Posts tagged: Intuitive Eating

Au Revoir, Hunger! What the French Language Can Teach Us About Intuitive Eating

By Katie, 5:45 am

Ah, the French. They have given us so many wonderful things.

Like French toast.

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And French onion soup.

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There’s the French horn.

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And the French press.

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Can’t forget the French kiss.

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And, of course, French fries. ;-)

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Our culture has often admired envied the eating habits of the French. “How can they eat all that butter and still stay so slim?!?” we exclaim. I won’t go into that question here – considering a whole book has been written on the topic – but I will propose that the actual French language has something to teach us about intuitive eating.

More specifically, about how to stop eating when satisfied – after the sensation of hunger but before the sensation of stuffed.

In Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, he notes the interesting fact that English speakers and French speakers use different wording when they push their chairs back from the dining table. We tend to say the phrase “I’m full,” while the French say, “Je n’ai pas faim,” which translates to “I do not have hunger.”

It’s a subtle but extremely insightful difference: “I’m full” versus “I do not have hunger.” It’s the difference between eating to quell a physical need for fuel and eating to fill ourselves up to the brim.

I’m not trying to imply that there’s anything wrong with eating to the point of feeling full. I’m saying that when I eat for the purpose of being filled, it’s often because of an emotional need rather than a physical one. But when I eat for the purpose of eliminating hunger, I know I am in tune with my body’s cues.

I’ve found that, when I sit down at the table with the intention of eating intuitively, thinking about the French phrasing is a helpful way to judge when I am satisfied but not stuffed. I don’t ask whether or not I’m full (because for me, that usually means too full), but whether or not my hunger has been abated, whether or not that sensation is still present.

And when I follow that guideline – stopping at the point of “Je n’ai pas faim” - I am able to pop up from the table and go about my day. I feel energized, and I welcome movement. When I’ve ignored that guideline in the name of filling myself with food rather than whatever it is I really need, I feel tired and sluggish, and the couch looks much more appealing than anything else.

I find it amazing how that small change in wording can connote such a different mindset toward the eating experience. It’s enough to make me want to up and move to Paris! Just kidding, Mom, don’t worry! ;-)

Bon appetit!

Do you ever struggle with the fine line between eating until satisfied and eating until stuffed? Do you think reminding yourself of the French phrasing could be helpful?

AND, just for fun…

Do you speak any French? I studied French in high school and college, but what I remember is really hit-or-miss at this point.

Is Intuitive Eating for Everyone?

By Katie, 5:36 am

For all of the jabbering I do about the principles of Intuitive Eating, you’d think it was the holy grail of eating.

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My wholehearted endorsement of it might have you worrying that I spend my weekends hanging out on street corners, handing out Intuitive Eating pamphlets to any innocent soul who will take one. :roll: I can assure you that I don’t, for many reasons…one of which is that I have given considerable thought to this question: Is Intuitive Eating appropriate for everyone?

Honestly, a year ago I might have unquestioningly said “YES!” But then I started writing posts like “The Great Scale Debate,” in which many commenters noted that they find things like scales and calorie-counting to be helpful in their legitimate attempts to lose weight in a healthy way. It reminded me that while many of us struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food, not everyone does. Not even every woman does.

So I’m going out on a limb and saying that no, Intuitive Eating is not necessarily the best approach for everyone. Or at least it’s not the best approach for everyone all the time, at all stages of their lives. Having said that, I do believe that Intuitive Eating…

  • is the most natural way to eat, in that it focuses on stripping away the external cues to focus on the internal ones. It teaches us to listen to our bodies instead of labels, ourselves instead of magazines.
  • is worthwhile for anyone who finds that food is more than just food - anyone whose relationship with food is a bit rocky, who doesn’t simply eat to live. (Believe it or not, some people really do just eat to live, without any emotional attachment whatsoever. I know, it’s hard for me to comprehend too! ;-) )

So while you won’t find me holding up the principles of Intuitive Eating as if they’re the Ten Commandments, I do think that the idea has value for many people, particularly in our society where yo-yo dieting and perpetual weight loss is the norm. But just as Intuitive Eating urges us to figure out for ourselves how best to feed our bodies, so too we must each figure out if following the principles will or will not make a positive difference in our lives. If the first rule is that there are no rules, then we can’t make Intuitive Eating a rule for everyone either.

