Wait, What? I Can Have the Cake and Eat it Too? - What is Intuitive Eating?
Welcome to my blog - I hope you enjoy reading.
And if you think it's utter nonsense you are welcome to move on to something else... 😅
I love to eat. I always have. I loved to eat when I was in a larger body and then when I was at my lowest weight I was more obsessed with it than ever (but that's a story for another blog post). Although I loved to eat and I still do, it hasn't always made me feel as good afterwards as it should. In fact, my relationship with food has been the cause of a lot of pain, anxiety and depression for me.
Like tons of other people in the world I'm recovering from an eating disorder. I've come a long way and I feel like my story is worth sharing with other people. Eating disorders affect many and we all come in different shapes and sizes.
That being said. My recovery journey is the primary focus of this blog. The ups and downs I have experienced and am still experiencing, what I've learned and what I do to keep the peace with food and my body. Last year I found out about something called Intuitive eating and it has changed my life.
So what is this Intuitive eating all about?
First let me tell you what it is NOT.
It is not a diet
Intuitive eating would simply be called "eating" if it were not for the diet industry.
It's that crazy idea that you can actually trust your body to know what you need, when you need it and how much. You can't fail, there is no wagon to be on and therefore there is no wagon to fall off.
Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or a health professional. Also, I realize that this doesn't suit everyone. What I write is based on my own experience, what I have learned by researching the topic and what my therapist and I have discussed.
No food is forbidden
Foods are not "good" or "bad". They are all just food that you can have if you want to. What happens when you decide to eat without those rules, these foods you have previously marked as "bad" lose their power over you and will eventually become less alluring. If you are well fed throughout the day, and not obsessing about something you can't have because nothing is forbidden, you will crave foods with high sugar content less.
Honor your hunger and fullness cues
If you feel hungry, eat. Even if its 9 PM, it's only been an hour since your last meal, you haven't exercised today, you ate so much "crap" yesterday... and the list goes on.
We also have to honor our fullness as much as our hunger. Fullness shouldn't be uncomfortable. While eating, I like to take a minute once in a while, lay my hand on my stomach and look for cues that I'm still hungry or getting full.
Eating is a pleasurable experience
You will feel more satisfied emotionally and physically if you eat what you really desire in a nice environment. I find that I always feel more content after a meal if I sit down with a plate or a bowl and eat it. Rather than just stuffing my face in the car with a stale sandwich from the gas station. I get that sometimes you don't have a choice but I always try to make eating a pleasurable experience.
For example, I always look forward to dinner time at my house. That is when my family and I sit at the table together, without distractions, to eat a meal that we have usually prepared ourselves. After a meal like this I always feel comfortable, satisfied and happy that I've made this experience for me.
Be kind to yourself - It's not about being perfect
If you have been yo-yo dieting, restricting and/or binge eating for a long time, it can be difficult to feel if you're hungry or full. I know that all to well. It's very important to not beat yourself up for eating until you can't move or falling into old restrictive behaviors. Give it time and try your best to feel your body's cues next time. It's what you do consistently over time that matters.
Respect your body - F*ck the diet industry
This is perhaps the most vital thing about intuitive eating. If you don't respect your body you are constantly looking for ways to change it, and it is usually about going on a diet of some sort.
The power of the diet mentality is so incredibly strong. I found out that as soon as I start doing something as innocent as writing a meal plan on a paper, even if it's for the next day, my urge to binge immediately rises.
For me, restricting and even planning to restrict, will always cause a binge. Restricting isn't just limiting calories, it also means deciding to only have specific foods, deciding to eat only at a certain time, counting macros etc.
In these situations my body goes like:
"Oh no! It's a famine or something, we must keep her focused on food ALL THE DAMN TIME so she doesn't die, also we must slow everything down to prevent her current resources from burning up"
Your body probably does this do, it's just how bodies work, they want you to thrive. When your body is well fed and not afraid of scarcity, it will decide that it's safe to burn up your energy resources. Your brain, muscles, heart and everything will work better.
Eventually your body will settle at a weight that it's comfortable with. We have to accept that this set point is not something we can change, just like we can't change our shoe size.
Having the cake and eating it too
This is sort of my take on intuitive eating, hence the name of this site.
When it comes to food you can absolutely have the cake and eat it too. It means that you can eat a slice, or two, of your delicious cake and then store it away for later. If you have been honoring your hunger and fullness cues you probably won't want to eat the whole thing (and if you do, you shouldn't feel guilty about it, sometimes we just do want to eat it all).
The cake, or any other food, can exist in our house without causing anxiety or an urge to binge on it. If we desire a cake we can eat it, if we don't we can still keep it for later.
I used to get very anxious when someone left a cake or some other snack at my house, sometimes I would not think about anything else than this cake and if I could have it, when and how much I could have of it. The cake had the power. It sounds ridiculous, right? And it is.
I have never felt as much freedom and happiness after I decided to reject the diet mentality completely.