After reading “Intuitive Eating”, I wanted a life with freedom from food rules & exercise goals but struggled with “reject the diet mentality”. Diets may not work for most, but I was pretty good at food rules & exercise goals. Of the people in my life there are very few intuitive eaters. I have those that are careful eaters & work hard at staying “in shape” but also those that are more entitled eaters who eat what they want when they want to & don’t live the healthiest lives or feel their best. While I was sick of being on the diet mentality side of the coin I still wanted to make choices that honored my health & left me feeling good.
It all seemed so black & white, food rules & exercise goals on one side, eating what you want & exercising only when you feel like it on the other. If I had to choose one or the other at first, I would have chosen diet mentality, the alternative just didn’t seem that healthy. Finding the shades of gray took a lot of work & at times didn’t seem all that realistic. It was hard to believe they even existed when I didn’t see it happening all that much in real life.
I wanted a road map. A list of “how tos” to show me the way. I read & listened to everything I could but no one seemed to address the fact that just because you’re not living with food rules & exercise goals doesn’t make you an intuitive eater.
It took a lot of time to figure out what I was truly craving. At first I couldn’t see a reason why I would ever skip dessert if I was always allowed to eat it & why I would ever choose a salad over pizza. I spent some time trying to use how those foods made me feel to encourage myself to avoid them but noticed my kids who are the most intuitive eaters I know don’t feel bad after eating things that the diet world considers “unhealthy”. I think a lot of the bad feelings surrounding those foods come more from either overdoing it or diet mentality. I had to start making choices based on what would lead to my best life. Eating only pizza & desserts won’t lead me there but neither will eating only salads. How foods made me feel played into the equation, but it was more in a general sense of how well I’m taking care of myself & not “this one food group makes me feel bad so I avoid it”.
Waiting for hunger & stopping when satisfied was really hard at first. It was difficult to know what the perfect level of hunger & fullness was & trying to get it right felt restrictive. I couldn’t use the hunger fullness scale without turning it into waiting for the right level of hunger & stopping at the right level of fullness = good = weight loss & with that equation Intuitive Eating was just another diet. I had to pay attention to how food tasted when I was hungry compared to when I wasn’t in order to get to a place where I WANTED to wait for hunger & stop when I had eater enough so I would be hungry again later. There were PLENTY of times where I ate before I was hungry, felt disappointed with the taste, & kept searching for something that would satisfy me only to find that without hunger nothing tasted good enough to be satisfying. There were also a lot of times where it took way too long to be hungry again when I would keep eating past satisfied. Eventually I got better at waiting for hunger & stoping when the food no longer tasted as good, but it came from a place of getting more enjoyment from food instead of from a place of wanting to weigh less.
It’s not always as easy as I want it to be. I had hoped that eventually I’d become this person who always knew what she wanted, never ate past full, & always waited for hunger. I’m not sure that is realistic. I ate past full & ate when I wasn’t hungry before I ever went on my first diet. I do know that if I instead of dieting I had chosen to learn to eat more intuitively, I would have had a much better relationship with food!!