What do you think? Is Intuitive Eating worthwhile for everyone? For you?

Intuitive Eating: Tougher than a Diet

By Katie, 5:36 am

Today’s post is an extra-special one! I’m excited and honored to bring you this message from Christie, whose words of wisdom about making peace with food inspire me every day!

Hello, everyone! I am so excited to be here on Health for the Whole Self because, well, it is one of my very favorite blogs and I am delighted to be a part of it! My name is Christie; I’m a health and wellness coach specializing in changing the relationship that women have with food and their bodies. I’m also author of the intuitive eating blog, Honoring Health. On my blog you will find my insights into intuitive eating, emotional eating, holistic health as well as a heaping side of recipes. Today, I’d like to share with you a little about my path to wellness and hope that I can inspire you on yours!

When I started blogging three and a half years ago, I had no idea my life would change so dramatically. At the time, I thought I was in for the easy way out. I was tired of dieting, binging and starting over every single Monday. Honestly, I thought intuitive eating was going to be my magic pill.

It wasn’t.

At least not in that instant results and everything is wonderful kind of way.

It was, and still is, so much more work than any diet I was ever on. And I’ve been on every diet known to woman.

Before I found intuitive eating, I was a chronic yo-yo dieter and had been binging since I was a small girl. In my teens, I would stuff down boxes of Little Debbie cakes after school followed by hours of Jane Fonda.

I’m old.

Do you even know who Jane Fonda is?

Anyway, through the obsessive exercise and teenage metabolism, I maintained a healthy weight though I always thought of myself as fat. By the time I was in my mid 20′s, I was 220lbs and miserable but I never really realized that I had an issue with food. I had no awareness of what I was doing, why I was doing it or even that I weighed so much. And then one day, I saw myself in a mall mirror and didn’t recognize who I was and a day later, I joined Weight Watchers.

And what a love affair that was.

For the next couple of years, I dieted and binged, dieted and binged still completely unaware that I had some serious problems with food and my body. Eventually, I found intuitive eating and the rest, as they say, is kind of history.

Through the exploration of the principles of intuitive eating, I found myself under that layer of fat. I discovered that I had some deeply ingrained habits of using food, obsessive exercise and negative self talk as a way of coping with life. I had been suppressing all of my emotions for so many years, I had to re-learn how to think and, most importantly, how to feel. And once I learned to just be with my emotions instead of eating them, everything else sort of just fell into place.

Fast forward to now, I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been and I’m now helping women from all over the world learn to do the same. It wasn’t magic but it does feel kind of magical.

Stay in touch with me by visiting my blog or following me on twitter!

Questions from Katie:

Can you relate to Christie’s story?

AND

Do you know who Jane Fonda is??? :lol:

It’s My Party and I’ll Eat What I Want To

By Katie, 6:50 am

After attending not one but two 4th of July parties last weekend, I’ve realized just how far I’ve come in terms of food anxiety and social engagements. Yesterday I spent some time reflecting on the way things used to be, how much has changed, and the steps I currently take to make peace with picnics and potlucks.

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Now I’d like to share my story, along with five concrete steps I take to ensure that such social engagements are fun rather than stressful. I realize this post would have been more useful to you before the holiday weekend, but better late than never, right? :-)

The Before

Before I acknowledged that my issues with food, weight, and body image were indeed issues, family gatherings and social engagements involving food were, quite simply, difficult for me to enjoy. I spent most of them obsessing about what I was going to eat and not eat, avoiding the “bad” (but delicious!) foods like the plague, and then wondering why I compulsively raided my pantry the minute I got home. Or, conversely, I thew caution to the wind and used parties as an excuse to binge, eating continuously throughout the course of the entire event.

In either case, I was rarely mentally present at these events; while I appeared engaged in the company and immersed in conversation, deep down I was thinking about food. Period. :oops:

Enter Intuitive Eating

I hoped wished dreamed assumed all of these issues would simply resolve themselves when I began the process of learning to eat intuitively. Au contraire! 8-O Believe it or not, sometimes social engagements felt even more difficult because now I had all of these new, foreign guidelines to try to apply.

You see, eating intuitively was fine in the comfort of my everyday, structured life, where all of the pieces were well within my control. But parties – at least those where someone else is hosting – are generally filled with unknowns. What if I’m not hungry when it’s time to eat? What if I’m starving an hour before? What if none of the food options available are “singing” to me? What if they all are?

How do you listen to and honor your body when there are so many unanswered questions? :-?

Finding Balance

I wrestled with these questions for some time, experimenting with what works for me and what doesn’t. Then, once I figured out how to take the anxiety out of the situation, I practiced. And practiced. And practiced some more. And though all of that practicing certainly hasn’t made perfect, it has made some things that once seemed impossible now feel like second nature. :-) It wasn’t until after all of last weekend’s food-filled gatherings that I even realized I had gone the entire time food-anxiety-free!

Five Steps for Eating at Social Events

So how did I find that balance? Which steps did I practice over and over again? Here they are!

1. One thing at a time.

One of my biggest challenges is eating mindfully while in public, and yet it makes such a difference. Now I know people will think I’m crazy for suggesting you not mix eating and socializing, since that’s often what the entire gathering is about. But savoring my food is essential for preventing overeating, and I can’t do that very well if I’m holding an in-depth conversation at the same time. These days I make a point to focus on the food while I’m eating it, and then talk and socialize once I’m finished. (And no one has ever accused me of being anti-social while we’re eating – in fact, I don’t think anyone even notices!)

2. Eat with intention.

I try to eat foods because they appeal to me rather than simply because they’re there. Before making my plate, I’ll take a quick inventory of the entire spread to determine which choices I simply must have, and which I can stand to skip. Some people like to try a little bit of everything, but I’d much rather have a larger portion of the foods that are calling my name, and in return am willing to completely forgo those that aren’t.

3. Stay in the present.

Focusing on the present moment has been key to changing my experience at social gatherings. Before, as I mentioned, I would spend most of the time in this whole other world in my head; I was physically there but mentally on another (food-obsessed) planet.

Now I work really hard to stay in the present moment as much as possible. So when the present moment involves eating, I pay attention to that. But when the meal is over, I put all of my mental energy into the next activity or conversation, rather than continuing to think about food.

4. Break the rules.

I think some people (myself included, at one point) struggle with Intuitive Eating because they see it as just another set of strict rules to follow: only eat when hungry, always stop when pleasantly full, always eat what you’re craving, etc. But to me that is missing the point. Yes, we should strive to listen to our bodies most of the time, but we also must embrace a certain degree of flexibility (easier said than done, I realize!).

For example, at the picnic I attended on Sunday I enjoyed dessert along with everyone else: a nicely-portioned plate of fresh fruit, a brownie, and a scoop of ice cream. An hour or so later, as I was putting the leftover brownies into a Tupperware container, I decided I wanted another one. Not because I was hungry. Just because they were good.

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So I popped a small one into my mouth! 8-O While I was standing up! 8-O I didn’t bother putting it on a plate! 8-O And I was multi-tasking while I ate it! 8-O Intuitive Eating? Not exactly. A big deal? Nah!  :-)

Why was this not a big deal? Because of Step 5…

5. Move on.

Those of us who experience a lot of food-related anxiety need to accept that we often bring the drama on ourselves. But that’s actually a good thing, because it means that it’s within our power to let it go. We can choose to obsess over an extra brownie, or we can choose to forget about it and enjoy the rest of the day. 8-)

Like I said, conquering these five steps required a good bit of practice and a healthy dose of dedication. But I’m thrilled to say that most of the time I’m now able to view parties with excitement and enthusiasm rather than dread and anxiety. :-D

Have you ever experienced food-related anxiety at parties or social gatherings? How have you handled it? Have you tried or will you try any of these steps?

Without Judgment

By Katie, 6:25 am

When you first start reading about and practicing Intuitive Eating, you hear a lot about honoring your cravings and eating what you want. And I can certainly attest that taking all foods off of the DO NOT EAT list has made a big difference in my relationship with food and eating. But there’s a second part to that rule of thumb, an additional guideline that sometimes gets ignored, perhaps because it is significantly more difficult to accomplish.

