Part 1 – Intuitive Eating

Yes, that’s right: it’s a double-post Thursday!  Actually, this post and the one below started life as one REALLY LONG post, but then . . . they were kind of separate things, after all.  But they’re both in my head, so I’m posting them both, and they’re kind of related, so my recommendation is to read them both together.  Or not.  Because let’s face it: if you don’t, I’m not gonna know!  LOL

So.  I’ve been eating fewer (refined) carbohydrates in an effort to balance my blood sugar.  And it’s been working pretty well, which is SO neat.  It’s nice not to be exhausted all the time – who knew?  LOL.  Last night I went hiking with a friend of mine and then afterward we went to this KICKASS macrobiotic restaurant downtown for dinner.  Without thinking I ordered my favorite thing on the menu: seared tuna with avocado, sprouts and pickled onions on a whole wheat bun.  My friend also got some baked fries for us to split.  After I placed my order and paid I thought, “Oh, crap.  I’m not supposed to be eating bread.”  And then I thought, “This is EXACTLY the kind of thinking you need to knock off!  You’re not ‘dieting!’  You only go hiking once a week, and you missed last week, so a freakin’ hamburger bun and a few fries once a week (at the most) aren’t going to kill you.  DO NOT get neurotic about this!”  So I enjoyed my “burger” and as many fries as I wanted (which always turns out to be fewer than I would have eaten if I thought of them as “bad” foods, interestingly enough).

But.

By the time I got home to my apartment, I had a KILLER stomachache.  The kind with the sharp, stabbing pain in your lower stomach?  Anyone?  Just me?  Oooooookay, then.  I took some (more) enzymes and waited for the pain to subside enough to fall asleep.  And this morning when I woke up, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat eggs.  I still felt a little sick, and (ironically) I wanted BREAD.

Now here’s the thing I run into with Intuitive Eating: I really do believe that nine times out of ten, my body KNOWS what it needs.  If I wander around the farmer’s market and think, “Oo, fennel looks good!” then I buy fennel because I figure there’s probably a nutrient in there I need that day.  If I feel like I really want some peanut butter, I just eat it.  And so forth.  But this morning I got up and wanted bread like WHOA.  And I KNOW it will make me sick again – that has been borne out again and again in my experience.  So why do I want something that I KNOW will make me sick?  (I know, I know: brain chemicals are the answer.)  And it wasn’t like an inner 7-year-old that WANTS IT WANTS IT WANTS IT!!!  *insert foot stamping here*  It was the same sort of want that I get for certain vegetables or certain meat sometimes.  So now what?  How do I reconcile the IE with the knowlege that sometimes stuff like that makes me sick?  (As it turned out, I had a glass of milk and a couple spoonfuls of hazelnut butter for breakfast: no refined carbs, but enough fat and carbs to settle my stomach and some protein to “stick to my ribs.”  It was, interestingly, the only thing other than BREAD that sounded even remotely good to eat.)

Actually, maybe I just answered my own question above: “It was, interestingly, the only thing other than BREAD that sounded even remotely good to eat.”  Maybe the answer with the IE is to say, “Ok, I know that [x] food will make me sick, so even if I want it, I’m not going to eat it.  So the next question is, what ELSE sounds good?”  And then eat whatever else sounds good.  Even if it’s just milk and hazelnut butter.  (Can I just say that I had an elementary school flashback this morning while I ate that?  A big ol’ glass of milk and a spoonful of nut butter.  I felt like I was 8 years old, LOL.)

*Edited to add: my system is TOTALLY screwed from that bread.  I had a pretty small breakfast, and it’s almost 11:30 in the morning and food STILL sounds gross.  Wow.

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13 responses to “Part 1 – Intuitive Eating

  1. Sounds like a little epitome! I’ve always been rather interested in the idea of intuitive eating, but I absolutely do not trust myself to eventually find some sort of moderation, although I do know that as long as I outlaw some foods, they’re exactly the ones on which I’ll end up bingeing!

    Anyway, the lovely MizFit recommended your blog so after a wee nosey I shall certainly be returning!

  2. I think that’s one reason why I struggle with the whole intuitive eating concept–while I think some of the things we crave are our bodies letting us know we “need” something, there are so many other reasons we crave things that I could never totally trust what my body swears it wants.

    Unless I’m missing some key nutrient only found in cupcakes?

  3. This intuitive eating thing intrigues me but I don’t know if I trust myself enough yet. I get cravings for bread all the time and I know that I will get very ill if I eat bread. I think some times I actually crave what I’m allergic to or having trouble with.

  4. Hello, MizFits! 🙂 Nice to meet you all! (Well Crabby, I’ve met you before, but welcome back!)

    Cara: That was the thing I was MOST afraid of, honestly. I absolutely, totally, 100% did NOT trust myself, especially since I had some serious bingeing problems. But honestly, since I started eating Intuitively (more or less, because of the blood sugar) I haven’t binged ONCE. Which is weird. Great, but weird. But for me, the IE removed all the shame and guilt around food, and now that I know I can have whatever I want . . . it’s almost like it freed me to really HAVE what I WANT instead of thinking, “Must not eat ice cream, must-not-eat-ice-cream, mustnoteaticecream, MUST EAT IIIIIICE CREEEEEEEEEAMMMMMMM!!!!” If that makes sense, LOL.

