Alright y’all, it’s time to check in about my intuitive eating experience so far. Spoiler alert: it’s so overwhelmingly positive. And weird. And messy. All at the same time.
When I first cracked open Tribole and Resch’s Intuitive Eating Workbook, I had no idea what to expect. I am often skeptical of “workbooks” because I tend to find them trite, inauthentic, and purely theoretical with no obvious real world application. This began with that exact tone. The first exercise is the “handwriting metaphor exercise”. Are you rolling your eyes cause I am for sure. Thankfully I did not have to wait long to get to the juicy stuff. The authors designed an assessment to allow you to objectively reflect on one’s beliefs and habits around food, diets, and internal body cues. This is the point at which I realized some of the inherent messages I’ve received and how I’ve interpreted them in daily practice around food.
Some beliefs I didn’t even realize I held, like “I trust my body to tell me when/what/how much to eat”. When I really thought about it, I became very anxious at the thought of allowing my body to dictate the time, type, and amount of food. I imagined that I would get my hooks into some “bad” food and never be able to stop. To my great surprise, that is the opposite of what is actually happening a month into this journey. And might I add that the introduction to diet culture, the research, the data that actually shows that people who diet regularly tend to weigh more than their counterparts who do not diet. Um…what? It’s true, friends. It’s also true that a diet is the only product on the market that is held blameless when it fails — instead, the blame is put on us. MIND BLOWN. Just that bit of information shook off some of the weight of diet culture (pun intended) that I’ve been carrying around since I was a child.
I’ve been practicing the very thing that baffled me at the onset: giving over what I thought of as control to the start of trusting my body to tell me what it needs. Folx, this shit actually works. Today was the first day that I thought maybe I actually CAN trust my body to tell me what, when, and how much to eat. At first I felt very unsure of my footing. Take out my ever present voice telling me I shouldn’t eat carbs, I shouldn’t eat sugar, I shouldn’t eat fast food, I shouldn’t eat past 8 PM, etc. for perpetuity, and I can trust my body for the first time in my life. I did not gorge myself on donuts or cookies, or fries. When I would normally eat two half stale cookies during meetings and trainings (because that’s the socially acceptable number according to these rules I didn’t even know I had) I glanced at the cookies and decided not to get one. I was also offered some of my favorite chocolate ever, Hello Dove’s, and I turned that down too. In such a natural, my body doesn’t want that right now, way. It was a liberating experience to honor my hunger and ignore the thoughts that said “you get only two cookies, so make them count”. When I didn’t limit myself to two cookies, I realized that I didn’t even want them. I don’t even like those damn Wal-Mart hard cookies. But when I told myself I can’t have that, or I can only have a certain amount, I would always choose the self imposed limit. Every time. Because I gave myself unconditional permission to eat whatever my body wants, whenever my body wants it, I turned down the opportunity to eat something that never really satisfied me. I knew I could reach for a cookie later if I wanted. So I didn’t want it.
Some may read that and think, OMG I want to do that plan so I can curb my need for x (insert “bad” food here), but dear reader, I would tell you that it’s not about restriction or limits or control. It’s about digging into our pasts, shoveling out the toxic diet culture inner voice and cultivating cues our bodies are giving us every day, several times a day. A cookie did not sound good, so I did not eat it. How simple yet profound is that?
I’ll keep you updated!