The "THING" that got me hooked on Intuitive Eating - One dietitian's transition into sanity
When I decided almost 2 years ago to open a private practice after almost 13 years working as a dietitian in weight loss, I knew I needed a change, I couldn’t do it any longer. I'll save those details about why for another blog post, but for now, let’s just say that ethically, I was done. I knew I was done when I felt that I couldn’t be honest with my then 9 year old daughter about how mommy made people go on really strict diets that made them miserable so that they could change their bodies….that’s all I really needed, it was pretty clear.
But, what? What the heck could I give people that would actually be helpful to them, that I would feel really good about?
I had heard about Intuitive Eating for a while, liked what I heard and starting reading...the more I read the more I was compelled to read more and learn more, and that I did. For the next year I immersed myself in professional trainings and all things Intuitive Eating. The light bulbs started firing up and it all sounded great...on paper. I realized that if I was going to preach this, there was no doubt I had to do more than read and learn from others, but actually do. This is one of the things I tell my clients now, it is one thing to know something intellectually, it is a completely different thing to experience it, moment by moment.
One of the entry points into Intuitive Eating is getting in touch with hunger and fullness cues that our bodies give us. Of course IE is SO much more than that, but this is the way that I got hooked and so this is typically how I introduce people into this paradigm. When I started paying attention to these signals that were there ( that I hardly ever gave any credence to before), I couldn't believe the things that I learned about my eating behavior. While I never really looked at myself as a “dieter” I certainly has lots of “rules’ around eating and one of them, whether I realized it or not, was that when you eat, you eat until the hunger goes away…..but juuussssst barely. I thought I should be done eating when I didn't feel that tinge of hunger anymore, because, let’s be honest, if I felt real fullness, real satisfaction both physically and mentally that meant I was eating to much and what does it all come down to: I’m going to gain weight. Let me be clear here, none of this was conscious thinking, just something I internalized along the way….another blog post for another day.
When I ate this way, I got hungry again very quickly, I was thinking about food constantly, what I would eat, when I could eat, how I could make that feeling of hunger go away with as much “air food” as possible ( think popcorn, veggies, etc). I didn’t even realize it, but I was trying to trick my hunger and at the same time I felt like I was eating all the time. I needed to graze all the time, it felt chaotic and it was annoying and it was exhausting. All of this mental energy around food and I genuinely thought something was wrong with me. Looking through the lens of Intuitive Eating I finally realized, nothing was wrong with me...I was HUNGRY! Now looking back I realize this is what was driving my constant food thoughts, planning and plotting where , what and how I would eat. I felt obsessed. But this is what your body does when you are not giving it enough of what it needs. It seems so simple now, but it was mind blowing to me at the time, that when I “allowed” myself to experiment with eating past this barely not hungry anymore stage and eat real meals, I literally stopped obsessing about food, I went hours without thinking about food, I slowly started trusting that my body, if I paid attention, would guide me to how much, when and what to eat rather than that proper portion size that I put on my plate or that 200 calorie snack ( not that I was counting), that should have tied me over until dinner but never did.
This was the start, the entry point...I learned so many other things along the way. Most of the people I work with have had these small but really significant epiphanies about their eating behavior. One of the most common descriptions that I hear my clients say after taking one of my group classes or working one on one together is that they have a sense of peace around food, finally.
Let me help you bridge the gap between knowledge and experience. If you are interested in learning more, contact me and we can chat, or go ahead and click below and get on the interest list for one of my upcoming group classes.