Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This Is Not Intuitive Eating

Several of you commented on my last post and mentioned "intuitive eating" and my new "no rules" approach. So I thought I'd clarify a bit what I am thinking here.

I have read several books by Geneen Roth starting with this one back in the early 90's. I was so excited to read about a woman who lost weight by eating a plate of cookie dough every night until she didn't want it anymore. So I tried listening to my body and eating what I wanted. The problem is, I ate cookie dough every night for weeks, and brownie batter, and bags of chips, and I never got tired of them or sick of them or full "enough." And that has been the issue every time I try to do "intuitive eating." My intuition is muddled by my eating disorder. I cannot always tell if it is my body or my brain or my addiction talking when a food calls to me. It just is not an option for me.

When I said I am sick of rules, I don't mean I am lying on the couch in glee eating boxes of chocolates and bags of Cheetos thinking I will lose weight. I have sense. I want to be healthy. I am just very, very sick of dieting restrictions. You can call it a lifestyle til the cows come home but if it involves food lists, weighing, measuring, counting, etc, those are all restrictive behaviors. And that is not a bad thing! I am all for being restrictive and making whatever rules YOU need to lose weight or be healthy or reach your goals. I have had various levels of restriction all during this journey and surely will again. And even now, I am not *ruleless.* As I said yesterday, I ask myself if a food will nourish me. And sometimes, I decide to have a food that has no real nourishment for my body but has something about it that nourishes my soul. If I feel icky after I eat something I know I made a mistake. But the goal here is to base my intake on whole, fresh foods like I did before. I loved going to the Farmer's Market every week and then from November through April taking a weekly trip to the produce section for whatever produce is in season then. It was FUN making seasonal foods all year round. I miss that. I want it back. I am taking it back.

Dieting and rules is what got me to 278 pounds. I binge-diet-binge-diet-cycle'd my way up and down the hell scale for almost 20 years. I am DONE. No more cycles. Something I have learned about binge eating disorder is that it "needs" a guilt/restrict phase and an indulge/freedom stage. I have looped my eating like that for so long. But taking the restriction/dieting obsession out of the picture reduces the need and desire for food/binge obsession. I have to get BOTH under control to win this. I feel like I have it down about 75%. The rest will come.

If I don't trust my 'intuition' to make decisions about what I am eating, then what do I trust? My intelligence. I trust what I KNOW is good for me along with listening to my body *when the two match up.* For example, if I were to think, "hmmm, what should I eat? What does my body want?" and the answer is carrots with hummus or some salmon or watermelon, I eat it. If the answer is Cheetos, I say "um, no, try again...." If the answer is homemade ice cream, I stay with it and decide if that will nourish me. If it will, I have some. Fresh, homemade, no crap ice cream in a moderate portion. Or I make "ice cream" from frozen bananas in the food processor. Just the other day I was putting walnuts on my Greek yogurt and thought, "geez, this is a lot of calories. I had walnuts on my oatmeal, too." But I know the nutritional value of walnuts, and I know my body is wanting them, so I had them. I did not eat a whole bag of walnuts. I know I can gain weight on healthy food. But right now, I am just easing back into eating healthy, whole, nourishing foods in moderate amounts and not worrying about weight. If my pants get too tight I will have to cut back a bit. No problem. After a month of this I expect my desires and brain and body to sort of chill out and know it is getting fed, and when the cardio is added back in the weight will come off.

Even though I just got back from vacation, I am heading down the road again for a 3+ hour drive this morning to take my daughter to a kids' concert. She is so excited! Of course the pup is coming with us. She goes everywhere! We will be back on Thursday but this time the netbook is coming with me so I can blog. It will be interesting to see how my eating goes on this trip. I always find it more challenging to eat well on the road but I will share how it goes.

Enjoy your day!


Anonymous said...

Oh how exciting to see how you manage with your eatings after so long Medifast time. Your plan sounds good and I hope everything works out ok. Wish you all the best !

Anonymous said...

Yep. To all of it. I wrote in a post something to the effect that if I ask my body what it wants, it will tell me it wants ice cream and chocolate. And it doesn't register full when it comes to those things. Now, broccoli, it knows when it's full of borccoli.

As far as binge-eating disorder. Well, that's been in several of my posts, too. I did not binge when I weighed 252 pounds. No need. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted...which got me to 252 at 5'4" tall...but I did not binge.

My binge-eting disorder did not develop until I got serious about weight loss at the end of 2009.

Now, I've dieted before. Lost lots of weight before. And each diet ended with a binge. BUT the difference was...the diet ENDED with a binge.

