Intuitive Eating: Win.

Learning to undo years and decades of body-abusing diets and replacing the mentality “No! I will tell my body what it wants; NOT the other way around!” is certainly not easy.  “You must unlearn what you have learned…” but there is no guidebook out there for how to turn around and try to go BACK to a time when you automatically did what your body wanted from you.  When you cried out for food when hungry and were fed; when your body knew what was best AND YOU LISTENED!  That time seems like part of a long-ago science fiction fantasy when you’re faced with the every day reality of actually avoiding those long-ingrained habits of substituting “good” foods for what you desire.  How will you EVER learn to listen and then, even harder, to UNDERSTAND what it is your body NEEDS and how to fulfill it?

This is the mental struggle I find going on in waves of fluctuating intensity now as I wean my body from my own mental control and learn to live WITH this amazing body of mine instead of fighting against it in the vain hope that I can shape it into something it would never become…

And yet, last night, I felt that perhaps one more puzzle piece fit into place.  One small corner edge of this process was filled in and now holds together what I’ve been learning (or rather re-learning) about how my own body works.

I was feeling rotten.  Crampy, achy, “Midol-just-made-it-worse” style weariness all laid over some stress and hunger.  Making dinner seemed a daunting task.  Again that dreaded question: “What do I want?”  Without that “We’ll take away the need for you to THINK ever again” quality of lifestyle change programs to guide my choices I had to fall back on plain old self-analysis mixed with a review of current fridge contents.

All I DID know was that I wanted beef.  So I walked myself from that thought in baby steps, feeling my mental way with a few other leading questions.  What kind of beef? Ground beef.  What texture? How cooked? Fried up with onions and garlic.  With what? Over….something.   But what?  Pasta?  Mix it with some tomatoes might work but…no.  No.  I don’t WANT pasta.  What do you want? Rice!  Mmmm rice.  Ooo!  And we still have asparagus too; I can add that to the top of the rice steamer.  Okay, good, good.  But that beef.  What are we doing with that?? You vetoed the tomatoes, remember?  Oh yeah.  And I still cut them up.  I’ll take them for lunch tomorrow.  But tonight…ooh let’s add mushrooms!  Yeah and…!  Gravy.  Yes!  That’s perfect.  The right blend of salty, beefy, rice and crisp steamed asparagus….yum!

And while it took about 8 times longer to type than it did to think that out; the importance of that moment was not lost on me even last night.  This afternoon as I finished the leftovers for lunch and munched the (sadly not locally ripe) tomatoes I again marveled at my body’s amazing way of telling me what it needs because now I feel wonderful.  Not crampy (despite eating the dreaded SALT before/during my period), not achy…hmmm maybe my body does know what it needs.  I just need a few more courses in “Body-ese” so I can accurately translate all the time.

And that, for me.  Is a moment of win.

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7 thoughts on “Intuitive Eating: Win.

  1. I can relate to this on so many levels. Intuitive eating has been a struggle for me… so many years of programming myself to eat as little as possible and then later binge has screwed up my internal hunger cues… sometimes I worry if it’s beyond repair. There are days where 3 in the afternoon rolls around and I realize that all I’ve had is two cups of coffee. Slowly but surely I’m learning to listen to not only WHAT my body wants & needs, but how often it wants & needs it.

  2. Awesome, just awesome! I know how much work it can take to even get to the point where you are able to figure out what you want faster than you could type it… my guess is that you have a lot to be proud about.
    I love how you phrased that bit about weaning the body off of mental control. I think that is a really amazing way to frame it. I’m also trying to wean my body off of mental control… but my life in general as well. If I let myself, I could think myself into complete paralysis.
    Thanks for the post…. it has given me a lot to think about and I hope you are giving yourself some loving pats on the back for your IE win!

  3. Jasie – I’m also still working on the how often bit. The mental block of “No, you have to wait until lunch” when I’m hungry an hour before is a tough nut to crack but I’m slowly getting there and have learned I love a bit of cheese at 10:30 in the morning!

    Angrygrayrainbows – Thanks! ^^ Letting that need for mental control of EVERY bit of our lives is really hard to relax on; I hear you on thinking yourself into paralysis! Small steps, right? 🙂

  4. I really like the way you describe the joy of normal eating.

    The fact that we need to call it ‘intuitive’, goes to show just how deeply we’ve mislead on how eating works.

    As you yourself said:

    I again marveled at my body’s amazing way of telling me what it needs..

    That is the most salient point, our bodies are designed to tell us what they need, our job is not to ‘control’ but to interpret and respond to the best of availability-and our ability.

    When you see the difference between the joy of eating you describe, and the monstrous dysfunction that can be the alternative, you can begin to see, going from the former to the latter is enough to induce depresssion and melancholy, in and of itself.

    • wriggles that could explain some of why after that first initial “diet flush of happy” it is so quick to fall into something dreaded and sad and just overall awful !

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