Giving Intuitive Eating a Whirl

tiltawhirlFor five years, I’ve written down everything I have eaten.

But today marked my first day of not journaling … not even in my head. It wasn’t easy to tune out the voices, but I was able to do it … today.

While I don’t plan to ever report a play-by-play going forward like I’m about to do now,  I did want to share my feelings on how today –my first day without reliance on my food journal — went.

All day, I tried to remember the ten basic tenets of Intuitive Eating (IE), which I read and reviewed last August. (You can read that review here).

I admit it felt very weird not to be writing things down, or going to Sparkpeople, but I really, really tried to listen to my hunger queues.  It also felt weird not to be thinking in terms of Points or calories but rather to listen to what my body needed.

A couple noteworthy moments from today:

I listened to my body’s hunger queues and it felt nice.

Around 11 I started feeling super-hungry (breakfast — my usual Chobani yogurt, Kashi and berries — had been at 8:30).

I waited it out, let myself feel hunger (not fear it)  — and, realizing it was real and not boredom/stress, I had some carrots and a Laughing Cow Light wedge while running errands at noon.

Then I came back to the office for my brought-from-home lunch, which was perfectly satisfying (leftover BBQ chicken, a couple sweet potato “fry”wedges, broccoli and an apple).

Still, I got very hungry again around 4, and knew dinner wouldn’t be til late. So I had a Luna bar (which was all I had on hand at work — need to remember almonds tomorrow) to stave off hunger and tide me over.

At dinner, I had a taste of the appetizer (stacked naan) we all shared and a piece of this Indian chip (I forget what it’s called). It was ok; not my thing but I did try it before predetermining I wouldn’t like it, and that’s progress :). 

For my entree I went with what I was craving: red meat. (I think it’s because my period is coming — I usually crave red meat then and could easily go without it the other three weeks of the month).

So I ordered the sirloin steak salad with raita, which was absolutely delicious. I didn’t ask for it prepared dry or with any special preparation, for the first time ever since being on WW.

Why? Well, I knew it was a lean cut of meat, and told myself I was going to be ok if I ate til satisfaction. Still, not asking for it prepared dry was out of character for me. (Tiny steps!)

The amount of meat was the perfect size, and I surprised myself still leaving some of my meat and some salad, too on my plate. I felt satisfied, not stuffed at all.

Per usual, we shared dessert, and I had a few small tastes of each and, feeling very satisfied, sipped my water and Diet Coke when I was done. I enjoyed dessert tonight — no, I savored it. 🙂

At the grocery store later on, I had a couple things I needed to pick up. I found pretzels on sale in the snack aisle for my hubby’s party this weekend … and in the same aisle, instinctively grabbed a bag of Honey Nut Chex Mix (which I’d usually eat a handful of and toss).

But then I put the bag back on the shelf, realizing that was an impulsive move, and not intuitive. Plus, food (and money) isn’t meant to be thrown away. There’s nothing wrong with the Chex mix itself but I was buying it out of habit (to toss) which made no sense with my newfound ‘tude.

I had planned to work out tonight since I took yesterday off, so having  digested, I did a quick cardio workout at the gym — but stopped before I typically would have pushed myself.

I got home around 10 and was feeling a little hungry but didn’t want to mindlessly munch.  So I took a T of my fave all-natural chunky PB, brushed my teeth, and now I’m prepping for bed and waiting for my hubby to get home from class (he gets in around 11 M/W since he commutes to/from Ann Arbor for biz school).

All in all, I feel good.

I feel like I “grew up” a lot in these past 24 hours, and I hope to keep this mindset up tomorrow and going forward.

You won’t hear daily recaps from me going forward — this isn’t a food blog or a fitness blog — but I did want to share how my first day went.

As always, I’m going at this one day at a time. Wish me luck! And good luck to anyone else who would like to join me on this wild path.

I know it’s risky, but there’s a greater risk in not doing anything different and seeing the same results (i.e., none) … which is the definition of insanity.

Hope you have a great day!

Edited Thurs. a.m. — I woke and had a small “midnight incident” for the first time in a long time. (If you’ve been following my blog you know they used to be routine, where I’d wake and eat, usually timed right before TOM–the week before). I think when these moments happen, I will need to journal exactly what happened and pinpoint why. Hunger? Anxiety? Stress? Hormones? I went to sleep so happy about how my day had gone, so I think this time it was hormonal (due any day now for TOM) but I think it will be helpful to see when these incidents happen. That will be the only time I will commit to journaling over the next few days — if that happens again. It’s those midnight incidents that caused me to gain weight in the first place — I’m often on autopilot when they happen. I will hope for a better night tonight.