No more diet, no more binge, no disorder. I'd have another binge about a year later, which would have been about 3 months into the next diet. And so it went. The disorder happened because I did not quit the dieting this time. I kept getting back up and going on. And I've lost weight.

Which is good. And I so hear what you're saying with this post and with your last. Being on plan 10 days, bingeing 2 days, being on plan 10 days, binging 2 days... Makes for little to no weight loss and much misery.

There has to be a better way. I, too, am stepping back and taking a deep breath right now. We'll see what simplicity and sense bring. (I've taken this step back before--I'm hoping this time it takes.)

Best wishes on ending the cycle and experiencing health.


Princess Dieter said...

Intuitive eating didn't work squat for me. I didn't get tired of pizza, lasagna, mac n cheese, or huge salads with blue cheese dressing drowning it.

I could still eat vats of all that.

I chose not to. I haven't binged in more than 14 months.

The body can deceive one as much as the brain. The brain is part of the body. For me, I.E. = epic fail.

If one is gonna have the apple and water anyway..then one can have the haelthy meals ANYWAY and be full with good stuff. :) It's always about saying no in the end to something, be it a tub o pimento cheese or a giant burrito or..a binge. It's always about learning to fricken say no to the bad and yes to the good.

And Lyn's ideas for this rediscovery is about damn good foods...not trying to discern what a body --and with those who get morbidly obese, the body IS out of whack, metabolically or otehrwise, and the mind may be, too, as I will fully admit for myself and my compulsions--or a brain want, but what a rational will wants. I'm all about the rational will instructing a wayward body and mind until the body and mind come into a state of reason/homeostasis/health. Call it what you will.

For Christians, I suppose it would be imposing the good on the bad. The body and brain can both be bad, but an informed and virtuous spirit or Spirit or will or Will can help with healing.

I'm an INTJ, so for me, it's gotta be..reason not a bunch of feelings. Feelings often get me in trouble, cause feeling tell me, "I want a whole pizza. I'm feeling THAT."

lisa~sunshine said...

I agree with everything you are blogging.. I know you don't need me to tell you what to do or even give examples because you have been on this road for a long time.. just like I have.. and you are best at knowing your body and what to do.. I'll be here to encourange you though and still be apart of your journey.. I love your blog..

I also understand the wanting and needing mostly of a break.. the biggest thing I have learned for me is that I diet for 8-10 weeks and then I take a complete diet break.. these breaks are needed by me..

have a good day trip.. I'm happy you will be blogging.. I missed you while you were gone

Jenn Brigole said...

I have been following your blog for quite some time now and I must say, you are doing an excellent job trying to find ways to make yourself realize the difference of what you want, and what you need. When you say that dieting and rules is not the best for you, for how it will turn out in the end, then it's not. So long as you don't stop trying to be healthy and live healthier, you are still in the game. Just try and keep your priorities right -- it's what we all can hope for.

Anonymous said...

It's not about the food. The food is the attempt to self-medicate what it's really about. Very few people will ever change what they need to medicate away all by themselves. Therapy.

LHA said...

What interesting comments! So many of us have struggled with weight and health issues that we have formed strong opinions about what works, and I love it when people share their views.

I understand what you mean about the idea of intuitive eating. It could result in my eating nothing but candy and cake all day! To me, intuitive eating does mean listening to what your body needs, but it also means being smart enough to not confuse a craving with a need. The main thing that all the reading I have done on this type of less restrictive eating is that no food is "bad" or "off limits". This only serves to make that food irresistible! You can certainly eat intuitively and eat healthfully and eat without restriction....and lose weight while doing it. For me, it is listening to when I am really hungry, making intelligent choices about good healthy foods to satisfy my hunger, and leaving the other foods which aren't as healthy for special occasions and eat them in small amounts. I enjoy those less healthy foods for what they are...something pleasurable but not good for my general health. I stress eating foods that are yummy, that I enjoy eating, and that are also nourishing and healthy. I guess that is what intuitive eating means to me.

mog said...

Re: Intuitive style Eating.

I am curious about your approach to when you have previously tried Intuitive Eating - whether you were using immediate desire or longer term desire.

i.e. Short term I might (quite congruently) want cake; but if I think about how it will make me feel before/during/immediately after/a bit after/long after it might not have the same appeal and something else will be what I really want.

My personal experience is that if I do all the stages, not just what I want to nom on right this moment, I get good info and make good choices.

Not trying to negate your experience; just curious as it differs from my own.

Tammy said...

