Intuitive Eating – A New State of Mind
I don’t want to start off this blog by saying, “I’m on a weight loss journey” or “I’ve started my weight loss journey” because honestly that shit has already started. In my opinion, which is the only opinion that matters when it comes to my “journey” into healthily eating, is that I started becoming more aware of health and fitness and good nutrition about 5 years ago.
5 years! Wow, that seems like such a short amount of time compared to how long I’ve been on this earth but also long enough for me to learn what works for me and what doesn’t. Let’s be honest, I haven’t been focused the entire time. That should be rather obvious to anyone who has interacted with me in the last 5 years but reflecting on this time is also allowing me to compare what I knew 5 years ago to what I know today and smile at the progress I’ve made, mentally, spiritually and physically.
Yes, there’s still more to know and experiment with and yes, I do have an “ideal state” I’m trying to reach and, also yes, I want to be more comfortable in my own skin but with all those exceptions I feel really happy where I’m am at right now and the attitude I have towards health and nutrition.
A New State of Mind
With all that said, I did start a new program to refocus my energy towards feeling better about my body and eating more nutritionally. I think everyone goes a little overboard around the holidays but for me this year, it was even more overboard it seems.
I just got back from a trip to Oregon for three and a half weeks which was awesome to see all my friends and family but it forced me to eat out almost every meal every day. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I totally overate trying to cram in all the foods from all the places I miss going to with friends and family.
So when I got back home I felt like garbage and wanted to refocus on my nutrition and fitness again.
In doing so It’s made me reflect on the relationship I have with food. I’m struggling on how to explain it exactly so I’ll just dive in with my initial thoughts.
1) I don’t want to go on a “diet.” I hate the social stigma that comes with “dieting” or “going on a diet” as well as the constant obsession of what you can’t eat or how many calories you should be eating.
2) I want to eat what I want within moderation. If I want a beer or a slice of pizza or maybe some gummy worms, I want to be able to work that into my nutrition for the day.
3) I want to fix my relationship with food and the late night binges. I’m not sure if “fix”is the correct approach but what I mean is to better understand my relationship with food and make changes to avoid overeating and over-consumption.
My Relationship with Food
Focusing on food is way more than what I’m eating. It’s the relationship I have with food and the thought process that goes into deciding what I put into my body. Thousands of Americans are overweight, myself included, and ultimately it comes down to the WHY in “why people eat what they eat?”
Now, I’m not here to attempt to solve the world’s problems, but for me, the WHY is the most important aspect of deciding WHAT to put in my body. “Why do I want Twizzlers and beer?” vs. “Why do I want leafy greens with chicken pieces and delicious vinaigrette dressing and flakes of cheese?”
And what I have learned about myself is that I need both. I need the flexibility to eat what I want within moderation and not limit my mind on what I can or cannot put into my body.
This way of thinking, which I’m learning has many names like “flexible dieting” or “intuitive eating”, is still very new to me and I’m in its infancy of exploration but I’ve already started to discover HOW I can put this into action. The first thing to do is to wait to eat until I’m hungry. I know this sounds basic but remember what I said about the WHY? I want my “why are you eating?” question to be answered by “because I’m hungry.” Therefore, I’m trying to wait and assess my level of hunger before I decide what to eat. So far that strategy is working.
I’ve learned to recognize when I’m bored and want to eat vs. when I’m hungry and want to eat. And I got to tell ya, I’m bored a lot! It’s exciting for me to figure out what else I can do with my moments of boredom. What else can I create or impact in those moments that for years I’ve been filling up with eating? This is reminiscent of the time I quit smoking and discovered how much time I actually wasted on smoking. And I was happy to make use of that extra time just as I will be happy to make use of this new found boredom time.
Next step is to decide what I’m going to eat. I tend to eat healthily and buy good quality foods based on previous learning of what’s good for me, how I feel after I eat it, and what I like or don’t like. I take the time to think about what meals I want to make for the week and have those grocery items on hand for when it comes time to make it.
Meal planning or meal preparation or whatever you want to call it is essential for me to decide what I’m eating when my body is hungry and something I’ve been doing off and on for years.
Learn and Listen
But what I’m still learning and discovering about myself is why I have cravings for specific foods. I crave sugar and sugary foods when I’m hungry (or bored). Like I’ve gone past the point of being hungry where a small amount of food is enough to satisfy my appetite to the point of ravenous like “give me anything now and I will destroy it!” hungry. That also seems to be the time when I overeat and feel like crap after bingeing on whatever I can find.
So I’m trying to learn to listen to when my body is hungry in the early stages so I can avoid the binge and excess sugar temptation. But balance that way of thinking with allowing myself a cup ice cream or piece of candy if that’s what my body wants.
So far I can tell you, I’m excited to continue with this program which I intend to continue with and evolve just as I have with other programs over the last five years.
I want to make more positive steps knowing there isn’t an endpoint I’m trying to achieve but rather a feeling of daily success that I want to make habitual.
Please share or comment below if you too struggle with nutrition and eating in moderation. I would love to connect with similar minded people.