I still have vivid memories of my first experience with “intuitive eating”. I was drastically underweight in college, dancing for hours a day, and eating very little. I read intuitive eating and was inspired. Inspired to just listen to what my body wanted, needed, desired. This resulted in me consuming 1/2 a jar of chocolate peanut butter. Not one of my finest moments but at that point in time my body probably needed it.
One of the biggest struggles for me has been figuring out a happy medium between controlled, restrictive eating, and eating exactly everything I’ve ever wanted. Here’s the thing, eating is not black and white. The more I learn the more I realize how different what I “desire” is from what I “need”. When I was first recovering from that very restrictive time in my life it was easy. I could eat what I wanted without much control or attention to my energy levels, how my body felt, and how I looked. But then I hit that point where I was at a healthy weight but the confusion stuck.
If I were eating “intuitively” why did my body always want chocolate, sweets, and bread? I’m not saying these things are “bad” but for me they’re not everyday foods. I know now when I eat them I don’t feel my best but getting there was a process. It took me a long time to realize that I may “desire” foods that my body doesn’t necessarily need or want. When I am tired and low in energy and I desire carby bready foods I know that they are not going to serve my body the best. Instead I may take a nap and fuel up with meat for dinner because my body needs the energy boost. Another example. I have celiac disease. While my family is eating cookies and cake on birthdays, I may desire a piece, but deep down I know that my body doesn’t want it. In fact I’d be sick if I ate it. So intuitive eating takes a much deeper listening than just giving in to those “desires”.
As much as I would love to stuff my face with chocolate everyday like this…I know I’d not be feeling so great if I did!
Intuitive eating is asking not only what does my body want but what does my body need. Tomorrow how am I going to feel after eating this meal. Intuitive eating is not a free for all of ice cream, candy, and cake. Does this mean I won’t ever eat a cookie because it is not the fuel my body needs? Nope. I will because sometimes I do need some instant sugar. Sometimes I do just have a craving and I know that the more I put it off the more I will want it. It’s all a balancing act. One that takes intricacy, careful listening, and constant leanring. I’ve made more mistakes than I can count. Everything from giving in too much to not giving in enough. It’s still a work in progress and I believe to some extent it always will be, but I also believe that about life so I guess things aren’t so bad after all.
What’s your take on “intuitive eating”? Has it become a buzzword for you that you don’t quite understand or is it something you strive for?