In my first job as a dietitian I worked with clients who had eating disorders. One of the resources I used to help them change their relationship with food was Intuitive Eating. This concept is something that often talk about with my current clients (weight loss surgery patients) and also something that I talk about with my friends as they come to me with concerns about their nutrition, eating and weight. Often when I start thinking about these concepts I wonder, “Am I practicing what I preach?”
So the other day I picked up the Intuitive Eating book and started reading and taking notes. I recently bought a journal that I have been writing in almost daily so I wrote about my eating habits there, with my awesome purple pen that I just got, too. I am just getting into the book, just a few chapters in, but I figured that I would share what I discovered about myself in just that short time.
I have MOSTLY rejected the diet mentality. At least, for myself. This is something I feel really conflicted about because of the nature of my job. But when it comes to how I eat myself, I steer clear of diets for the most part. Don’t get me wrong – I’m allured by the latest and greatest diet plans as much as the next person, especially because I’m so involved in it and surrounded by it (but really, aren’t we all??). I think about my weight, how I feel, how I look. I have a number just like most of the people I know – the weight I think I should be. But I also contradict those thoughts by realizing that the number on the scale really doesn’t matter. Other determinants of health are more important. And I am pretty darn healthy. So you won’t see me restricting myself… but I still wouldn’t say I’m able to call myself an Intuitive Eater.
Running is the number one thing that has helped me to become more of an Intuitive Eater. As I was reading along I started thinking about my running and how I eat to fuel myself. I don’t follow any strict guidelines other than when I am doing longer runs and I know I have to fuel because my body won’t always tell me when I need it. I eat the foods that make my body feel the best for running before I go out. Sometimes I don’t leave myself enough time to eat so I will have to grab something quickly, but overall I feel like I let my intuition guide me to what I should eat. After running I eat what sounds good and delicious – sometimes it is a burger with fries and a Coke, and sometimes it is a salad, fruit and water. Rarely is it some kind of dessert or sweet, but I don’t pass those up necessarily either. Like I said, it’s all about what sounds good at the time and I don’t feel any guilt.
I am an unconscious eater. I tend to eat for emotional reasons. I tend to get so busy that I eat mindlessly or even forget to eat altogether. I am a “waste not” eater – I see food with monetary value attached to it and I will finish things even after I feel full because I don’t want to waste it. I will help my husband clean his plate so that we don’t waste food. These things have all gotten BETTER for me in recent years, but they definitely are still there.
So this is what I have thought about and discovered so far. I like that this book does not immediately dive right into nutrition information, and one of the things they mention that they have updated in the newer edition is that they removed as many numbers from the book as possible. Numbers tend to make people feel guilty because they serve as something to compare. I absolutely agree with this – when I jump on the scale it can make or break my day, EVEN THOUGH I know that I am healthy and fully capable of running a full gosh darn marathon no matter what that stupid thing says. And often when I track my intake I feel great when the numbers are where they are “supposed” to be. When I see those red numbers, I start to feel guilty. I start to throw in the towel. I eat 4 cookies instead of the 2 that would have satisfied me. So I guess back to my earlier statement – I definitely haven’t totally rejected the diet mentality, but I’m getting a lot better.
I am looking forward to reading more of the book and working more with this. I’m also looking forward to sharing more with my followers. I’d love to hear from you about your relationship with food, and whether or not you have heard of Intuitive Eating, especially if you have read this particular book, too!