Eat what you want…without judgment.

I bet a lot of you are nodding your heads right now, because you know what it feels like to “give yourself permission” to eat whatever it is that you want, only to feel overwhelming guilt afterward. That’s because – in a way very similar to the notion of pseudo-dietingsaying nothing is off limits and actually living out that principle are two very different things.

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But sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the two. Sometimes we think – we truly believe – we’re not judging ourselves when deep down we still are.  :-?

I’ve definitely found myself caught in the trap of No-I’m-Not-Judging-Myself-Oh-Wait-Yes-I-Am-How-On-Earth-Did-That-Happen??? Here are some of the signs I’ve seen in my life that judgment is present – even when I’m telling myself that it’s not.

Five Signs of (Subconscious) Judgment

1. Guilt

This is probably the most obvious one. If I tell myself that I can eat “full-fat” yogurt or cheese but then feel guilty after doing so, have I really given myself permission? :-?

2. Attempting to Undo the Act

Sometimes after I’ve honored my craving for ice cream or french fries or whatever, I find myself wanting to make sure that my next meal or snack is extra-nutritious to “make up for” my indulgence. But trusting my body means not trying to “undo” the so-called “negatives” in my food intake by restricting my future choices.

3. Ruminating

When I’m being true to my Intuitive Eating principles, I can eat anything I want and then move on with my life. But when judgment is present – even on a subconscious level – I find myself dwelling on my food choices throughout the day. I go over and over what I ate in my head, even hours afterward! :-( That kind of rumination is a sure sign of judgment.

4. Eating Mindlessly

When I am genuinely giving myself permission to eat what I want, when I want it, I have no problem eating mindfully – sitting down at the table, putting the food on a plate or in a bowl, and savoring every bite. But when the back of my mind is filled with judgmental thoughts about the food, my body, my choices, etc., eating mindfully is the last thing I want to do. Instead, I want to eat while watching TV, reading a magazine, or browsing the Internet…as if I’m trying to distract myself from what I am doing. I want to pretend that it’s not happening. If judgment weren’t present, would that feel so necessary? :-|

5. Eating Secretly

This is, perhaps, the reddest red flag that I have. When I’m judging my food choices – or, more accurately, judging myself based on my food choices – I tend to eat differently in private than I do in public. Probably because when I’m judging myself, I assume others are judging me too, and that totally freaks me out. 8-O So I wait until I am alone, and then I see it as “my chance” to eat whatever I want. Again, for me that’s a sure sign that I haven’t give myself genuine permission to honor my food cravings and desires; it’s a sign that it’s time for me to re-evaluate my connection to the basic Intuitive Eating principles.

This brings up another important point. When I say that part of healing myself and my relationship with food is being able to eat what I want without judgment, I’m not just talking about self-judgment. I also needed – and still need – to feel that those around me aren’t judging me either.

And you deserve that, too. That means that if you decide – truly giving yourself permission – to eat ice cream for dinner one night, or skip the reduced fat cheese in favor of the real thing, or whatever it is in your particular situation, you should be able to enjoy your decision in plain view of your spouse or your mom or your children or whomever is around when you’re eating. You shouldn’t have to feel like a common criminal when you’re eating, you know?

Of course, this requires two important steps. 1) Having supportive people in your life, people you can trust. 2) Having an open and honest conversation with said people about your relationship with food and the Intuitive Eating journey you’re embarking on – what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what you need from them, which is, basically, non-judgmental support.

If you’re finding yourself struggling on your Intuitive Eating journey, I encourage you to look inward, to question what’s going on in the deepest parts of yourself. You might find, like I have in the past, that judgment is present – even though you’ve said and thought and truly believed it wasn’t. But recognizing that it is there is the first step in getting rid of it for good. :-)

Have you found that one of the toughest parts of giving yourself permission to eat what you want is doing so without judgment? How do you deal with those judgmental thoughts?

Eating After Overeating

By Katie, 7:12 am

I hope I never give the impression on this blog that I have the whole emotional eating business totally under control. The truth is that I still struggle; it’s a battle I expect to fight for a long time. But with each encounter I face with the binge monster – regardless of whether I win or lose – I get a little stronger and a little smarter. And a little better at bouncing back. :-)

I received an email from a reader asking me to address the issue of post-binge eating. She wasn’t asking about how to handle the emotions that were covered up by the food, or how to manage the guilt that is so often associated with overeating. She simply wanted to know how to carry on when the next meal rolled around.