    Crabby: You have an inner 7-year-old too! It’s not just me!! Cupcakes, mmmm . . . LOL Yeah, my inner 7-year-old doesn’t get a vote unless I want it for more than a passing moment. If I’m thinking about it again tomorrow and tomorrow night, I’ll just eat the damn cupcake, but 9 times out of 10 I’ve forgotten about it by then. 😛 But I also have to wonder how much stuff I want because I’ve told myself for so long that it’s bad and I can’t have it, you know?

    Weelittleme: You know, based on my own experience I have to think that everyone’s body is different and sometimes our bodies are a little . . . misguided(?) in some ways. I mean, someone who is predisposed to alcoholism is more likely to crave sugar for instance (I have to go find that link), but it’s not because sugar is GOOD for them. It’s because the chemical balance in their brain makes them a little more sensitive to certain substances, so alcohol and sugar give them a higher “high” than someone NOT predisposed to it. I mean, if we could design a perfectly “Normal” person, then I think that person would never crave foods that would make them sick, but since we’re all sort of jacked up in our different, precious-little-snowflake sort of ways (LOL), we might crave foods that aren’t so great because sometimes our brains? Are not that smart. Or at least that’s what I tell myself! Ha!

  5. I like to do the same thing about intuitive eating- I sort of listen to my body for a few minutes and figure out exactly what it wants. I try to determine what I’ve got a craving for and then from that I can take a guess at what nutrients are in that food that I’m needing.

    I am ALL ABOUT drinking a glass of milk and having a spoonful of nut butter. That’s my favourite snack. Straight from the jar:)

  6. Sagan – Yeah, I do sort of the same thing. I divide my cravings into stuff I Want and stuff I Notice. Stuff I Notice is the kind of thing I’ve forgotten about 10 minutes later: you know, when you drive by a donut shop and think, “Oo! A donut!” Stuff I Want is when I KEEP thinking about it. LOL So I usually give it some time if I know it’s not something very good for me, and if I haven’t forgotten about it in a while, I’ll go get one. But most of the time I have a mind like a steel sieve, and 10 minutes after I pass the donut shop I’m like, “Donut shop? Did I even PASS a donut shop?” *shakes head* The attention span of a goldfish, that’s me.

  7. Hi – I have read a bit about intuitive eating, but not sure if I would trust myself about needs vs. I just want to eat it! And I do believe cupcakes ARE a necessary nutrient. I am correct about this, right? right?

  8. Missicat, I DO believe that cupcakes are necessary – maybe not for my body, but sometimes my mental health demands a cupcake! Ha!

  9. Just stopped by to say Hi!

    Yeah, cupcakes will never be looked at the same since Crabby McSlacker entered the view!

    Dr. J

  10. Dr J, every time I go to Crabby’s blog and see those damn cupcakes, I WANT ONE!!! And I’m not even a big cupcake fan! (I know, I know: there’s something wrong with me.)

  11. I know how everyone feels but since I have been doing intuitive eating my binges have stopped. You go through a phase of eating non-stop but eventually you realise that you can have it whenever you want it and you enter into a normal and healthy eating pattern. Also believe it or not if you keep eating sweet foods (or savoury foods) you WILL begin to crave a salad or fruit. I just think your body goes through yearnings for food that lasts a few days and then you move on to something else. I believe you must not restrict yourself at all, or second guess yourself, you should have exactly what you feel like. Otherwise it feels like your restricting and the cravings persist. But you must be hungry – like you said – you cant just drive by a macdonalds and then think I want a hamburger. Thats not hunger thats impulsivity. But its the scariest thing Ive done but I dont regret it I feel a lot more normal.

  12. Dan, I think you’re exactly right. And I think that phase of eating everything in sight is actually really healthy from a mental point of view, because it allows you to realize that you really CAN trust yourself around food, and from there you start to realize that you’re not really as “bad” as you always thought you were. I still find that the more I look at foods as “good” and “bad” the more I want to rebel and eat the “bad” foods, but when I really just view it all as FOOD and don’t assign a moral value to it my eating naturally falls into much healthier habits. It’s fascinating to watch myself do it.

    Having said that, I will also say that going through that period of time where I felt like I would NEVER. STOP. EATING. was freakin’ TERRIFYING. There were a lot of mental issues I had to deal with there, some rational, others . . . well, not so rational, LOL. You have to be pretty committed to riding out the fear, but in the end it is SO worth it. Eating intuitively has had more of a positive impact on my eating disordered behavior than anything else I’ve ever done.

  13. Dan, I think you’re exactly right. And I think that phase of eating everything in sight is actually really healthy from a mental point of view, because it allows you to realize that you really CAN trust yourself around food, and from there you start to realize that you’re not really as “bad” as you always thought you were. I still find that the more I look at foods as “good” and “bad” the more I want to rebel and eat the “bad” foods, but when I really just view it all as FOOD and don’t assign a moral value to it my eating naturally falls into much healthier habits. It’s fascinating to watch myself do it.

    Having said that, I will also say that going through that period of time where I felt like I would NEVER. STOP. EATING. was freakin’ TERRIFYING. There were a lot of mental issues I had to deal with there, some rational, others . . . well, not so rational, LOL. You have to be pretty committed to riding out the fear, but in the end it is SO worth it. Eating intuitively has had more of a positive impact on my eating disordered behavior than anything else I’ve ever done.

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