What is intuitive eating?
Dieting and your weight/looks is not what life is all about. I’m happy to say that the journey of intuitive eating has led me to find a greater sense of peace with myself as well as realizing the things that truly are important that I used to always squash away below the surface, hiding underneath the symptom of incessant dieting and exercising regimens.
Let’s go back to intuitive eating. What is intuitive eating? I think it would help if we defined intuitive eating:
“Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.” (source)
Now, let me get into the core of what I’m trying to talk about in this article – well, it seems like there is a certain perception around IE (intuitive eating) that it not necessarily correct.
It seems like some people think that when a person practices IE they eat whatever the heck they want, whatever comes their way at all times. It often becomes synonymous with gluttony and using it as an excuse to eat emotionally and without a care in the world – “Office is having birthday cake, bring it! Pizza for dinner during the game, do it! Chocolate at night because I’m just used to doing it and it makes me feel good.”
Now before I go on a tangent, let me just say there is nothing wrong with eating those things, even in that type of manner. I was there in the beginning of intuitive eating as well. I ate anything I wanted to and/or craved emotionally. Any thought I had about food, I’d eat it. I ate emotionally frequently and the fact that I had extreme sugar cravings certainly didn’t help. The weight kept going up.
I knew I was following a process of neutralizing food and not seeing food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ anymore and that’s why I trusted the process and ate whatever I wanted without judgment, just like you’re meant to.
I think it’s hard to be a true intuitive eater if you have a sugar addiction or any nutritional imbalance because, while your body might think it wants something (sugar), it does not do it in a healthy way. Don’t get me wrong – I love my sugar. However, it wasn’t until I started actually getting digestive issues from all the overeating that I realized that something was not right.
There’s more to it than just “eating what I want” and that’s where I got to a point of realizing I need to pay more attention to my health and my body in terms of how it feels and how it affects me.
This is a natural thing that is part of intuitive eating but many people seem to forget that. People seem to think that IE is just about eating whatever the heck you want without feeling guilty forever. And that IS what it is. But IE is also all about taking note of your body and mind at any given point in time.
It is focused on listening to your body and seeing how your body reacts to different foods. It is focused on making decisions based on what you learn about what your body likes and dislikes that will influence your eating habits in the future.
My digestive issues were not overwhelming but they were apparent enough for me to want to take charge of my health and my body. Intuitive eating is not about eating ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner simply because it makes you feel good and it numbs your pain. Intuitive eating is about listening to how your body feels before, during and AFTER you have eaten a bowl of ice cream and taking note of that feeling, more than just the sugar high you get at first.
I’ve talked at length about intuitive eating on this blog after I gave up dieting a year ago and began a journey into intuitive eating. This journey lead me to make many shifts and discoveries about myself especially by beginning to lean more into the mental, emotional, and spiritual health rather than focusing on the superficial things like how I look and how much I weigh.
The fact that I gained weight during the process was bothersome at times since clothes don’t fit the way they used to (aka I had to buy new ones) but I am much less worried about it as I would have been when I was in the midst of my chronic dieting mentality. The truth is – I don’t care about my weight that much.
Ever since I threw out my scale I haven’t bought a new one so I only really step on one maybe once per month or two when I’m at my parents house, out of curiosity. I’ve learned to never associate judgment or contempt or happiness with the number, however. The number does not define you! (tweet this)
I am not in tears and shambles because I am at my highest weight. Who cares. And if you do, then you are most obviously not a friend I want to keep. Get your negative judgmental ass out of here. And lighten up.
Paying attention and taking note of how my body was reacting to certain foods made it clear to me just how much my body was talking to me. It was telling me things I was too busy to notice. I was on a sugar high half the time and therefore blind to what my body was trying to tell me.
Until it go to a point where it HAD to be heard and so it started giving me GI issues. That’s when I finally stopped and listened. I wish I had listened earlier but I am glad I am listening now. Now that I KNOW the annoyance and the difficulties you could face if you ignore your true (sometimes quiet) body signals, I want to avoid those feelings in the future.
So it really annoyed me when someone said to me:
“So this is a blog about intuitive eating? Because honestly, your whole post is about restriction, restriction, restriction and sounds very ED-ish.”
This offended me because clearly the person did not read the post and what my reasoning for the dietary changes was based on. It also offended me that they would put me back in the ED bucket where I know exactly how it is like over there and there is nothing I am doing that has anything to do with how I look, how much weight I want to lose, etc. The whole idea behind MY concept of intuitive eating is eating what you truly want and your body desires.