44 thoughts on “Giving Intuitive Eating a Whirl

  1. Great job Liss!!! Congratulations on a day very well spent. Can’t wait to hear how this goes for you in the weeks to come. xx

  2. It sounds like you had a great first day at eating intuitively. Just take it one day, thought, bite at a time. You get as many do overs as you need. I don’t know how you feel about mantras but I have two that really help me fight the diet mentality when it rears it’s ugly head.

    The first one is ” I love and accept myself, I don’t listen to you anymore” and I say that each time a thought about needing to diet, self sabotage, negative self talk, any of that happens. And the second is “I am who I want to be” I remind myself of this because it helps me to remember that I am the only one that can make my dreams come true.

    I don’t know if my exact mantras will be the right fit for you but coming up with positive renfourcement to combat the negative thoughts that ARE going to happen has been a really helpful to me.

  3. Good job on day one. To see if your intuition matches up with your points, you can estimate your points for the day and see how far your intuition is off (or on). If you find after a week that your average of your intuitive “points” is about the same as your WW Points, then you’re on the right track. My problem with IE was that my intuition would, at times, be skewed and the compulsive overeater that I am would weigh in over IE, making me gain. IE / mindful eating is a great concept, one that I am trying to do in conjunction with WW, because I cannot leave it up to my disordered mind to do alone. Good luck.

  4. Thanks Yas!
    Christie, I love mantras. Mine for this year was supposed to be “my body, my temple” (a way to love, honor and respect it — fueling it well) so I like those two you suggested a lot 🙂
    Hi Pearl, I think that’s a good point and I’m going to give this a few days without any journaling b/c if I went back and assessed yesterday’s points I think I’d have been in an ok range — had I not eaten more over the weekend, etc. My problem is my midnight wake-ups – that’s when my defenses are down and I’m prone to eat more than I needed and am not even awake really to stop it. Thanks!

  5. I think you woke up because your mind feels deprived since you did not buy the chex mix. Try buying it, bringing it home, and letting it be. I think an idea from Intuitive Eating is that you should be able to exist peacefully with any kind of food because no food is forbidden. If you overeat it, you overeat it. Keep buying it, and keep trying to come to peace with food. You are in control, not the chex mix. Don’t give power to food.

  6. Lorrie, honestly, I think I woke because of hormones — I have been tracking these incidents (timing/TOM) for years now, so in this case, I honestly don’t think it was “deprivation” at all. I actually felt ok. I do agree I can choose to buy it, but that wasn’t what was best for me yesterday–esp since I’d toss it anyway.

  7. Great job! It really does seem like there is a hormonal component to the late night eating. While it is possible there were some feelings of deprivation due to not buying the Chex as Pearl suggested above, I am not sure if that is the reason unless you were really really really wanting the Chex. There are many foods that I often think I want in my mind but don’t really if that makes sense? There are things we buy out of habit, when I was binge eating for me it was pastries/baked goods. I would walk by a bakery and go and and get something even though I didn’t really want it. Not like I was craving it or hungry for it. (but then of course would eat it once I bought something) It was like an autopilot/habitual thing. I think you are in a habit of buying the Chex mix, not because you LOVE it and crave it but it represents something to you or just has become a “go to” food. If you really crave it then by all means buy it (or buy a single serve bag of it–they sell them at convenicne stores) and savor it.

  8. Thanks Lara. Yea, I am 100% sure this time it was hormones. I honestly didn’t feel deprived at all. I’d had a great night out with my girls, and then a nice (short) night with hubby when he got home from class — so it really wasn’t about that.

    And I woke up tummy-growling this morning which is usually a good thing (I like to wake feeling hungry and ready for my fave meal — breakfast!)

    Exactly, I don’t think it was about the Chex at all — esp since we have a bag of cheddar chex at home for the party this weekend that I would have dug into if I really wanted chex (vs a T of PB and a graham and some choc chips like I had at 2 am) .

  9. Pearl, I read your comment and I just want to share with you my experience. It took a long time for me to learn the difference between my compulsive overeater and my intuitive eater but learning the difference is the key. Years of deprivation leads us to believe that the compulsive overeater and the intuitive eater are one in the same but if you stick with the process, I assure you that you will one day learn the difference. In order to be truly intuitive we have to give up all of the outside influences in choosing what and how we eat. Overeating our forbidden foods IS part of the IE process and it is an important one but you can get through it. Baby steps. As I did with Lissa yesterday, I encourage you to read the post she linked on my blog yesterday. Good luck to you.