I know firsthand that the calorie counting definitely gets old....I understand where you're at right now. I hope you find the balance you're looking for.

Tammy said...

I know firsthand that the calorie counting definitely gets old....I understand where you're at right now. I hope you find the balance you're looking for.

Mandy Hart said...

I've noticed that too about trusting my body's cravings...my food intuition is "off." It's been better lately. I'll tell you why.

This might sound like it's coming out of left field, but it might help you too. I started taking a magnesium supplement for a stomach problem I was having and I noticed a huge change in my appetite, cravings, mood swings. My appetite normalized. It became easier to ignore cravings, which just weren't as overwhelming. And my mood sort of leveled out. I've always had anxiety/depression issues and it feels like that improved too.

I'm no doctor, but do you think you might have a magnesium or some other nutritive deficiency causing the binge impulse? Like maybe your body is looking for something it isn't getting?

My whole life has changed since I started taking extra magnesium. My whole internal everything just got...better. I was completely shocked because it seemed impossible that something so simple could make such a huge difference.

I plan to write more about it at my blog in the future. It's too much to write here (This is already going to be a huge block of text). And I don't want to bore you if this doesn't sound familiar, so just let me know if you want more info.

And if you try the magnesium thing, let me know how it goes, okay? I hope it helps you like it did me!

Diandra said...

The funny thing about wanting "bad" stuff is that it can tell you what kind of "good" stuff to eat. Like... when my body wants chocolate, I can replace that with broccoli most of the time (especially when PMSing). And if I get enough protein, I do not want salty snacks. Stuff like that. It's a bit of "trial and error", but that's okay. ^^

deezer said...

I think that this is a much healthier option than sticking with a manufactured diet of shakes and bars - although you are right to applaud them for getting you to where you are today.

I am on the new WW plan - with pro points / points plus and i find that allowing me to eat a lot of fresh fruit and veg enables my body to get as much, if not more vitamins than it needs, and i find myself wanting the crappy foods less.

For my birthday i thought i'd treat myself to kfc - and boy was it DISGUSTING, some thing i never thought i would say, and i have never thought about KFC ina food fantasy kinda way since!

Keep on going lady!!

Diana said...

I think your plan is a good one, and I know you're going to successful!

And walnuts are good for you...in moderation. :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, thoughtful post. I, too, am a Geneen Roth fan (went to one of her workshops even) and have struggled with the intuitive eating thing for a LONG time.

For those of us who eat emotionally, saying "I'll eat what I want when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full" is a HUGE shift, and much more difficult to actualize than it sounds. We've also spent a lifetime letting diets dictate what, when, where and how to eat so trusting our own bodies - which we often loathe and despise - is almost heresy.

A major health concern prompted me to begin dieting this time around (it's either lose weight or die young or become disabled at a young age), and in addition to counting calories I'm also incorporating the intuitive eating this time around, trusting that tapping into the wisdom of my body and letting it guide me will lead me down the right path in losing and maintaining weight.

Oh, I'm still tempted to finish whatever I've got on my plate, telling myself that I already counted the calories, the fruit will go bad or whatever so I'd better eat up while I can, even though I'm already full.

But I am slowly learning to put the fork on pause and tune into and take my cues from stomach hunger, letting its rumblings or satiety determine whether it's time to eat or stop eating, regardless of whether it's mealtime or there's food still on my plate or everybody else is eating xxx in front of me....

It's a relearning process, although making the shift seems easier this time around, although I couldn't tell you why. Perhaps because my motivation is more salient and I'm accepting this as a new way of life (and not just a limited-time diet). Or maybe I've just had enough practice at it that it's finally beginning to stick. Or maybe I'm just tired of the endless struggle, despair, shame, self-hatred and frustration of binge-eating and obesity. Maybe it's all these things working together.

Keep your chin up and keep trying, even when you slip. I think one of the keys for us binge eaters is not turning against ourselves when we do slip, getting right back on track, rather than letting 1 unplanned cookie turn into 4, then into the rest of the box plus a bag of chips and a piece of pie because we feel so ashamed for veering off our plan at all.

The Sugar Queen

Happy Fun Pants said...

You are so very, very, very smart.

And that is one of the things that I'm trying to do - being mindful about what I put in my body - using intelligence and my appetite.

Last night I had a slice of pizza and wanted more emotionally, but I was full. So I stopped and didn't have it. If I went by only my appetite, I would've had more.

I think that as we get to know our bodies more, we can get to know what will work for us and what won't.

Good for you for going farther down that journey to figure it out.