I had an interesting conversation this week about how to reconcile intuitive/happy eating with a desire for weight loss. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. On the interwebz, some people will tell you that it's impossible, that any desire for weight loss is restriction and will cause problems. That has not been my own experience. Restriction is problematic, true, but it also doesn't result in weight loss, at least not of the permanent variety, so that's not what we're going for anyway.
I know I've said this before, but if you want to weigh X pounds less, you need to eat/think/live like someone who weighs X pounds less. If you continue eating and thinking the way you are now, you will continue to weigh what you do now. It sounds obvious, but it was like a cartoon light bulb over my head when I realized it. If I were leaner, how would I approach food differently than I do now? How would my inner dialog need to change? How about my consistency? Awareness while eating? My sleep? My stress management? My food environment? You can't change all of that instantly, but you can start moving toward where you want to be with every day, meal, and decision. What do you value? If you value food peace, energy, and health, you can't sacrifice those for leanness. They need to be key parts of the process. I realized that, for me, calorie counting (off-limits foods, rules, software) would solve nothing. I'd be the same heavier (thinking, acting) person with external restriction applied. How is that ever ever going to end well? My mind is what needed to shift, not control of my eating.
What was your natural body type like? Before you'd dieted or binged? As a child? How about members of your family? Maybe you've already achieved your natural, healthy, ideal body. If so, pushing it further than that may require an unacceptable level of restriction and sacrifice. My people are built like spider monkeys, tall and thin with long limbs. That was my body type before the madness, so it's not a stretch to come back to it. It's where my body ends up when I eat to appetite and treat it with respect. That said, the main difference between now and twenty pounds heavier for me is that I'm more satisfied with less food. I eat less now than what was necessary to maintain a body twenty pounds heavier, but I don't feel deprived and my body never went into crisis mode. I feel better than I ever have! That's because it was achieved so slowly and pleasantly. It was small tweaks adding up over time. I fiddled with little things like the size of plates and bowls I used. How much meat I put on a sandwich. For visual abundance, I ate cereal out of an overloaded small bowl instead of a giant half-empty bowl. I still eat pizza regularly, but I switched to thin crust veggie pizza most of the time instead of deep dish meat. I packed my work food instead of eating out. I parked far away and took the stairs. :-) Basically, I embraced all of those teeny changes that I'd deemed stupid anytime an expert suggested them. They seem so pointless and insignificant, but taken together and repeated hundreds of times over years, the collective difference is HUGE. It's like floaty little snowflakes getting together to become a roaring avalanche.
My appetite changed along with my habits. I never ignored hunger. Like Georgie says, people who ignore hunger tend to also ignore fullness. But I did (and do) feel hunger clearly now before meals, and I go to sleep feeling light and empty. At the higher weight, the signals were more muddled and I spent more time feeling full, especially at night. Even though I was more full on more food, I was less satisfied. I didn't enjoy my food as much as I do now. I tended to eat faster with more distractions. I served myself more autopilot portions at set times instead of tuning into what I really wanted and how I was actually feeling. So, basically it was a lot of small changes adding up over time. And also lining up my behaviors with my intentions. If I intend to get a little leaner, happier, and more in tune with what my body is telling me, I need to eat like that's my intention today. Baby steps though. Not just slashing a third of my food intake.