Monday, July 8, 2013

What is intuitive eating?

"Ready, set..."
"Just jump in..."
"Ready 1-2-3..."
"Just jump in, you'll be fine..."

Similar phrases have been uttered from my mouth over and over and over again this summer as our six year old is trying to learn to swim. She is a logical thinker who likes to know the exact outcome of any move along with possible ways it could go wrong. And for a six year old with a tendency to worry, learning to jump in the pool leaves lots of unknowns. So she hesitates. And hesitates. And hesitates. Slowly she's gotten her courage. Slowly she's been brave enough to put her face in the water. Brave enough to jump.

I've felt a lot like her lately with my writing. I'm afraid that my words won't be well received. I'm afraid that I'll make some big proclamation about a goal or a plan only to see it all crumble a month later. So I hesitate. And hesitate. Slowly I'm remembering, I write for me. The joy is in the writing. If others actually read, all the better. If others actually enjoy the words, I am beyond blessed. But that's just icing on the cake.


Wait, where was I?

Ah, yes. I've always been cautious about writing about a specific nutrition plan, aside from our trials with eating only whole foods. I'm afraid that I'll promote something that a month later I realize isn't the greatest plan. But I've also been wanting to share more about "Intuitive Eating." I'm going to stop hesitating. I'm going to write. I'm going to share from my experience about the book* and the ideas that have changed how I view food.

What is intuitive eating?
In my words, it's learning to listen to your internal cues for hunger and fullness. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you are full. Most of human history people have done this (that is, when food was actually available). Yet largely due to the marketing of foods, foods that are designed to eat beyond fullness, and chronic dieting, we've completely lost touch with hunger. We either constantly eat and never really feel hungry or restrict our eating to the point where we ignore our hunger. We eat out of habit. We eat out of emotion. We restrict out of guilt. Often times our hunger and fullness cues are so blunted by ignoring them we have no idea when we are hungry or full. Intuitive eating is learning to listen to those cues and can be helpful both for those who chronically restrict food to the point of ill health to those who constantly overeat for a variety of reasons.

It's no small coincidence that we as a society are dealing with both overeating and under-eating. Even those at a "normal" weight often cycle between times of restricting ("dieting") and times of overeating, often after a diet or before gearing up for the next one. Been there? I have. It's an unhealthy merry-go-round and I wanted off. I was regaining weight and had started looking for the next plan...the one that would hopefully be the holy grail of all things skinny. But I also knew the statistics that no matter the plan, people fell off more often than they were able to stay on. Chronic dieting is the biggest predictor of weight GAIN (yes) and also is more likely to lead someone to a clinical eating disorder. Why would I continue to engage in something (dieting) that had a better chance of doing harm than achieving a healthy outcome?  So I looked around and found the few intuitive eaters I knew. Saw how they never obsessed over food. They stayed a natural healthy weight for them. I wanted that. No obsession. Health.

So in March I bellyflopped into principle #1: "Banishing the dieting mentality."

*Information about intuitive eating can be found in the book "Intuitive Eating, 3rd Ed" by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch. I can't recommend the book enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment