Listen to your gut
You don’t need a psychology degree to understand that deprivation only increases desire. “When we’re talking about food, that often means bingeing,” explains Markowitz. “Restrictive dieting—limiting calories, avoiding ‘bad’ foods—just isn’t sustainable.”
A healthier, more realistic approach is to pay close attention to what your body needs. This means assessing your hunger cues, emotional state, and any outside factors (i.e. feelings or triggers) that may be driving your desire to eat.
“When you take a second to check in with how you’re feeling instead of just diving fist first into the cookie jar, you can make more informed choices to give your body what it really needs,” Markowitz says. This is a concept called intuitive eating, and it’s centered on the idea that you eat only when you are physiologically hungry, rather than stressed, bored or upset. With intuitive eating, nothing is off limits, and it’s about honoring both your desire for something nourishing and your desire for something more celebratory, says Markowitz.
“You’re satisfying your nutritional needs with appropriate portions at the times that your body wants them, and then addressing any emotional needs through other means,” she adds. Still feeling hungry after dinner and craving a cookie? Have one. Overwhelmed at work and suddenly ravenous for candy? Take a moment to do a couple deep breaths, drink a glass of water, and asses if you’re actually in need of a snack, or if you’re simply reacting to your stress.
“When you check in with your physical and emotional state before eating, you’re less likely to find yourself in that binge spin and more likely to find your body’s happy weight and to keep it there,” says Markowitz.