When I first began recovery I couldn’t eat a meal without thinking about, calculating, & analyzing was in it.
How many calories?
Grams of Fat?
Is this a “balanced” plate, with grains, fruit, veggies, & protein?
Is there too much fat?
Will this meal make me fat?
My eating disorder didn’t allow me to eat freely or to listen to my body. My meals were determined by anything and everything but my own hunger signals. It got to the point where my hunger and fullness signals began to feel the same. I could eat one bite of a meal and feel “full”. In contrast, I could eat a hearty and sufficient meal with dessert and feel “hungry” a few minutes later. My metabolism was all messed up and I could no longer “just eat” for myself.
I started off with a meal plan that required me to meet “minimums” each day. I had to eat a certain number of complex carbs, proteins, fats, and “additional foods for enjoyment.”
The list terrified me. The thought of eating an entire bagel with strawberry jelly for “enjoyment” was frightening.
But I wanted to get better, so I ate.
With each meal my body began to heal & get stronger.
At first it hurt, a lot. Physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
But I knew I had to follow my meal plan and trust my recovery team before I could begin eating intuitively.
Intuitive eating is based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods.
In theory, it sounds great, but for someone who has struggled with disordered eating patterns, it can be very difficult to move into this new concept.
It was only after months of hard work and practicing “good” (not perfect) recovery that I could start moving away from my meal plan and towards intuitive eating.
Intuitive, normal eating is imperfect, & that’s the beauty of it. My dietitian often refers to it as “structured chaos”.
Intuitive eating is going to a restaurant and ordering what you really want, whether that be the southwest chicken salad or the cheeseburger with french fries. No foods are bad and nothing is off limits!
Intuitive eating is eating what makes your body feel good (not uncomfortably full, but satisfied enough to sustain you until the next meal or snack time).
Intuitive eating is having a diet that is full of a variety of foods, from fruits and vegetables to steak and an ice cream cone.
Intuitive eating is based off of what your body needs physically, not emotionally.
Intuitive eating looks at food for what it is: just food.
Intuitive eating has no rules or restrictions.
Intuitive eating looks different for everyone.
Last night for dinner I had a few slices of Herb Chicken Mediterranean Pizza from Papa Murphy’s (highly recommend), 2 kiwis, & some almond milk and chips ahoy cookies for dessert.
Last summer I never would have imagined that I would be in a place where I felt comfortable eating a meal that seems like such an odd combination.
I never imagined eating pizza without salad.
I never imagined eating cookies without calculating the number of calories in each of them.
I never imagined a day where I could accept my body for how God made it, & eat food that would satisfy me nutritionally, physically, and psychologically.
I never imagined that I could make peace with food.
I never imagined that I could live in so much freedom.
But I do.
It isn’t perfect. I still have to fight off unhealthy thoughts and be intentional throughout the day. But I am in a place that I never in a million years thought I could be in.
You too can be in this place, whether you have struggled with disordered eating or are simply tired of dieting.
No more calorie counting.
No more food analyzing.
No more rules and restrictions.
Food is just food…it’s meant to give our bodies energy to live our lives and do what we love. When we understand this, it becomes easier to approach meals in the mindset of nourishing our bodies, rather than restricting or overindulging.
*If you are interested in beginning a journey towards intuitive eating, is best to work with a dietitian who understands and supports intuitive eating, rather than calorie counting and weight loss.
**If you struggle with an eating disorder/disordered eating patterns, you may not be able to read hunger/satiety cues very well. Individuals with disordered eating patterns require consistent nourishment without compensatory behaviors before he or she may be able to move into intuitive eating. Intuitive eating can only happen after physical + psychological stability, weight restoration, and cessation of restricting, binging, & purging behaviors. For this type of nutrition therapy, it is best to work with a registered dietitian who specializes in treating eating disorders. They will help you move into this place of healing and freedom.