Intuitive Eating…..Feeling Hungry ALL THE TIME & Craving ALL THE FOOD

In the beginning it was really hard to eat intuitively. I was tired of rules but felt out of control around food without them. It felt scary to let go of control & hard to believe that I would ever get to a point where it would be easy to wait for hunger, respect fullness, & not feel out of control around things like chips, fried foods, & desserts.

The starvation study done by Dr. Ancel Keys during World War II really shows how normal it is after restriction & diets to feel out of control & unable to wait for hunger or stop eating. In the study 32 men were were required to lose weight & cut calories almost in half to an average of 1,570 a day for 6 months. The men had a lot of the same things happen to them that happen to those who diet such as obsession with food & intense food cravings. One man was reported to have suffered a complete loss of willpower and ate several cookies, a sack of popcorn, and two bananas. Another subject “broke diet rules” and ate several sundays, malted milks balls, and even stole candy, and some of the men exercised more to obtain increased food rations. Once the diet was over & the men were once again allowed to eat at will, hunger became more intense & was insatiable. The men found it difficult to stop eating. Weekend binges added up to eight thousand to ten thousand calories. It took the majority of men an average of five months to normalize their eating.

It took the men 5 months to normalize their eating after only 6 months of restricting and something tells me these guys weren’t all that concerned with good vs. bad foods or felt guilty for over-eating. For me it wasn’t that simple & diet mentality still lingered in the background making it hard to just enjoy the freedom & trust the process.

Looking back I had to allow myself time to let go of controlling my choices to get to a place where they didn’t need to be controlled. I had to let go of judgment & instead look at things through a lens of self compassion. I had to remind myself that it was a learning process & accept that it was going to take some time to learn how to eat intuitively. When I wasted time beating myself up & feeling guilty, I learned nothing. When instead I looked at choices with curiosity & asked myself questions such as: How does the food taste? Is there something I could add to this meal to make it more satisfying? Is there anything I’d rather be eating? How does the food make me feel? How satisfied do I feel after eating? If I wasn’t hungry, what was it that made me want to eat? What was I hoping the food could do for me? Did the food help or hurt the situation? How did I feel later? How were my energy levels? How long did it take me to feel hungry again?

At first I felt hungry a lot & didn’t always want to wait for hunger, but as time went on & I felt less hungry overall I slowly transitioned from someone who fought against wanting to eat when I wasn’t hungry to someone who found that eating without hunger ruined the experience.

At first I craved everything that I restricted & really couldn’t see why anyone would ever choose to skip fries, ice cream, candy, & dessert if they were always available but over time I became someone who didn’t care as much about all the fun food & cared more about well I was taking care of myself.

Now I don’t have to try to eat intuitively, I just do. Looking back I wish I could have relaxed & enjoyed the ride a little more but maybe it was the struggle that helped me become the type of eater that I wanted to be!!

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