  10. I’m glad your day of eating intuitively went well. It can be a very empowering experience to actually listen to our bodies.

    Sorry about your midnight incident, but I think you know that it can be a culmination of many things, I think stress and horomones could definitely be factors.

    Have a happy Thursday!

  11. Congats on trying it. It sounds like you had a nice day and dinner. Everyone I know has something during their time of the month. It is the only time I actually crave chocolate. I agree with overeating being apart of IE. I never heard of IE until yesterday. I just quit dieting and worked it out in my mind. When I have overeaten I feel gross, not guilty, not angry, my stomach hurts and I feel overstuffed. I don’t feel satisfied I feel BLAH accompanied with low energy and wanting to sleep. I like enjoying food and not feeling like my stomach is going to burst.

  12. On another note since I listen to my body telling me when I am full. I have gone out to eat with people and don’t even get through much of my meal and I say “I’m full” or stop eating. They think I don’t like the food. I don’t know how many times that I say “It is delicious but I am so full, I will take the leftovers home”. Many people aren’t conditioned to stop eating when they are full because the food tastes good so they keep eating.

  13. That’s the beauty/evil of food marketing/dining out!! We’re conditioned to eat when it’s in front of us.

    I’ll usually finish a salad, but usually if I order an entree, I usually eat half or so and then reassess if I want/need more. But I remember one time (at my thinnest) I ate a whole piece of lasagna at this Italian restaurant (it was delish, I was hungry) and a friend made a big, huge deal of it and it really upset me. “I can’t believe YOU ate ALL of that!” she said, staring at my empty plate. and suddenly I felt horribly insecure about something I’d been good with all that time. 😦 It wasn’t a good memory.

    Aside from that bad experience, over the years, I have learned just not to say anything but just to put my fork down and no one has ever asked me about it. I’ve come to realize* no one cares* what anyone else eats so there’s no need for me to draw attention by saying anything at all, really. but if someone asked, I’d say what you said, “I’m satisfied, i enjoyed it.” That’s not being disordered; it’s listening to your body.

  14. Sounds like, besides the midnight incident, you had so much succeess with IE! That is wonderful! And a special “good job” for not buying that Chex Mix. I know how hard those old habits can be to break.

  15. I will try that for sure, just put my fork down. I can’t believe someone would say that to you! My mom made a cheesecake once and it was when I lost weight but I was not nearly too skinny. I was fit. She kept asking me if I wanted a slice of cheesecake. I kept saying no thanks because I don’t like cheesecake. My dad said “You need to eat a whole cheesecake”. I ran out of the room and dramatically threw myself on the bed sobbing.

  16. That is great!! What a powerful moment, putting down the chex mix, too. Oftentimes if I just have a single thought about binging or binging/purging, I give in so quickly. But the times I’m able to resist, well, there aren’t words!

    I agree that the midnight incident is TOM related. This whole week I’ve been craving sweets like the devil, but I need to remind myself before my TOM, that is just how I am. Lovely hormones. 🙂

    I checked and they have the IE book available at my library…I’m going to get it this weekend!

  17. Thanks, Lara!!! And I love that we share a Jillian girl-crush 🙂

    Oh Alis, that’s awful! I can’t believe they did that to you!! I LOVE cheesecake, that’s probably my favorite dessert. I make a CF piece last four or five days though 😉 whereas before WW, I’d have eaten it in one sitting.

  18. And yes, I was very upset when that happened. It really was hurtful because I was at a place (emotionally as well as physically) where I could eat anything I wanted and stay slim … (at that time) and I didn’t think twice about finishing my plate because I was hungry and wanted more.

    I didn’t think I’d need to defend myself and I was embarrassed that it had elicited my friend’s attention. The truth is, I bet she didn’t even realize how offensive her comment was to me, but it hurt a lot.

  19. Thanks Holly! It does feel good. And oddly, I didn’t beat myself up this morning for having woken and ate. I remembered something from therapy — reframing it as it was happening. That helped. And I still woke hungry for breakfast so that likely means I had been a little hungry, too, not just hormonal.

    I am going to reread it. I realized I had gotten it from the library so I need to buy it, to have for me to keep. But I printed off the ten tenets to remember 🙂

  20. I`m so happy for you comitting to IE! I had done this a while ago.. lately i`ve fallen off that plan a touch but this is something I need to remember. when I`m not eating intuitively is when I`m bingeing. I completely agree with Christie.

