Intuitive Eating…How It finally clicked.
Wouldn’t it be great to eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full, and be happy with your body? These days that almost sounds like the impossible. With pressure building from social media and new restrictive diets being promoted right in front of our face, we have all lost touch with ourselves. Being in tune with your body can be done but it takes time to get there.
If someone told me a couple of years ago that I wouldn’t have to think about food anymore, didn’t have to worry about how much but just listened to my body, I would have laughed in their face. We are all born with the skills to intuitively eat, it’s society that has taken that skill away from us. I’m going to tell you the long journey I went on to try and recover my intuitive eating skill I was born with and how to get back in contact with my body.
WARNING: If your suffering or recovering from an eating disorder, please consult a professional as you may or may not need a more structured way of eating.
How did I used to eat:
4 Years ago I decided to go Vegan. After watching documentaries and educating myself about how animals were treated I made the PERSONAL decision to cut out animal products. So I started doing my research on how best to eat a vegan diet and found loads of articles about High Carb, Low Fat Diets (HCLF). Looking back this was just so wrong, but all a learning journey. My body craved fat, substance and protein so much I would end up eating way too many carbohydrates, spiking my blood sugar levels. (more detailed blog post to come)
Since then I got unwell and felt awful. So I started to add fat back into my diet as this was what my body was screaming for. I had got so good at switching off my body’s messages that I led with my head. At first, I was reluctant but tried to eat a more balanced diet.
However, I was still restricting when and how much I ate as I wanted to make sure I was getting the correct nutrients at the correct time. This seemed like a normal thing to do, control your portion and timings, but that little bit of control was actually draining.
(Just a side note: I know that if you need to lose or gain weight a certain amount of control is needed but this is MY story of gaining a better relationship with food.)
For years I would get home, starving, my body crying out for a good bowl of carbohydrates, protein, and fat and I would tell myself I had to wait until ‘Dinner time’. Is this you?
So what changed?:
I was forced to stop. My ‘life’ came to an abrupt halt when I got very unwell (see ‘My Story’) and I was on bed rest. It shouldn’t have taken something this dramatic to help me wake up, but I’m glad it did. When you are unwell, your body’s medicine is food. Macro and Micronutrients help to heal and recover. I was so frustrated with my life and not being able to work and thrive that my general attitude became “fuck it”. I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Although I had raging thoughts that I would gain a ton of weight, my skin would break out and I would feel dreadful, I tried my utmost best to ignore them.
My tips for ignoring ‘body thoughts’:
- Music – When a thought comes into your head listen to music, LOUD. Speak the lyrics to yourself, or sing at the top of your voice to drown those thoughts out.
- Child – Think about your body being a little child. It’s crying for something and you need to work out what it needs. Does it need protein, fat or a big bowl of pasta? Listen to your inner child.
- Boredom – Make sure you’re not bored, and that’s why you’re getting these thoughts. Do something like yoga, meditate, go for a walk or dance!
It was only through me being forced to stop and rest was I able to realise that I had been in too much control and I needed to let go.
Will I gain weight if I just ate when I wanted too?
This is really hard to answer as everyone is individual. My personal experience was that when I fully ate intuitively for the first few months my body had to go through an adjustment phase. I was hungry ALL THE TIME at first. You have to accept that this is going to happen and it’s an obstacle you will come through. Your body will learn to balance itself out. HOWEVER, and this is a BIG HOWEVER. Initiative eating works best when you are eating good quality, whole foods. If you are eating processed stuff with hardly any nutrients in, your body will still be craving those nutrients and will want to eat again and again until it gets them. The best thing to do is eat an abundance of nutritious food at each meal to feel what satisfaction really feels like. There is no point in eating ’empty calories’ as then your fueling your body falsely! Try having all three micro nutrients with every single meal and you will be surprised at how full you feel.
It was hard at first but once you’re over the first hurdle, initiative eating becomes something you don’t even think about. Your mind-body connection grows and you think positively about food!
I hope this has helped some of you who are struggling to lose that bit of control. Like I said, If you have disordered eating you need to seek PROFESSIONAL advice on the best way for you to eat. At the end of the day, food shouldn’t be negative, or even something we think about too much. It is to be enjoyed and it is fuel for our amazing bodies. Life is too short to ‘worry’ about things that are meant to be joyful!
In conclusion, I am in NO WAY telling you how you should eat. Some people work best with a diet plan. I’m just sharing how freeing not thinking about eating can be. How it takes so much mental pressure off of you. So give it a try, but accept it’s a journey with peaks and troughs.