you may be able to see patterns of what foods or combinations of foods are the culprits.