Trusting Myself–Thoughts on Intuitive Eating

A few weeks ago I listened in on a tele-seminar that Dineen did.  Dineen is all about the intuitive eating.  I’ve been thinking about the concept ever since.  Of course, intuitive eating appeals to the foodie* in all of us.  It says, no foods are forbidden.  Eat just exactly what you want when you want it.  Eat foods you really love.  Eat for the pure pleasure of eating.  And my thought was, ‘hmmmph, that’s how I got to be 255 pounds.’  I wasn’t a binge eater.  And really, most of the time I did not stuff myself.  But I did eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.

Now, to be fair, Dineen started off the seminar talking for quite a long time about the first component of intuitive eating:  hunger.  Really being aware of your hunger.  Recognizing true hunger.  Allowing yourself to be hungry.  This is the part of intuitive eating that us foodies tend to forget about.  But I’ve been thinking about being hungry and actually practicing letting myself get hungry before eating (sometimes) for a while now.

So I wondered.  Could I trust myself to eat ‘what I want’ and not count calories like I have been doing for so very long?

I talked to Vicky about it.  What was her take on ‘intuitive eating?’  ‘Well,’ she said, ‘part of eating what you want and eating what pleasures you is eating really good food that is also good for you and nourishes you.  Food that tastes good while you are eating it, and makes you feel good after you have eaten it.’  And I think that if I read the book on intuitive eating that that would also be a big part of their ‘program.’  And I agreed with this.  Lots of times now, I WANT the healthy alternative.  LIke last week, when I was thinking about what I really wanted for dessert, and I thought about that lone piece of pie in the freezer left over from Christmas.  But I decided what I really wanted was some cottage cheese and fresh strawberries.

But here’s the thing.  This intuitive eating thing would never have worked for me from the get go.  Because I would not ever have thought that cottage cheese and strawberries was something worth eating.  After all, I had strawberries with heavy cream and powdered sugar on them.    And I for sure would not have looked forward to an afternoon coffee with a lo-bar.  Not when I knew how to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and had them on hand at all times.  And I would never have thought tonight’s dinner was something that would satisfy–not when I could have a sweet potato covered in melted butter as a side dish to fried fish.

Tonight's dinner: Half a baked sweet potato with laughing cow light (I would leave this off next time) covered with a saute of brocolli, mushrooms, onions, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Very filling and very tasty.

So the intuitive eating thing, I don’t think it will work unless you have a whole arsenal of healthy meals/snacks/recipes under your belt.  But I do have that now.  So last week, I wasn’t doing my Vicky food any more, and I had two days of work scheduled.  I wasn’t particularly prepared.  But knowing what it takes to keep me fueled, I made a little plan:  500 calories before noon, 250 calories for lunch, 100 calories afternoon snack, 200 calories drive home, and 250 calories when I get home.  The 250 calories when I got home was an idea Vickie gave me since I was having trouble eating after I got home from work even though I was not hungry.

So I know this plan includes calories, but its a process.  When I say a calorie count, I pretty much have a very good idea of a variety of food choices within that range.  I tried to include protein with each meal, along with a balance of fiber and some good fats.  I have to say this worked really really well.  It helped that there was no food in the breakroom!

Yesterday and today I have tried to do the intuitive eating, and really pay attention to my hunger.  I have to admit that even though I am not writing it down, I count up the calories NUMEROUS times during the day.  I think it will take me a while to get away from counting calories.  I’m not even sure I want to.  But this is an interesting experiment.  I am having some foods I might not otherwise indulge in, and I am letting myself get a little hungrier before eating.  I am thinking more in terms of maintaining my weight for this experiment, rather than hoping for a weight loss.

Regular stuff update.  I am getting a lot of walking in.  The little guys think they want to go for a walk now.  So yesterday I went on THREE walks with the dogs, in additional to a really challenging weights workout at the gym.  Today I took it easy with just two nice medium walks with Noah.  I have been on a real cooking jag these past two days.  Tried Christina’s asian sesame-crusted chicken nuggets, which were quite enjoyable.  I think it would be a good addition to a stir-fry.  I made my own Shrimp Ceviche, and this time added some jicama–quite good also.  Made some homemade yogurt and strained it to make Greek yogurt.  Well, made some other stuff, but that’s enough for now.

Doggie update and questions answered:  Noah is fascinated by Mr. Monk, and Mr. Monk tolerates his nosing and sniffing for a little while and then gets up high away from him.  But it is going well.  Sophie and Mr. Monk occasionally share a blanket!  Mr. Monk weighs between 18 and 21 pounds, depending on whose weighing him.  He is a real sweetheart and has fit in so easily around here I can hardly believe it.  He follows me around, and wags his whole body when he is excited to see me.  I think it is good for Sophie to have another ‘little person’ in the house.  She seems not to be so obsessive about food and other stuff.  I think Noah weighs 65 pounds now.  We will see this Friday.  He has his appointment to get neutered!

Gratuitous Noah shot:

Noah eats a young pine tree.

Hope all is well with everyone.  Back to work tomorrow–see you in a day or two.

*foodie:  one who loves food and finds pleasure in the flavors, colors and textures of food.

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15 thoughts on “Trusting Myself–Thoughts on Intuitive Eating

  1. I understand that appeal of this. And I think it is very effective for those that under eat – the anorexic end of eating disordered behavior. To get in touch with hunger.