This means that eventually your body might tell you that, “Hey – you actually don’t do very well with lactose and gluten, and heavy carbs put you in a fog, and don’t even get me started on sugar- you are addicted and it rules you life. You cannot go without sugar for even a day and that’s a problem because it is making your tired, sleepy, uninspired, and frankly – it’s making you lazy.”
Is there anything wrong with me listening to my body? Even if it tells me that I should eat HEALTHY nutrition-rich foods and focus on eating REAL and WHOLE FOODS based on traditional nutritional practices? Is there anything wrong with me wanting to be my very best so that I don’t have to feel tired, lazy, and uninspired?
And on a side note, yes – if you crave that chocolate cake and you really want it. Go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I go for it too although not as much as I did then. I now have physical reminders that tell me why I shouldn’t indulge in conventional processed foods but there’s nothing wrong with a little processed food action once in a while.
The beauty of becoming more in tune with your own personal signals is that you can now ask yourself, is the prolonged discomfort worth the temporary high and taste of white flour and sugar?
But still, life in balance is a realistic life.
But what that balance looks like for YOU is different than it looks like for me or your neighbor or another blogger down the street. We are all different.
I think it’s time we realize that it’s okay to eat how WE want to eat and not follow some fad. It’s okay to eat what our body tells us to eat. It’s ALSO okay to indulge in foods if we really want them. Food is nourishment AND it is pleasure AND it is fuel. It’s all of those things.
It’d be silly to think of food as just one of those things because that’s not true! And that’s the whole concept of balance once again. We use it for different things but the main thing is that we have to be CONSCIOUS and aware of how we are using food at any given point in time.
That’s my take on intuitive eating.
I recently received a comment from a reader that stirred some thoughts in my head about intuitive eating and healthy/clean eating and whether the two are one and the same or whether they cannot exist simultaneously at all.
It was the post where I discussed some dietary changes I am adopting namely limiting dairy (except for grass-fed organic butter and goat cheese) due to lactose sensitivity as well as limiting my consumption of gluten and (beginning to, well see how that goes) grains (with the exception of sprouted and soaked) due to the scientific research that links it to the myriad of health dangers to the body and the brain (have you heard about Grain Brain?). My reasons for this are health-related, as much preventative as it is treating current discomfort. I want to function at the highest capacity for my body and I want to feel good and be healthy at all times.
Intuitive eating and dieting
There are two amazing posts I read about similar issues, namely Running with Spoons and Live, Love & Run. Both of these ladies have their heads on straight and they definitely do have their thinking in line with mine. We are all sick and tired of the crap media is feeding us about diets. It’s all lies and it’s all pointless, wasted time that could be spent differently.
But I won’t reveal the big truths, watch the video to find out for yourself.
This is a topic I am passionate about. I have been a victim to the chronic dieting and it wasn’t until I gave up and picked up Intuitive Eating that I began to really realize the garbage I’ve believed. It’s easy to think we will be able to go for the quick fix. The thing is, we ALL think we will not be in the 95% I mentioned in the video. We ALL believe this when we start out. The motivation is running high. But the numbers don’t lie, experiences don’t lie – and we all end up in the same place where we started, IF we’re lucky. If we are’t, we might end up even heavier than we were when we started. Except this time, weight isn’t the only thing on our mind – we also have the nagging thoughts of disappointment, resentment, and failure. It’s a cycle that I am all too familiar with.
I mentioned the IE principle of Rejecting the Dieting Mentality. It is not an easy one to accomplish but I do believe it is SO important. I do slip up here and there. It’s easy to fall back into old habits of thinking life would be just so much easier when we do go ahead and go on that one LAST diet. That mentality will not get you very far. Trust me.
I threw away the scale before I moved out of my old apartment. I love knowing that it no longer holds the power over me and my emotions.
Please check out my YouTube videos and subscribe to my channel for more videos about Intuitive Eating and beating the dieting mentality.
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Intuitive eating teaches you to stop judging yourself
Stop judging yourself.
Because food is neither good nor bad. Food is food and itis meant to satisfy us and make us feel good.
There is no point in feeling guilty about eating something “we shouldn’t be eating” if it has made us feel GOOD whilst eating it.
There should never be any judgment about what you eat because eating is a natural behavior that we need in order to survive.
