The difference between awareness and preoccupation with food
I was having a conversation earlier today with another personal trainer. Despite having differing viewpoints, we had a great discussion. Within our interaction he claimed that his approach with clients, which focuses on fat loss, enables people to become more in touch with their hunger and satiety cues. Whilst we can all vouch for the fact that a diet will make you hungry, we don’t have scientific evidence to suggest that dieting helps with tuning in to hunger and satiety cues. In fact, sustaining a caloric deficit by definition requires you to override these bodily signals. The hormonal response to dieting is not one of normalising but a response to the threat of famine. Your body will do the best it can to keep you alive, it doesn’t care about your aesthetic goals. Dieting makes you fixated on food because your body is trying to get you to eat it. This isn’t a healthy level of awareness, it is an obsession. We know that after a diet that the body is still out of whack, which makes maintaining weight loss extremely difficult. Energy levels are very low and that hunger and cravings are extremely high. This is why the majority of individuals regain the weight they lost and sometimes more. Those who do maintain their lower weight typically have to engage in disordered eating and exercise because they are attempting to stay below the set point, which is not something the body wants to do. I am an advocate for intuitive eating for a number of reasons, including the fact that it enables you to get back in touch with your hunger and satiety cues. Whilst intuitive eating is not ‘the hunger and fullness diet’, this awareness is valuable in helping you make an informed choice and what, when and how much to eat to fuel your body. This isn’t an exact science and hunger is not the only reason to eat. There is nothing wrong with eating a cookie because it looks good, celebrating with a slice of cake on your birthday or having some chocolate to cheer yourself up. Food is not just fuel, it is so much more.