    But for me myself – I would be very fat indeed if I did this how most (overweight end of eating disorders) interprete it. Because I would end up back with too many carbs – and I would gain weight.

    I do not count calories – but within healthy foods – and within food groups – think of what sounds good. What protein sounds good? What healthy carb (whole food) sounds good? And mostly – what combination of veggies sound good. So I am filling my categories with servings and with whole foods. But I am SO NOT thinking – what ‘in the whole wide world’ sounds good.

    • I didn’t know that you didn’t count calories, Vickie. Because you are always so considerate to list all the calories when you post a food or recipe on your blog.

      I think I agree with you. And I didn’t state that very well. That was the part of ‘trusting myself.’ That I wouldn’t choose anything in the whole wide world, but would choose within that range of healthy choices that I know are best for me.

  2. I tried the Intuitive Eating things a long time ago to lose weight. I gained 15 pounds. It was because I was eating whatever I wanted, and I would conveniently forget about that whole waitng-for-hunger thing! But I think that it would work like you said – making sure you have healthy choices to choose from. Keep us posted on the experiment!

    So glad that Monk is fitting in nicely with the family! Noah looks so mischievious! Love him!

  3. This was a very thoughtful post Debby, and sums up a lot of how I feel about IE. I do not trust myself to completely do it, but there are days now where I do not record my food. Not that I eat really intuitively on those days, because I pretty much eat the same things I always do. I have trouble with hunger, because I get hunger very easily, it seems. Stomach rumbling hunger, and I can’t give in every time or I would be consuming 2800 or more calories without thinking about it. That’s okay on a 30 mile bike ride day, but not on a work day where I am sitting on my butt LOL!

    I have a huge fear of gaining back my weight. And I actually don’t mind calorie counting. I kind of like it, actually. I like the concrete, and recording gives me something to look back at when I have a successful (or not so) week.

    • Yes, that ‘s the new camera. All of the recent pics are the new camera. Some of them are a little blurry. I think I just need to learn how to use the camera a little better.

  4. Hey there, just found your blog today and would really encourage you to check out a post on my blog called “I’d never stop eating”. I have been in the process of learning to eat intuitively for three years and have been down a long and hard road but in the end, this is the only way for me.

  5. I’ve been trying out intuitive eating, and I’m thinking that perhaps it is not so much something one just starts doing and getting it right; rather, it’s a process. I’m just feeling kind of wary about the process…as in, how much could I potentially gain trying to learn to get it right? Like you say, one has to get in touch with and be okay with feeling hungry. That said, while I trust myself to make good choices with the “what” part, I’m not doing so well with the “how much” part. I started tracking again today, mainly because it helps me plan and with being aware. (And because sometimes the act of having to track is more onerous than shoveling in another handful of nuts.)

    • Good comment, Pubsgal. And I like the new word onerous. I think i need to re-write this post. I’m frustrated a little bit, because I used a lot of words and I don’t really think I said what I meant to say.

  6. I find that intuitive eating does work for me – now. It didn’t in the past, but then again, I was eating a lot of junk. I can maintain with it, but I still want to lose, so I’m back to doing a food journal and counting calories. I don’t think that will ever really end, so long as I want to keep the weight off. And that’s ok.

    How perceptive that Sophie is liking having another dog her size around. She must be thinking “yay – he can’t jump on the furniture without help, either!”

    Love Noah’s picture – puppies are so funny!

    • Yes, the change in Sophie is really for the better. And I think they might just become friends soon. I left them together in the kitchen while I was at work today. I had visions of one or the other being a bloody mess when I got home, but there they were, standing right next to each other, wagging their tails like mad. It made me feel so good!

  7. any hope on my part for intuitive eating was shot a long time ago…but you look pretty normal, so I think It may work for you.
    My best hope is to get up a bunch of meals I like and know the calorie count of, and then eat those.
    Anything new I am going to have to measure and figure out and keep within a certain spectrum. I admire people who give this whole intuitive eating thing a go, cause I think it is actually HARDER than counting. Thanks for you kind comment on my blog.

  8. I believe that Intuitive Eating is the best learning tool to normalize eating. However, for anyone with a significant amount of weight to lose or who is coming from the point of bingeing and out of control eating, it is too subtle of a concept to grasp and apply without feeling lost quite a bit. It is very difficult for the obese to tell the difference between hunger and appetite. It is also difficult to feel comfortable trusting the guide of hunger cues, when seeking pleasure from food always meant unrestricted eating, which in turn mean no limits.

    I had 150 pounds to lose (down 54 pounds to date) and use calorie counting as my “prescription” to lose weight. I see it as a correction to my years of overeating. Obviously I am not very intuitive, as I became obese. lol. I have no restricted foods, I don’t obsess over fat, carbs or protein. I use a nutritional software that I enter everything in once a day, and practice IE techniques like waiting to eat until really hungry, paying attention to the smell of the food, tastes, textures and how I feel during and after eating. I also practice portion control by using small bowls and plates and even small utensils.

    I don’t think the weight loss journey has to be an all inclusive one way, one diet….whatever. There’s so many excellent tools to use that can help along the way. When I have lost all of my weight, I am hoping my “controlled” method of IE will be my main focus for maintenance. Perhaps I will have gained trust of myself by then, perhaps I will always have the tendency to over indulge. Whatever it takes to maintain, is what I will do and I will be open to new techniques and new ideas.

  9. Pingback: To Clarify « debby weighs in

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