I had some real misconceptions about intuitive eating. At times, I associated it with giving up, not caring, gaining weight, or only eating junk food. Then at other times, I thought of it as diet plan with rules that may or may not work for me. None or that is correct. Intuitive eating is eating according to my own body and mind. It's in line with my own values. I value health, freedom, flexibility, and fun. It's all of those! It's what each individual person most needs. If you like variety, or you like structure, or you like to snack, or you like big meals, it will always be what you need, and if your needs change, it will too. Once that clicks, you have no use for other people's meal plans and miracle solutions. It's the coolest thing ever!
It reminds me of a Tabitha Farrar video on her relationship with movement. Someone asked if she exercised now, like that would be frowned upon, or not allowed if you've ever had a problem with compulsive exercise. She said something like, "When you're recovered, you can do whatever the f**k you want! That's the point." I loved that. It made me think about the way I eat. When I was deep in diet mentality, or first trying to untangle myself from it, any attempt to eat a little healthier, or eat more plants, or anything like that would stress me out, feel restrictive, and then blow up in my face. That's because I always made it about weight, fear, and rules. Right/wrong, good/bad, succeed/fail, I couldn't conceive it in any other way.
Now that weight, fear, and rules don't enter into my food decisions, I can always eat in whatever way feels best today. I never feel like I'm locked into something, or not allowed something. I don't feel like it's possible to make a mistake, or like I'm stuck on some path that may be wrong for me. Of course I'm not! If I don't like my lunch, or my fullness level, or my energy after a meal, I can make different choices in the next instant to perfectly suit what I do need and want. THAT is intuitive eating. It's the ability to recognize what I need and honor it without anybody's permission or approval. I truly thought that if I was going to "do" intuitive eating, it would be about following some principles written by some dietitian ladies. 🤣 Like that would be my new thing that I did, always what somebody else said. NO! Those dietitians are only trying to teach us to think for ourselves and reconnect with what WE need. Once you've got that, you're free! The idea of following a list of food rules will seem as absurd as sticking to a pee routine, or a breathing schedule, maybe a blinking scheme. "I don't need help with those. Thanks. Happens all by itself." Food can be like that!
I totally get it, @Joyce. I was immersed in diet and fitness culture for so long, it seemed irresponsible not to track my food or follow a plan. I couldn't just...eat. Especially eating what I wanted, when I was hungry. That sounded insane. I wanted Doritos and I was hungry all the time. How is that a good idea? But like you said, it's a balance of health, values, and satisfaction. It's what you want and need, not what someone else has planned for you, and not an endless rebellion against all rules. I was surprised to realize that if I ate genuinely satisfying meals and no foods were off limits, that desire to eat mass quantities of cookies and potato chips wasn't even there anymore. Where previously I'd been holding it off with rules and willpower, now I didn't care, wasn't hungry, wasn't even thinking about it. It's been a strange and wonderful turn of events.
I feel like I completely misunderstood the IE message all these years, but I was also unprepared to embrace it. Listening to others’ opinions on diet and fitness over the last thirty years muddied my views. So now I get to really figure out what’s right for me. I‘m trying to balance my health concerns, such as my cholesterol, with my food choices. Sometimes it’s a miss, but I’m learning.
What I really hate about dieting is calorie and macros tracking. I‘ve done that so much over the years it made me think of food only in their calorie, protein, fat and/or carbs values, not their taste 🙄 Oy vey! No wonder some of my meals left me feeling shortchanged. I was dwelling on numbers, not on what would actually make me content at mealtime.
I agree about the flexibility @Melissa! When restricting, I feel like I used to spend half the day planning my food - what I was allowed to eat, what I wanted but couldn't have, how much I could have, which ingredients I could or couldn't use, whether I'd "earned" it, whether the math worked, what other people would think of my choices, or if I should hide my choices. It was a whole basket of crazy. Then, if there was a meal plan with recipes, that was next level madness. And going out to eat? Usually, I wouldn't even try. It stressed me out so much that I'd resent even being asked. And all of that seemed normal!
It's not. You know what's normal? Eating cereal for dinner because you don't feel like cooking. LOL
I love how flexible eating is now. I don’t have to overly plan my meals anymore. My decisions on dinner is usually, what’s in the fridge that needs to be used and what can I be bothered making. Some days, I like spending an hour and making a complicated, delicious meal. Other days it’s frozen chicken schnitzels and fries thrown in the oven. I first imagined I’d be making dessert every day, baking all the cakes and cookies. Most days I just can’t be bothered and it’s no big deal. When I do really want them, I have the motivation to make them, but not on a daily basis as I imagined.