I’ve been moving toward Intuitive Eating for myself and with my clients for the past few years. This is exciting to me, as it opens up a whole new world of being and eating for my clients. But, the other day I had a situation happen in an online support group that questioned my definition of Intuitive Eating.
My journey with Intuitive Eating has been an experiment, to say the least. It started when I was so run down and sick with Adrenal Fatigue, Leaky Gut, Food Allergies, and all the goes with that….ugh, the bloating, gas, weight gain, …..
I feel like I have been through every stage possible when it comes to how to eat, what to eat, portions, weight loss, weight gain, euphoria and confidence to depression and self loathing. Oh, and denial that I was actually sensitive to foods I was eating on a regular basis. Big time DENIAL; like purposely eat a food I knew I had tested allergic to just to make myself sick to prove it was true. I’m stubborn.
That is how it began, with my being sick.
I was so anti-diet and restriction that I couldn’t even follow a strict healing diet. Nope. No way. Even the thought of that made me want to binge eat. I still won't do it.
I had to get CURIOUS. I had to make food be FUEL. I had to realize that food is ENERGY and whatever meaning we give it is just that.
I started to get curious about how food tasted. I got curious as to how I felt after I ate it. How long before I got hungry again? Did I have enough energy to get through the day? I threw all the food rules I had in memory out the window, because let’s face it, that’s just f*cking confusing! I had to start creating a relationship with my personal body. Even your energy body is influenced by the food you eat.
I still recall the first time I applied this non-judgemental, curious mindset to food that in the past I had always labeled BAD. My kids wanted Sonic, so I agreed to go. I got a burger and tator tots (I still love their tots!). I had a hard time eating it without being a nasty bitch to myself. You know the script: You shouldn’t be eating this. This is so bad for you. How many carbs in this? How much fat? How much will I gain from eating this shit food? And more.
But, this time, I made it different. I applied a curious mindset. When those bitchy thoughts came into my head, I pushed them away and replaced them with “Omg, this is so amazing! This is exactly what my body needed in this moment.” Repeatedly. I HAD to break the cycle of beating myself up and giving food more power than myself, if I was going to eat intuitively.
I did this with any food I ate. Well, when I remembered. In the beginning, of creating any new habit or change, it takes a real conscious effort.
Eventually, do you know what happened?
I realized I no longer (or rarely) eat processed foods.
My food is “CLEAN” and mostly whole.
I cook more.
I eat out the same way I eat at home.
I can travel and not gain weight or much weight.
I make food choices based on how I want to FEEL most of the time. Or based on the energy that I will need to get through the day. If it’s a leg workout day, for example, and I’m hungry, I’m going to eat oatmeal if that’s what I want. I know I’ll need the fuel later. If I’m working with clients or at my computer most of the day, I don’t need to eat anything heavy.
I ask, I check in and I listen.
This most certainly didn't happen overnight or in perfect fashion. It's been work! But worth the effort.
I have examined my own cravings and what they mean.
I have experimented with all kinds of food and paid attention to how I felt 30 minutes, 2 hours or more later.
I have even realized that I ate foods all my life that I didn’t even like! I still remember telling my dad I didn’t like cornbread. Really? I was surprised, too. I don’t like cucumbers! Or raw carrots. I don’t even like cake that much. Who knew?
Intuitive Eating is about checking in with your BODY and asking what it needs to feel nourished, alive, full of energy or more grounded. It is not listening to the mind. It is breaking lifelong habits and doing something different.
Intuitive Eating is NOT about just eating any and everything you want because your body will NEVER intuitively desire shit food or food that is overly processed, sugary, junk, void of any real nutrition. Really. It. Just. Won't. That is your mind and past habits, addictions, hormonal imbalances, etc. telling you what to eat.
The body will crave and tell you to eat whole, unprocessed, clean foods.
I don’t claim to have this mastered. I still eat things that I realize later wasn’t a great choice for me. It was funny, yesterday I purposely set myself up to not take care of myself in exchange for something very old. I kept saying I wanted Starbucks. As I was driving to the outpatient surgery center for my husband’s procedure, I started to check in. My MIND wanted Starbucks. Our bodies are just not going to need anything not nutrient dense. The old habit of being in a hospital setting requiring coffee and long hours without food while you wait set in. My BODY just wanted a clean, simple meal and my big bottle of water. As I acknowledged this, I still made the choice to have the Starbucks. And to not take care of myself as I played nursemaid for my husband. Well, this was awareness. This is still progress and process. No regrets, just curiosity and learning.
I want to invite you to experiment and get CURIOUS about your food and how your body feels about what you eat.
How does it respond to certain foods?
Do you have more energy?
Do you feel bloated?
If you’re still labeling food good or bad, why?