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Restriction Verse Enjoyment

This week on the podcast I took a deep dive into mindful eating. I also unpacked a caller question on the difference between restriction and enjoyment. These two eating concepts are linked. I thought it was worthwhile writing up the key parts of this on the blog for you to come back to. 

There is no magic bullet when it comes to learning how to eat for your body. This is more so if you are doing it without counting calories or using weight on scales as an end outcome. 

The constant practice of mindful eating however is going to be one of your secrets to success here. Our bodies are constantly changing. This becomes very paramount when you get pregnant. More so when your baby arrives. If you are struggling though this time it is not without good reason! You have never had the body you have now so you are learning to fuel it for the first time!

This is aside from the fact that for a huge majority we have never been taught the practice of mindful eating. Some reading this will have potentially spent 30-40 years NOT listening to your body! Trying to stick to some 'plan' or set amount of calories/portions without checking into your the cues from your body. 

So do give yourself some grace here.

What Exactly is Mindful Eating?

= It involves the practice of checking in to one’s present thoughts, feeling and body sensations without judgement.

Next are some aspects of eating in which to start to apply mindfulness. Remember this is a practice and not something you will necessarily 'get' right away. I have also included an example mindful question. 

1. Hunger cues - am I hungry or is there another need not being met?

2. Deciding what to eat - what will nourish me the most right now?

3. During a meal - does this taste amazing?

4. After a meal - how do I feel?

These are only some simple questions to get started - there are many more! I even include a section on mindful eating in my book The Nourished Bump. This is because you are not only fueling yourself but either your conception journey to prepare for possible pregnancy or to fuel your growing baby as well - learning to check in to your body is so important here. 


Restriction Verse Enjoyment?

The balance between restriction and enjoyment is embedded into mindful eating. This is because you may want to have certain foods but you try to override that. Total restriction is going to lead to feelings of deprivation and even shame for wanting certain foods. Allowing your body to tell you will be your best guide. Giving yourself permission to have something you want will immediately take out that deprivation.

The trick then is to have a small amount of something and then check in to your body and what it is telling you. This is not a 'free for all' approach - which many of you know will lead to feeling terrible after and is not what you want deep down. You want to be able to have (for example) a few chips and then something more nourishing. In the allowing yourself it will take out that 'game' of "I really want it but shouldn't" AND (in a gentle way) force yourself to indeed taste it, experience it and then decide if you truly enjoy it.

Maybe the only way to know how you feel after eating to eat it! Then you can play around with the volume. I find it helpful initially to physically sit on your hands while you assess this. It is a good action to cue this check in AND takes your hands away from auto-pilot eating. Eventually you will learn to recognise the pull of certain foods especially with those created with bliss points - the exact mathematical equation of certain ingredients to keep you wanting more and more and more! 


Food should leave you feeling fueled and satisfied - not craving more with no end! 

I do cover more on bliss points and the strong hormonal pull that many ultra-processed foods create in my sugar reduction guide. I am also working on a full book on the implications of sugar too (not due for release until end of 2025). However you will find this guide really helpful!

I hope this has given you some places to start and practices to try. Remember this learning is life long! If you have any questions you would like answered do hit the contact page and be sure to listen to my podcast! We do a lot of deep diving into these topics. 

xxx Dr Julie

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