Her question is an extremely important one. I am convinced that how we eat after a binge – what we consume the next day – has a lot to do with whether we come back strong or end up overeating once again.

So what should one do the day after a binge? My answer is simple: RESUME REGULAR EATING.

You see, the old, weight-obsessed Katie would have spent the entire next day or week trying to “make up for” the overeating episode. Skipping a meal or snack. Denying my hunger. Only touching the safest, “healthiest” foods possible.

I’d drive myself mad trying to calculate and then cut the exact number of calories I had consumed in my emotional state. Which led to another emotional state, not to mention a hungry one. Which inevitably led to another binge. :-?

I have since learned that – at least in terms of one’s eating habits – the best thing to do after overeating is simply move on. Forget about it. Expunge the experience from memory. Because the game of trying to undo the overdoing is a never-ending one. Attempting to control the ever-tipping scales of overeating and under-eating will surely make you crazy.

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So instead, I say RESUME REGULAR EATING. That means waiting until you feel physical hunger once again (and you will, even if you swear you won’t), then eating what your body wants and stopping when your hunger is satisfied. No counting involved. ;-)

I have found that our bodies are amazingly resilient. If I truly listen to my body – instead of my mind – after overeating, it always naturally brings me back to a place of balance. It’s when my brain starts interfering with thoughts of weight and body image and emotional mumbo-jumbo that I remain off-kilter.

While I’m at it, I’ll say that I believe this rule of thumb holds true for exercise as well. The old Katie would use abuse exercise as a way to both “counteract” the food and punish herself. She would tack on some extra miles or push out another 30 minutes on the elliptical, even as her exhausted body screamed at her to stop. Today I try my hardest to follow the same rule as with eating: RESUME REGULAR EXERCISE.

Like I said, the emotional aspect of this is totally separate; it is very important to confront the emotional demons that led to the edible overdose in the first place. But in terms of the food, don’t bother with the compensation game. Instead, trust your body to do its job – restore you to equilibrium.

What’s your take on eating after overeating? Can you relate to the “old Katie” who attempted to compensate by under-eating and over-exercising?

When Cravings Collide

By Katie, 7:56 am

According to Merriam-Webster, to crave means to want greatly, to need, to yearn for, to have a strong or inward desire.

By that definition, I suppose I crave things like love, affection, and contentment. But when I use that particular word, it’s most often in reference to things like chocolate.

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I’ve posted before about my thoughts on cravings, particularly the idea that there are two different types – ones that come from your body, and ones that come from your taste buds.

In my previous post I wrote about the importance of distinguishing between the two because the way you handle a mental craving is different than the way you handle a physical one. But what do you do when you’re experiencing both…at the same time? 8-O

Here’s how it went down:

One morning last week after a particularly vigorous run, I entered my kitchen ravenous, desperate for breakfast. Per usual, I asked myself what I wanted to eat.

My taste buds’ answer was loud and clear: COLD CEREAL.

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But my body doth protest too much. Its answer was also loud and clear: PROTEIN. Mentally I knew I should have some protein after a workout like that, but it was mostly about my body – I desperately wanted that full, satisfied feeling that a protein-packed breakfast gives me. I just don’t get that from cold cereal (I can seriously just keep eating the stuff like it’s air!).

So what do I do? Follow my taste craving, or give my body what it wants? Basically, I was experiencing multiple cravings at the same time…and they were colliding. :-?

After a few seconds of hanging in limbo, I opted to ignore my taste buds. I opened my fridge and started pulling out foods that pack a protein punch, ending up with an egg and breakfast sausage sandwich on an English muffin. I definitely got the full feeling I was looking for, but not the refreshing, lightly-sweet crunch of cold cereal with milk.

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You probably won’t be surprised with how this story ends. That evening, hours and hours later, I found myself in the kitchen fixing a bowl of cereal. Except that I wasn’t truly hungry. And the bowl was overflowing. And “scarfed” would probably be the most appropriate verb to describe the manner in which it was consumed. :-(

It was like my subconscious was saying, “Do you really think I’m going to just sit back and let you deny yourself something you wanted?”

