If there is one thing more than any other I have taken away from my Dietitian these last several months, its that for all the hours upon hours of education I had about nutrition, I was doing it all wrong.
It’s a frustrating experience to think about, if I’m being honest. For years, I devoured every article, book, and documentary about food and the human body. Stemming from my natural love of all things medicine, I hate relying on other people for things I am able to grasp myself, and this was no different. So you might wonder how was I doing it wrong and what does doing it ‘that other way’ really impact versus doing it the Intuitive Eating way?
Well, let me start by talking about Diets. The big ol’ “D” word. Ugh! Now, my first college-go was in biology, so while I make it very clear on this site that you should consult a licensed professional, my personal opinion is that actually qualified licensed professionals, or really anyone who understands truly healthy nutrition and eating habits, is unfortunately few and far between, and the foundation of a person who is capable of grasping knowledge typically comes down to someone who is primo at research. Bingo Bongo, I’d say I’m a fairly good example of that!
Back to the limited amount of quality care in the US…I’ve had family doctors willing to prescribe me what amounted to an extreme weight-loss uppers for months at a time when I was showing numerous signs of an eating disorder years ago. I’ve had family council me that all I need to do is ‘cut out alcohol and sugar’. I’ve even had a someone tell me she manages her weight by using an illegal drug! All of those are a hard NO for me these days (I have never used drugs just for clarification unless they were prescribed for me by my physician). The thing is, even the prescription was terrible for me. I ended getting a staph infection from the extreme ‘high’ the drug caused me, which ultimately left me feeling so hyper-focused and crazy that I needlessly picked at imaginary pimples I didn’t have. Thanks crappy family doctor those 4 months of fighting a dangerous infection were peachy!
So back to diets. I had tried everything. Zone, Atkins, South Beach, No Carbs, High Carbs, No Sugar, No Alcohol, Intermittent Fasting, Vegetarianism, Veganism, etc. etc. etc. The funniest one I tried was the potato diet, simply being allowed to eat whatever I wanted as long as it was a potato! That one lasted all of 2 days, not surprisingly. Did they work, any of them? For a hot minute, some sorta did, but they weren’t sustainable for me, nor are they sustainable for most people. If you don’t believe me and live in the US, walk to any public spot with a lot of people and turn in a slow circle. What you’ll see is a massively obese and growing population. It’s literally an epidemic that is spreading to other countries along with our brands of processed foods. It’s not all the GMO’s, or fast food at our finger tips, though those aren’t the healthiest things we come face to face with. It’s the constant yo-yo platform that the US has provided as a healthy lifestyle via celebrity endorsements and lack of education.
The closest I came to long-term sustainability was being Vegan about 98% of the time for a handful of years. I do believe that a vegan lifestyle is the best for the planet from what I have read, and overall provides a solid basis of health and disease fighting properties to the human body, but I don’t think its the 1 size fits all answer that its made out to be. What about those of us who have disordered eating? I simply can’t be vegan. Not because I didn’t like the food, or doing right by the planet, but because when I am regularly participating in a habit of exclusion (regardless of the food), I start falling into unhealthy eating patterns and ultimately end up back in the path of ED. It’s simply not the best option for the majority.
So, with my long explanation over, here is the thing. I don’t care if you think that cutting out sugar will miraculously make you thinner because ‘it worked last time’, that is not how our bodies function at their best. Nature and history of nature tells us this, and also shows us a very clear indication of what does work. Intuitive eating!
This consists of relearning the conversation between your mind and body so that you truly remember the hunger and fullness cues you’ve long forgotten. As I mention in my site and blog in other places, if you want a means of long-term living without depravity and with true results that are natures way of healing and fulfilling you, then Intuitive Eating is where its at.
The other methods of cutting this out or that out don’t work because they aren’t something any person can do with balance for a period of time that is truly healthy or sustainable. My mother is a big fan of ‘just eating healthier and cutting out sugar’. I get it, eating healthier is great, but for some people (like those with disordered eating) that’s not a method that’s going to work . Why? Because like me, their brain will at some point start making them ignore their bodies natural voice and start listening to ED’s. They may not realize it, and they may not even ever fully develop bulimia or anorexia. It may just be that they eat too much, but they WILL struggle to achieve what they want in their weight and health, and they will learn through behaviors to overeat, give food too much of their mental thoughts, obsess over calories and restrictions, and then feel guilty when they want something that they have deemed ‘bad’.
That is what I learned by now being able to say I’m recovered. That it is 100% about healthy relationships with yourself and food and 0, absolutely a big FAT ZERO about cutting things out and restricting! Consider the toddler. A toddler will eat when given, but even with foods they love, they stop when their bodies have met the needs required. Animals in the wild are typically this way as well. You won’t find blatantly obese animals where humans have not interfered with their diets. This is nature’s demonstration of intuitive eating at its finest!
One thing to consider is that while you might argue that (insert some other diet here) works and you’ve already lost (insert pounds lost here), you are failing to consider the full picture. Do you always want to miss-out of whatever food or foods you’ve eliminated? Would you hold your 2 year old to the same standard? What has happened the last time you failed some other diet? I’m going to guess that if you’re being honest you’ll soon realize that while you can find examples of before and after pictures of anything you search online, that truly long-term healthy and naturally balanced people are the one’s we all make the comment, “Man it must be nice to be able to eat what you want!”, but have you ever really examined what that means to those people? Most likely its intuitive eating, even if they don’t fully realize that’s what it is.
So I’m challenging all of you. I’m recovered, but Intuitive Eating is something I’m continuing to learn and do better with each day. Buy the book on Amazon, or rent it from the library. There is even a workbook if you REALLY want to see change happening! You’ve spent hundreds, probably even thousands of dollars on diets, contraptions, and memberships, so give this one a chance. It might feel foreign to eat a food for the first time with no guilt, but ultimately if you take it as seriously as you have the other ‘diets’ you’ve tried you’ll be astonished how your life changes. The freedom that you’ll gain, and the amount of life you’ll start experiencing you never realized you missed!
There is just one caveat. You can’t focus on weight. Whhhhhaaat? Yeah, I said that. Stop worrying about your weight. Throw out the scale, give back the BMI measurer, and just focus on the steps to reintroduce yourself to your body. That also means, you can’t worry about whether or not its happening fast. Truly changing habits, and further, truly creating a long-term and sustainable way of living that will fulfill you both from a self-care standpoint and nutritionally takes time, and you most likely didn’t develop your ‘bad’ habits over night, so have a little self-grace!
You can find the link to purchase the book on Amazon on the menu link above called “Learn” and then by clicking on the “Intuitive Eating” button.
I’d love to hear everyone’s opinions, answer questions, and start a discussion, so please comment below and let’s support one another in changing the future of our country one person at a time! If I get enough of a community of common interest, I will create a Facebook group for supporting one another through this challenge.