Monday, January 23, 2012

Beating the Binge: Intuitive Eating

Hello TFB readers! My name is Shelley, and I blog over at Salmon and Sandwiches. I am a triathlete, like Rae, which is what initially drew me to her blog. However, I have stuck around for her honest and down to earth posts as well as upbeat attitude! One thing we have talked about a little is intuitive eating. I enjoy reading Rae’s weekly updates and can completely relate to everything she writes, so I figured it was a good opportunity to share a little of my intuitive eating story and tips! Let me start by saying that intuitive eating is no walk in the park. There are so many messages in our society that contradict intuitive eating.
It’s all around us! At the grocery check out…

The dressing room, the cafeteria at work, out to lunch with friends…you just can’t escape!
Sometimes these messages can get in the way of truly listening to our bodies. Ok…maybe not for you, but for me they can! So just bear with me while I get to the point.

For years I ate what I thought were “good” foods and a somewhat restrictive diet. I thought exercise was the only way to lose weight or achieve the “perfect” body but didn’t know how to properly nourish myself for it. This restriction and desire to be thin led me to a binge- deprive cycle. Let me tell you, this was not fun. My mood was strongly affected by the number on the scale and I stressed about food, weight and exercise, all.the.time. I thought I was doing all the “right” things, and didn’t understand why I was on the path of steadily gaining weight versus losing.

It all seems obvious to me now, but when you are in the midst of it, having some clear insight can be tough! The good news, is that I have a very positive relationship with food now and exercise for the right reasons instead of just wishing to transform my body. The other good news, is that I truly believe every woman (or man!) can get there! The disclaimer is that it takes a bit of work and patience to achieve. If you are like me, the negative patters far outlived positive ones, so retraining the brain can take time. But once you get there, it is SO worth it.
What helped me go from food obsession to listening to my body? Well let me tell you!

I ditched the scale. That’s right. Altogether, up and stopped using it. The scale wasn’t doing me any favors. It was more of a source of self criticism, and a desire to be in control. The reality is that the average woman’s weight fluctuates throughout the day, week, month, name it! We are not supposed to weigh the same every day when we wake up, sometimes we need to retain some water or store some nutrients for our body. That is normal and it is ok.

Some find the scale helpful and it doesn’t affect their mood or how they feel about themselves at all. If it works for you, then keep on doing it. As long as you aren’t causing more stress in your life- whatever you do is a-ok in in my book! I’m just here to share what worked for me 

Ditching the scale was scary! I thought I was going to balloon up over night. I didn’t. Instead, I found other ways to observe my size that were a lot more helpful.
I gauged how my clothes fit. As long as I could still zip my pants, sit down comfortably, and wear everything with ease, I knew I was maintaining. There have been times when my pants get a little snug. Does this make me anxious? Of course. But instead of going into restriction mode (which I have learned, usually leads to overeating anyways), I do something else…

Listen to my hunger and satiety signals. This is the crux of intuitive eating. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. For me, I had to get rid of the scale and all the negative thinking that went along with it to actually be able to listen to my body. I also started being able to listen to other things my body was telling me, which I had often responded to before with food. Boredom, tiredness, anxiety, these were all things I became increasingly aware of.
In addition to this increased mindfulness, there were two other things besides the scale that had to go to really help my intuitive eating…

I stopped counting calories. Calories were like the scale for me, not helpful! I would always have a restrictive number in my head that I didn’t want to go over for the day. Since it was restrictive, I would usually go over. If not that day, probably the next. Once I gave up this “calorie goal” and started trusting my body to tell me what it wanted, life got SO MUCH EASIER.

At first I thought, oh my gosh, I am going to get SO fat! But, if you think about it…does your body want you to be fat? No! Of course not. Your body wants to feel good, be energized, move with ease and live life to the fullest. Does that include being overweight? Definitely not. Once you let go of the control that goes along with calorie counting, restrictive diets, or weight obsession, and just trust your body..amazing things will happen. I promise. You will not become overweight, you will not even gain weight most likely, you WILL feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders, and you WILL feel better about your body. I promise!
This was not an overnight transformation. I started with a basic plan provided to me by a nutritionist that didn’t include calories (it focused on food groups instead). And within a few weeks I was able to keep calories out of my head for the most part. I also learned, that, as an active person, I need a lot of nutrients to keep me going! I learned to embrace this as well, with delicious meals and snacks, instead of being scared of what I thought was a “lot” of food. I actually found that I ended up eating less because I wasn’t binging due to deprivation and restriction.

Along with counting calories, I decided to stop restricting foods that were kept in the house or that I didn’t allow myself to eat.

I took all foods off the “bad” list. This was a step taken later on in my journey. Ditching the scale and calorie counting were enough for me to take on at the beginning. But I slowly introduced formerly “bad” foods into my diet. Peanutbutter? Yes please! Ice cream? Bring it on! When I gave myself these things with full permission, I did want to eat larger quantities at the beginning. But when it really sunk in that I could have these foods whenever I wanted and I could have how much I wanted, I wanted them less frequently and in smaller quantities. That’s the beauty of listening to your body. It will only ask for how much it needs, when it needs it.
Now, you might be wondering…What if I want to lose weight through intuitive eating? Good question! I personally, am not at a point right now where I have a goal of weight loss. I by no means am a stick figure, but I am happy with my body! I know that if I listen to my body and trust what it tells me, I will stay in a happy place with my weight. If you want to lose weight, take into account the following:

• Don’t adapt changes you can’t do forever.

The ups and downs of fad dieting will mess with your metabolism and most likely cause stress. You don’t need this! You will be happier and healthier, with slow and sustained changes.

• Why do you want to lose?
For many, the weight is not about the weight. Just like food is not really about food. Food can be used to cope with sadness, stress, boredom…and the list goes on! Same with weight. Losing weight won’t solve life problems. If you want to lose a few pounds to feel better and more energetic, then intuitive eating (not restricting!) can get you there. If you want to lose weight because you think life will be easier that way, life will still be the same regardless of that extra weight. Using weight and your body instead of facing other issues isn’t usually successful (trust me, I know from experience!).
• Restriction is not the answer!
Be kind to yourself and make sure you are giving your body the energy and nourishment it needs! You will feel better and be happier that way.
Since this post has now gotten a little long, I will wrap it up. Hopefully some of this was helpful to you, and if you ever have questions about my journey or tips/advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to me ( Just remember, listen to your body. You will become more confident and accepting of yourself if you just trust and listen. Let me know how it goes!

1 comment:

  1. Everyone says that gaining weight is so easy….can someone give me tips plzzzzzzzz