    I would encourage you to continue to not count or estimate or anything. It takes time to actually believe that you will no longer restrict. It took me months. I was eating as if it were the last supper for a while before my mind finally caught up. On my good days now I can have a craving and say: I probably don`t really want it, if I do still want it later I`ll get it. It takes the compulsive behaviour out. If the next day I still want it, I might go get it. Not feeling guilty over it and really enjoying it when you do have it is a huge part of the battle.

    You can do this!

  21. Sorry about the lasy comment, not sure what happened.

    Anyways, I am so proud of you for yesterday. Intuitive eating, not counting, listening to your hunger cues i think is a big step. Don’t let your incident last night ruin or tarnish the triumph of yesterday. It is great that you had the ability and capacity to listen to your hunger.

    Take Care

  22. “When I’m not EI I’m binging “– hello that is an awesome way of looking at it. I like how you said too, it takes the compulsive behavior out of it.

    Thanks S. 🙂

  23. Great discussion happening here, Lissa!

    I agree about IE and binging. It seems to me that I am either dieting, binging or attempting IE. I feel so much more grounded and “myself” when I am working on IE. It is surely a much saner and healthier place for me, no matter how much I weigh.

  24. This is the BEST though. Wait until people ask you how you lost weight and you say “I eat when I am hungry and exercise regulary”. When I see people that haven’t seen me in a long time and they ask “What’s your secret?” and I say “I eat less and work out a few times a week”. I doubt they believe me like I have some special secret I am saving all for myself. Now that I know it has a name I will tell them IE.

  25. Hells’ yea! Everyone wants a magic bullet. But what works is eating less and moving more. Amen! In essence, that is IE.

  26. well…… Sometimes IE means eating less because you are following your hunger cues but sometimes, it may also mean eating more when your hunger tells you to. And with exercise, it is also important to listen to your body. I don’t think there are any magic bullets. We just have to trust ourselves.

    Just wanted to throw that in there.

  27. Very good points. I have been SUPER-hungry again today. It’s all part of a balancing act, I suppose.

  28. And of course certain times of the month are going to bring more hunger with it. I find my hunger really fluctuates. Some days I am not that hungry at all and other days starving for no rhyme or reason. I have learned over time which foods really satisfy me. Things like Luna bars only make me hungrier and munchy in the long run while a snack of yogurt or almonds will keep me so much longer. This has been one of the biggest shocks of IE for me–finding that my food preferences are based more on how the food makes me feel as opposed to how they taste (sweets, snacky things etc that my mouth likes) Not to say I don’t eat sweets but knowing how I feel when I eat healthy, whole, clean foods can easily overpower the inner child screaming “I want candy”.

  29. I have a hard time not fearing the hunger too. It’s like the second my stomach makes a grumble, I immediately eat without second thought.

  30. Lissa, I’m a long term reader but first comment because you hit my territory with this one.

    Intuitive Eating and Appetite Awareness Training (another good book) is really helping me recover from disordered eating as well. I’m a yoga teacher & the whole yoga thing helped as a huge amount, but really as a way to get in touch with what my insides felt like on an emotional & physical level so I COULD eat intuitively.

    In your honor, will plan to post tomorrow or next day on my own intuitive eating process. Support, sister!!! : )

  31. I agree that sometimes I eat more then other times but I eat less because I listen to my body when I am full. I fluctuate with my food intake too. I know for a fact that overall I eat less. It is just an easy way of explaining it to people. For me personally eating more some weeks (the week before that time of the month) and eating the way I normally do evens out. For whatever reason my body needs or wants more at that time. Then I am back to normal. There is always a fear in me that I might go back to eating that way. As time goes by I realize that isn’t the case because I wasn’t listening to my body then and I completely do now. The same way when someone starves themselves they aren’t listening. When I was overeating I wasn’t listening.

  32. After couple years of eating perfectly and noting everything down you should be so used to it that there shouldn’t be any problems with going about your day without a journal. Make sure you get enough protein though.

  33. Lara, I totally agree–that’s why I knew that Luna bar wasn’t the best choice, but it was better than nothing and going to town on something else. Clean foods DO make us feel better, inside and out. I had a banana pre-workout this a.m. and it felt great!

    Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for speaking out 🙂 I love a good dialogue. Amen for support!

    Hi Alis, I agree it will be an experimentation. I will just try to have as many whole, clean foods on hand for true hunger, and keep in mind it’s ok (and good!) to enjoy a slice of cake at my hubby’s bday if I want it! 🙂 It’s going to require listening, vs berating the voices in my head.

    Odzyskiwanie — I def. wouldn’t say I’ve eaten perfectly and that’s not my goal at all, but I do agree, after years of journaling, I know what is “enough” or “too much” or “unnecessary” — doesn’t always mean I will stop but the awareness factor is there.

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