There is no point in pretending you don’t like a certain food because it is a food that is forbidden on various diets. Who cares if frozen yogurt is not actually “healthy”? If you’ve indulged a craving and felt SATISFIED after eating it, then why should you judge yourself for the choice you’ve made? Why should you feel guilty for allowing yourself pleasure?
We are meant to feel good about eating, after all it is the one thing that allows us to continue being ALIVE and WELL.
It is important to be conscious of what we are eating and craving. When you start feeling like you want to eat something, ask yourself what do you ACTUALLY want and crave? If you are really craving chocolate and go for something else, something “healthier” – chances are, you will not end up feeling satisfied.
You will end up craving chocolate soon after. It’s natural. You have not satisfied with true craving therefore that original craving remains. It is common for binge eaters or dieters to attempt to stay away from a certain food when they are craving it because it is “forbidden.”
They therefore often eat everything else to fill up and numb that craving. But chances are – they will end up eating that chocolate in the end anyway. Isn’t it better to just go straight to the craving rather than filling yourself up with a larger quantity of “healthier” food with hopes of hindering the craving? Don’t lie to yourself – LISTEN to yourself.
I used to eat yogurt and pretend it was cake. I would try to visualize it and taste the cake – you know Yoplait and their cake-flavored yogurts. It sometimes would work in the short run but after a while, I would continue craving cake. So then I would eat more yogurt to try satisfying that craving again.
But a flavored yogurt is usually not enough to satisfy a true craving because a true craving is in the mind AND the body – you want not just the flavor, but also the texture, the feel, the smell and the VISUAL of the cake. Nothing short of cake will cut it. Yogurt only provides you with that one little thing – flavor – but everything else is missing.
Plus, most importantly, you KNOW you are trying to trick yourself and therefore your mind and body know you aren’t actually satisfying that craving after all.
Instead of avoiding and swerving around the true cravings you have, indulge yourself in them and satisfy your body and mind. The more you pay attention to how you feel and what you really crave, the more satisfaction you will have from eating those foods.
Just remember to indulge in a non-judgmental way. We are not robots who are never meant to crave cake. We are humans and many of us love cake (myself included). If you get a true craving for cake, don’t ignore it – ask yourself if this is what you really want. Will cake truly satisfy your craving? If the answer is yes, have some cake.
And eat it sensually and mindfully – savoring every last bite. After all this is what you’ve been craving so INDULGE all of your senses in the experience. It feels SO good to satisfy your TRUE cravings, doesn’t it?
After you’ve eaten and felt you are no longer hungry and feel satisfied with what you have eaten, whether it’s the full portion or only some of the food, be sure to SMILE and thank yourself for listening to your body and mind.
My experience with intuitive eating
A few months ago, I gave up on dieting and picked up the Intuitive Eating book. The book was very eye opening and enlightening. The intuitive eating approach seemed like the perfect approach for me – I like food, I have a history of losing and gaining weight, and the restricting and bingeing behaviors.
The relationship with food and exercise I had in the previous years was disordered and lead me to some depressive thoughts, feelings of guilt and shame, as well as low self-esteem.
When you restrict for extended periods of time, you end up binging and filled with guilt. I have had countless occurrences where my eating habits and poor self-image have prevented me from leaving my apartment. I have refrained from attending numerous social events because I felt that I was too fat to have friends or have fun (I was 15 pounds over my goal weight, at the most).
I now realize how ridiculous this sounds. There is no such thing as being too fat to have friends, what the hell?! Like I said, my mentality was very disordered and my thinking and emotions were ruled by how I ate that particular day and what the scale said.
Fast forward to the breaking point. I have worked on rejecting the dieting mentality and allowing myself to eat whatever I want. I gained a few pounds in the process.
Trying not to worry about it.
I stopped exercising because I simply focused on listening to my body. In the past, I associated exercise with weight loss exclusively and I did not really see or do it for any other reasons.
Because I stopped thinking about dieting, I also stopped exercising to let my thoughts go back to neutral and become as non-judgmental as possible. I worked on stopping my emotional eating (still a work in progress). I listened to self-hypnosis for intuitive eating with the purpose of clearing emotional roadblocks (which I absolutely recommend!).
Everything was going great until my trip to New York City during which I indulged a lot and seemed to have lost some of the intuitive eating practice I newly acquired.
Where am I with IE right NOW?