But I hadn’t denied myself out of a diet mentality, out of concerns over my weight. I was genuinely trying to satisfy one of my cravings (for a feeling of fullness) while also giving my body important nutrients. But doing so meant ignoring the other craving I was feeling at the exact same moment.

I wish I had some clear-cut answer, some pithy and memorable quote with which to end this post. But the truth is the only lesson I’ve learned is that listening to our bodies and honoring our cravings isn’t always a straightforward, uncomplicated process. Sometimes the best decision isn’t obvious, and that’s just part of the journey.

What would you have decided to eat for breakfast? Cereal? The egg sandwich? Some combination of the two? Something else entirely?

Have you ever experienced conflicting cravings? How do you handle it?

The Last Supper

By Katie, 7:39 am

No, not this Last Supper.

This Last Supper.

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Let me explain. Back in my dieting days (and I use the term “diet” very broadly to mean simply restricting or denying myself certain foods) I would often engage in one last hurrah before I began yet another weight loss attempt. I would go out with a bang, if you will, by eating all of the foods that – come tomorrow – would be strictly off-limits. In my case, that usually meant donuts. Several of them.

In their book Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch label my behavior Last Supper eating; they write that “it is triggered by the sincere belief that you will never get to eat a particular food again.” Sometimes my Last Suppers would last for one meal, sometimes for a few days.

I would literally think to myself, “I will start eating healthy tomorrow/on Monday/after vacation, so I better enjoy as much crap as I can before that time comes.” There are so many problems with that line of thinking; where do I begin?

  • First, it indicates that at the time I still truly believed that a diet was going to change my life. WRONG.
  • Second, it shows that I was still placing moral judgments and labels on food and myself. Salad = Good. Cookie = Bad.
  • Third, it demonstrates that I wasn’t thinking beyond the immediate future. Did I truly think that I would never eat a donut again in my life? All I could focus on was how “happy” I’d be when I was thinner in a few months, ignoring the fact that no one can (or should!) live a life completely devoid of sweet treats.
  • Fourth, it illustrates that I did not know how to enjoy foods in moderation. It was either the whole gallon of ice cream or none at all. (Yep, that’s right, I said gallon).

Here’s the good news. When I finally decided (genuinely, sincerely, deep down) to stop dieting forever, the need to engage in Last Supper eating just sort of melted away. I found I could stop after two cookies because I knew I could have another one tomorrow if I wanted. I no longer saw certain foods as evil, so I didn’t need to feel bad or guilty for enjoying them. And I was able to make changes that can be sustained over the course of a lifetime, rather than over the course of three or four months. Because, let’s be real, I wasn’t going to “resist” the cake and ice cream at every birthday party I attended for the rest of my life.

When you stop denying yourself the foods you love and crave – and instead recognize that they can be enjoyed in moderation – no supper ever has to be your last.

Have you ever engaged in Last Supper eating? Can you relate to my experience of “going out with a bang” before committing to “healthy” eating the next day/week?

For more reading on this topic, check out Margarita Tartakovsky’s post on the topic on her blog Weightless

Pseudo-Dieting

By Katie, 1:54 pm

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you probably already know how I feel about dieting. And if you don’t, this little graphic sums it up quite nicely.

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I won’t go into why I’m so anti-dieting because I’ve written about that before – if you want to read more, you can check out the post I wrote back in February on ditching the diet mentality.

Instead I’d like to discuss a little trap I’ve fallen into in the past: pseudo-dieting.

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch discuss the idea of pseudo-dieting in their classic book Intuitive Eating. They explain that pseudo-dieting is when we say we’ve given up on dieting, and yet still continue to hold on to certain dieting thoughts – which then usually sneak back into our lives in the form of dieting behaviors. Basically, pseudo-dieting means that what we say doesn’t always match up with what we think or what we do.

The authors give several examples of what pseudo-dieting can look like:

  • Meticulously counting calories, fat grams, etc.
  • Eating only “safe” foods.
  • Eating only at certain times of the day (like the notorious “No Eating After 6:00 PM” rule).
  • “Compensating” for eating certain foods (such as forcing yourself to exercise more after eating a piece of cake).
  • Restricting food intake in any way.

