I feel like 'happy' eating thoughts and habits still require an element of self-control and discipline....? Do you think? So there is still that factor of needing to 'hold back' and 'be sensible' which gets tricky - at least for me anyway. How much of a part in how you eat lately does self-control (for want of a better way to say it) play?
Self-control, discipline, and holding back play zero part in happy/intuitive eating as far as I'm concerned. Those are all words for restriction. That mindset is what I had to get rid of to move forward. It's more like Brigidoo described it where you're just making choices. Different choices have different outcomes, but they're all morally neutral. Eating a bunch of food until I feel ill lost it's appeal only because I was free to do it, and did do it, over and over again until I was sure I didn't like it. Then there was no restraint required. The more I tuned into how food makes me feel, the more I ate to feel good, which has nothing to do with self-control and everything to do with satisfaction.
I had those same thoughts for so long, that I would definitely be happier and everything would be easier if I were leaner. So then I'd restrict in subtle ways, resent it, and struggle. That never worked for either leanness or food peace. It was a diet by another name, "happy" dieting. Well, there is no such thing in my world. What actually caused the big leap in understanding was addressing my mindset and eating habits separate from weight, meaning Intuitive Eating with its active stance against diet culture and total disregard for weight outcomes. I was scared to death of this whole notion for years. I considered it "letting myself go" but the reality is that I set myself free and let the diet nonsense go.
Satisfaction is the engine that drives the intuitive eating train. I prioritize satisfaction over everything else, which is the exact opposite of restraint or holding back. I'm eating whatever I want, eating it mindfully, and eating until I'm full. What's not happening anymore is wanting something and telling myself I can't have it, or still being hungry but stopping eating anyway, or getting hungry and ignoring it because it's not time, or wanting one food but substituting it with another that is "better" for health or weight. The list just goes on and on. I really can't believe the change in mindset. I love this new experience so much that weight has become secondary. Instead of it being a giant gorilla occupying my every waking thought, it's like a little mosquito buzzing around. Sometimes I'm aware of it but mostly not. If I do become aware of weight thoughts, I swat them pretty quickly and go back to eating for pleasure, satisfaction, and feeling great.