I have had some issues with recovering from the extended splurging during my visit to NYC, the endless delicious dinners (Part 1 & Part 2) and the amazing indulgent desserts, and the unforgettable chocolate tour, put me in ecstasy and bliss but lead me to forgetting some intuitive eating principles.
I keep trying to fight off the thoughts about going on another diet or counting calories. I have not gone back to any diet since beginning IE but I have had thoughts about it from time to time which can be a bit annoying.
Also, I keep trying not to be too judgmental about how I look right now. While I don’t know how much I weigh since I threw away the scale, I do see my clothes fitting tighter than they did when I was in the midst of my dieting/restricting behaviors. It’s a bit discouraging to see them fit more tightly but I have been trying to stay positive nonetheless. I know this is a part of the process and I trust it.
Because of these recent struggles and wanting to get back on the Intuitive Eating path of life full-on and without uncertainty, I have decided to take Jamie’s 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge.
Some of the things will be review for me but I know I need the reminders and the reassurance that I AM on the right path. I also believe that going through this challenge with others will be more helpful and beneficial than doing it alone, like I was doing it before.
Since starting intuitive eating, I focused on listening to my body. Around March I stopped exercising a lot like I used to and did things sporadically. I went on a running phase for a while where I ran 3 times a week using the C25K app – which was so much fun and I have no idea why I stopped or how it happened.
You know how things go.. if you don’t have a set schedule, things just… dissolve into air it seems like. One bad weather, another… and my motivation got shot. It’s okay though because I was in the midst of getting accustomed to working longer hours and having a different work schedule than I ever have before (my first 9-5 with a bunch of overtime).
So before Monday I haven’t actually done any sort of exercise in 2 or 3 weeks. Embarrassed? Not really. I definitely have missed working out though, now that I started this bootcamp I can tell that I missed this a lot.
And I was happy to see that my strength and endurance are still decent and not completely shot. So yay for that! I actually am able to keep up! I love it!
But anyway, so in this bootcamp they do monthly weigh-ins and measurements. Mixed emotions for me. At one side, I was curious how much damage I have done lately. I won’t hide it – I have been a bit overindulgent lately.
I never feel bad about eating what I eat, but I know I have been eating more according to what my mind and emotions were telling me to eat rather than what my body wanted.
There was a lot of Nutella, Nut Butter, Chocolate, Froyo, and takeout going on in this girl’s life in the past few weeks. I realize this. I have meant to tighten this up, especially since a lot of money has been going towards food and I am trying to save up so I can go to San Francisco in a few months.
So what WAS the damage? Well…. I am at my highest weight.
I have never been at a weight that is as high as the number that read on that scale this morning. It is also 20 pounds heavier than the weight I was at a year ago. 20 pounds heavier than the weight I think is perfect for me. 20 pounds overweight.
How did I feel after seeing this number?
I will admit, I was not entirely shocked. But there was a slight tinge of disappointment. Thankfully, I noticed this emotion right away and I dismissed it instantaneously.
If this was me a year ago, I would have probably went home after the bootcamp and cried. I would have hated myself all throughout the rest of the class, rest of the day, rest of the week. I would promise myself to never eat Nutella or froyo or Thai food.
I would promise myself that I am gonna count calories and I’m not gonna go over the limit and that I’m gonna be as active as possible. I would have been determined – but that determination would be fueled by negativity, contempt, and hatred for my current body.
This determination would also dissipate in the following few weeks followed by series of binges, continued body shame and hatred, and I would probably discontinue going to the class because I was felt too fat and guilty for failing.
How do I react TODAY? After countless insights and realizations after starting intuitive eating, what did I think of this high number on the scale?
First, I thought – well no one here knows how I looked like before. For all they know, I could have been even heavier and I am on my way to losing weight. They don’t know.
But even if they don’t know – the thing is – they don’t care. We are all there to work out, to sweat, and to accomplish something – that accomplishment is not losing weight, it is completing the super tough workout that was given to us with energy and determination.
What did I think after that? I expected this. I knew I would see a higher number. Granted, I didn’t expect to see a number that much higher but I also COULD have seen a number that was even higher.
The thing that matters is that – this is a process. Numbers don’t matter. The number has no value. It is merely that – a number. It shouldn’t hold any grip on our emotions or attitude about ourselves or life.