When I first started learning to eat intuitively, I definitely fell into the pseudo-dieting trap. For me, it manifested itself in the act of leaving a bite of food on my plate. I became obsessed with making sure I never finished everything, always leaving behind a nibble of my sandwich or a bite of my chicken.

The big problem with pseudo-dieting is that it’s usually unconscious; we often don’t even realize we’re engaged in it. I definitely didn’t. I honestly believed that leaving food on my plate all the time was a sign that I was listening to my body’s signals and stopping when I was full. The truth, however, was that I wasn’t listening to my hunger/fullness cues at all; rather, I was subjecting myself to yet another dieting rule, just under the mask of intuitive eating.

At first I denied this to no end. In fact, it took a tough-love conversation from Dave to make me really see what was going on. Once I accepted that I was indeed holding onto the diet mentality, even in a subtle or unconscious way, then I could begin to challenge those thoughts. Because deep down I knew that a life of dieting – even in disguise – was never going to work.

Pseudo-dieting is definitely still something I struggle with. It can creep up even when I have the best intentions, even when on the outside it looks like I’ve got the whole intuitive eating thing under control. The key for me is continually being self-reflective, continually challenging myself and my true motivations. Doing so allows me to say, with honesty and integrity, that I truly reject the diet mentality.

What do you think about pseudo-dieting? Have you ever struggled with it? Do you agree that it can easily creep into our lives, even when we have the best intentions?

What It Means to Honor Cravings

By Katie, 7:54 am

When I first began the process of intuitive eating, I focused on the question of when. I practiced listening to my body each and every day to determine when I was truly hungry and when I was pleasantly full. It didn’t take me too long to get the hang of it.

What was (and still is) significantly more challenging, in my opinion, is the question of what. I would know that I was ready to eat, but I had no idea what to eat!

On this blog I often use the phrase “honor your cravings.” But what the heck does that really mean??? And, if you’re truly honoring your cravings, how likely is it that you will eat chocolate and ice cream for every meal? :-?

I say not very likely. That’s because when I think about honoring my cravings, I make an important distinction between mental and physical cravings.

Mental Cravings

These are the cravings that are all in your head – the foods that your body doesn’t really need but you just can’t get out of your mind. They could also be called taste cravings. For example, ever since I saw some Dairy Queen deliciousness on a blog last week, I have been craving a Mint Oreo blizzard like mad. My brain just keeps reminding me, you want to eat that!!!

Physical Cravings

These are the cravings that come directly from your body. You want to eat something not so much because of the way it will taste, but more so because of the way it will make your body feel - refreshed, cleansed, energized, etc. Some say these cravings are actually the body’s way of getting us to eat the nutrients we’re lacking.

IMPORTANT POINT: Mental and physical cravings are not mutually exclusive; they most definitely overlap. By that I mean, you might have a physical, bodily craving for a Green Monster smoothie at the same time you have a mental, taste craving for the goodness that is spinach blended with fruit.  ;-)

So How Do You Honor Your Cravings?

I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but here’s my thought process.

- If I am having a very clear craving, I ask myself if it’s mental or physical. I usually honor it either way, but if it’s a mental craving I will make a special effort to slowly, mindfully savor each and every bite.

- If I’m hungry but am not sure what I want to eat, I’ll think it through a little bit more.

  • When I get an idea for what I want to eat, I’ll imagine what the food looks, smells, and tastes like. Is that look, smell, and taste appealing to me at the moment?
  • I imagine how the food will make my body feel after I’ve eaten it. This helps me determine if I’m craving something light that won’t weigh me down, or something heavier that will make me feel more full. There’s a time and a place for both.

In the end, if I’m truly honoring my cravings – both mental and physical – sometimes I’ll be eating this:

(Source)

While other times I’ll be eating this:

(Source)

Yes, I truly find that sometimes I am craving a salad, no doubt about it. :-)

What about you? Do you “honor your cravings”? What does that mean to you? Do you agree that we experience both mental and physical cravings?

For more reading, check out Elina’s post from a few weeks ago on eating intuitively versus eating whatever you want.

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