Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dieting is out: Intuitive eating is way cooler!

I've had a few people ask me to explain Intuitive Eating... I sort of suck at it... (Though, I think my friend "Forealya" said it best, "Intuitive eating is kinda like normal eating.")

Here is a link from the Center for Change that explains it in more detail.

Dieting Failure:
"Most people blame themselves and their “lack of willpower” for their diet failures. In reality, diet failure can be attributed to the body responding to hunger and the body's state of semistarvation or starvation. The body and mind react to a diet in the same way they would to starvation. In starvation, the body's metabolism decreases, and cravings increase. This is the set up for diet failure. Metabolism naturally slowing down during starvation is the body's attempt to conserve energy. A decrease in metabolism means the body is burning calories at a slower rate. Also while on a diet, the mind becomes preoccupied with thoughts of food and cravings intensify, especially for foods that will provide quick energy, like sweets. Eventually, it is too difficult to fight nature. People can't remain on diets forever and when dieters terminate their diet efforts, it is common for overeating to ensue. Overeating and even “normal eating” with a suppressed metabolism will cause the weight that was lost to come back. The failure rate of dieting (95%) is so high, not because people aren't good enough or strong enough but because our bodies were designed to fight weight loss."
I hesitated to put the above quote, because... well... as a person with an eating disorder, I read things like "people can't remain on diets forever", and TRIED. Even though my eating disorder was never about losing weight... It was about willpower, punishing myself, not deserving to live... but I took the fact that I COULD starve myself forever as a sign that I had more power over my body than the average person. (SO messed up, but I thought that way.)

Intuitive Eating:
"Intuitive eating (also known as “Normal Eating” or “Mindful Eating”) teaches individuals how to look inside themselves and listen to internal cues. It also provides guidance on how to form a healthy relationship with food. It is an anti-diet approach to eating. There are no rules to break and no temptations to resist. Intuitive eating, unlike dieting and meal planning, is not a set up for failure."
Intuitive eating was HARD. I thought I needed rules... without rules and without EXTERNAL control, I would fail. Only... it was the external control that made life miserable. I wanted to live my life. Intuitive eating was a step in finding the way to trust myself, follow my own internal guide. I no longer need anyone to tell me what to eat... or how to live.

Mindful Eating:
"Checking in during various times throughout the meal can also help us to be mindful while eating. We can ask questions like:
  • Where is my hunger/fullness level?
  • Am I enjoying this food?
  • What would make my eating experience more pleasurable in this moment?
  • Would I rather be eating something else?
  • Am I staying present while I am eating, or is my mind wandering around?
  • What external things influenced my food choices today?
  • How can I reconnect to the internal signals my body is giving me?"
I'd say these questions have completely changed the way I look at food. It's AWESOME!
A few weeks ago, I had the stomach flu. I don't own a scale, but I could tell I had lost weight after not keeping food down for several days. When I finally started feeling better, I noticed I was very hungry... For several days, there were so many foods that tasted really good. There were several foods that I don't normally like that I craved, so I ate them. There is no doubt in my mind that my body sent me the signals I needed to get it back to a healthy place.

There was a time, that that natural compensation would have scared me. I would have felt out of control, it was cool to be aware of what was happening and to appreciate it. (I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a few moments where I felt anxiety.)


  1. This is something I've been working on. I'm trying to pay better attention to what my body needs. My body will tell me when it is full, it will also tell me when I need certain foods. I like it a lot.

  2. I just love your thoughts! This hit home because a lady in Idaho wrote about this and got me thinking. I am now down 25 pounds because I know what my body needs and I am listening. Learning to to notice when you feel full was the key for me. The lady told me about a book to read called Intuitive eating but what I have learned most is the my body needs fuel so never stop eating just eat in moderation. It's been that simple for me. Jill's site is amazing for anyone who struggles with weight issues.