I left the bootcamp with a realization – it wasn’t a judgmental attitude but more of a gentle advice to myself. I knew I was being overindulgent. I knew I was eating more with my mind and emotions rather than with my body.
So instead of taking it out on myself and hating myself – I saw this as a learning opportunity. I thanked myself for being strong and confident to make the choice to continue going to the bootcamp class. I thanked myself for allowing my body to feel pleasure from food and exercise. I thanked myself for going ALONG with the process of intuitive eating – gaining weight IS part of the process.
- I am not upset or sad. I am happy.
- I am happy because seeing the number on the scale did not affect my mood.
- I am happy because I take care of my body and my mind.
- I am happy because I no longer feel a prisoner to a diet mentality.
Intuitive Eating tips: using self hypnosis
In the very beginning stages of my blog, I wrote about hypnosis for weight loss. Hypnosis is something I am a huge believer in, I find it to be extremely successful in re-wiring our subconscious to make for better habit changes and behaviors that would otherwise be difficult to change.
I have been using hypnosis on an occasional basis for 4 years or so. I don’t do it religiously, but I use it when I feel like I need a boost. There are hypnosis recordings out there that can help with almost any issue.
Most recordings help you better yourself and take your great self even higher. It’s also a great way to relax.
Hypnosis and guided meditation recordings are very similar in that they both take you to an extremely relaxed and meditative state of mind: your mind becomes calm and relaxed and also very open to receiving any hypnotic suggestions.
This is where the magic happens, the hypnotherapist (in a recording) taps into your subconscious to give you subtle suggestions that your mind will accept and therefore, eventually, change your behavior. Because this is done on such a deep and profound level, these changes are more likely to stick. The only caveat is that you have to believe it works!
The whole idea behind hypnosis is that the more you believe it can work, the more easily you will be able to get into the hypnotic state, and the more effective the suggestions will be. I suggest you give it a try, whether it’s a recording about intuitive eating (like the ones I’ll discuss here) or one for something else, just to relax.
Jennifer Polle is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner and has worked in the field since 2001.
I contacted Jennifer telling her about my beginning journey into Intuitive Eating. I read her page about intuitive eating and I was happy to see that she offers numerous hypnosis recordings that may help a person immerse themselves in the practice. I listened to these two recordings:
“Clearing Emotional Blocks” (29 min) – Designed to gently assist the subconscious in releasing beliefs, emotions and past experiences that may be keeping you from being as happy and healthy as you can be. Special emphasis on building self-acceptance and self-worth. Voice over soothing background music.
“Intuitive Eating for Weight Release” (28 min) – Especially effective after using Clearing Emotional Blocks for a month, this CD will assist you in getting re-acquainted with your natural, intuitive sense of what your body needs and wants for food and exercise. It’s based on the basic principles of intuitive eating and does not advocate “dieting”, but rather encourages you to trust the part of you that knows exactly what you need. Voice over nature sounds and soothing background music.
My experience with the recordings:
1. I listened to the first one a couple of days in the first week and then a few more in the next week. I really enjoyed the first recording because it deals exclusively with self-affirming and positive thoughts.
It aims to dissolve any self-doubt we may have about ourselves, reaffirming us that we ARE enough and we ARE good. Without fixing the emotional issues and blocks we have, it will be very difficult to begin intuitive eating as a lifelong journey.
As Intuitive Eating book’s authors say, we MUST fix a relationship with ourselves and food in order to be happy. We must let go of self-doubt and begin a life filled with self-love instead.
2. The second recording I recommend listening much later than the first. Jennifer recommended listening to it at least after the second week, but after hearing it once, I felt I was simply not ready to listen to weight loss messages yet.
Although the hypnosis is not only about weight loss, it is more of a combination of intuitive eating AND weight release due to proper eating, I just felt that the obsessive weight loss and diet thoughts and misconceptions were too fresh in my mind. I recommend listening to the second recording once YOU think you are truly ready to hear it.
A good idea would be about a month or more (as she mentions in the CD info) after starting an intuitive eating approach of your own. But it might be sooner or later for you. We’re all different!
Jennifer has a lovely soothing voice which relaxes the mind. The music is nicely chosen for the recording as well. I liked the duration too, it is perfect for nighttime listening as it is not very short but not super long, I find it to be the perfect length for slow drifting off into sleep while reinforcing some positive suggestions in the mind.
