Thursday, February 18, 2016

How Intuitive Eating Helped

Intuitive eating was helpful in many ways and not in others.

The first idea that worked and stays with me today is eating small portions –if  I’m still hungry, I can eat more later.  I remember going to a workshop and someone saying that it’s startling to see how little they needed to feel satisfied. The woman said it was actually sad – she mourned large portions, but she didn’t need them.

I do this now. I eat small portions of anything I want and am still, to this day, surprised that a little bit is quite enough.

This leads me to idea of eating anything I want – no food is often limits, and I love that. For most of my life, I would deprive myself of most things tasty until I couldn’t take it, and I’d binge voraciously until I couldn’t breathe. There was no such thing as one cookie or one scoop of ice cream or one piece of bread.

Some people believe that some foods should be off-limits, that some of us have allergies to certain foods like sugar and wheat. I’m not sure what I believe, but I do know that I am able to eat everything in moderation these days, and don’t even want a lot of sugar or wheat. I’m surprised by how very little sugar interests me.

I do believe, though, that we each need to know our own bodies and honor them. If someone finds she can’t eat just one cookie or piece of bread, then she can refrain from eating them, if that seems to work best.

What didn’t work for me were a couple of tenets of intuitive eating. When I first began the process, I was deeply in the throes of binging and in six months, had gained 65 pounds. The idea of stockpiling my house with all my favorite foods (mint chocolate chip ice cream and brownies) proved too difficult to try for long. I loaded up on “binge” foods and ate and ate and ate. And ate. Freaked out, I stopped stocking ice cream and went back to my nearly empty refrigerator (diet coke & wine) – too scared was I to be around food. (I’m happy to say that my fridge currently brims with food – everything I need to eat. None of it calls to me when I’m not hungry.)

What also didn’t work was eating frequently throughout the day – every time I felt hunger, supposedly. For one thing, I wasn’t particularly attuned to hunger yet. Personally, I like to think less often about food, not more often. And I didn’t want to be eating all the time at work – it  seemed smelly and odd.

Also with intuitive eating, there’s the idea of eating only when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. So, if you’re not hungry, no matter where you are, don’t eat. This just didn’t work for me all the time. If I went to my boyfriend’s house and his mother made dinner, no matter my level of hunger, I was going to eat what she made. And I wasn’t going to nibble.

I can do this because I’m no longer afraid. I can face food fearlessly and comfortably and not think about it before or after I’m eating.

I learned this ability through Overeater’s Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. My next post will cover how this works.

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