I’ve been talking about hypnosis on and on, but you think “Okay, Kammie, but how am I supposed to know it really works?” You are welcome to try out another one from her list. You can see a full list of her recordings here. You get an option of getting a CD or MP3 of the recording.
An Intuitive Eating Success Story
Kathy from the Panda Post was kind enough to share her success story with us.
Hi Sensual Appeal Readers! My name is Kathy, I am a 20 something living in Northern Virginia and I blog over at www.thepandapost.com.
How many times have you said to yourself “This is going to be the time insert diet name here is going work”? This time I will have willpower!” “This time I will make it to goal!” Yet, one month in, you find yourself binging on the nearest bag of cookies because you just can’t take it anymore.
The cycle begins: diet >> binge >> anger.
So you recommit AGAIN. You vow this little slip is just a lack of willpower and you do it again, and again and again. With each little slip up, each “falling off the wagon” scenario, the entire process becomes more frustrating, upsetting, and defeating. Weight loss seems an impossible feat, only achieved by people other than you.
Does this sound familiar?
It sure does for me! I began packing on the pounds as a tween and was at my highest weight ever by age 15. It was awful and I was depressed so I decided to change. This was my first, unknowing exposure to intuitive eating.
Within 16 months I dropped probably (not sure on a number because I didn’t own a scale) 60 pounds with NO tracking, measuring, weigh-ins, or crazy diet pills. I was on cloud nine until I believed tracking, measuring, and weigh-ins would get me faster results. From age 16 to now, 9 years later, I have been through painstaking weight loss journeys that got me to nowhere besides still being overweight and unhappy.
In June 2013, yes, only a few months ago, it was recommended by a friend that I read Overcoming Overeating by Jane Hirschman and Carol Munter. Deep down I was a skeptic; I am not an overeater! I don’t sit on the couch with bags of chips and gallons of ice cream! However, being an overeater is pretty darn simple, it is eating when you are not physically hungry.
I suddenly realized I eat all the time for no good reason, definitely not out of a physical need to nourish myself. Unfortunately, the moment I made this groundbreaking discovery my Dad passed away so all hopes of eating out of physical hunger went out the window from July-August despite my hardest attempts to get “it together”.
So what IS intuitive eating? According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, “Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy 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”.
Do you know how HARD it is to trust your own body when for years you have been told a diet will do it for you? “Reprogramming” myself is the hardest thing.
I also had to break up with the scale. I realized the weekly weigh-ins just fueled that diet mentality so I wasn’t doing myself any favors by keeping it around. Not knowing my weight is liberating and terrifying all at the same time
So what is my advice for someone thinking of giving this a try? Patience. If you are anything like me this change isn’t going to happen overnight. There will be a lot of trial and error.
You might even gain some weight initially (I did) but realize it is only temporary. Surf the web or pick up a book about this, there are plenty to choose from. Learn as much as you can. While this all may sound like “another diet plan”, trust me, you won’t feel like you are on a diet, you will feel like you are living.
How to stop emotional eating
As you may remember from my breakthrough, I decided to take the process slowly in order to fully understand and embrace it. I didn’t want to read the whole book cover to cover right away because I know I would miss many important things about it, so instead I wanted to focus on things little by little.
Letting the facts take time to soak in and therefore, hopefully, become permanent in my journey to a healthier and happier life.
If you haven’t seen my second video about Rejecting The Diet Mentality, which is on my YouTube channel, you are welcome to go watch it. I don’t post every single video on my blog so I encourage you to subscribe to my channel as I plan on making more progress videos as well as some other fun videos. I may be late to the game but I’m starting to like YouTube as a part of blogging.
Vlogs can be fun. But anyway, yeah I’ve made progress with rejecting the diet mentality and learning to live in a world saturated with weigh loss and diet messages. I overreacted a little bit after reading the first few principles of the Intuitive Eating book but I’ve learned to deal with it. I outline it in the second video.
Currently I am at a stage where I am learning to deal with emotional eating. By eating emotionally BUT also mindfully, I was able to have a breakthrough and something happened that has NEVER happened to me before.
Literally. If you have ever struggled with emotional eating or binge eating, I’m sure you will be able to relate to what I mean and why I find this to be such a big progress in this journey. Watch the vlog on this post to see what I mean.
I’d love to hear your experiences if you have ever had trouble stopping when you start eating emotionally or how you try to stop yourself mid-binge or regain control during an emotional eating episode.
All of your experiences are helpful and enlightening. Remember, most of us have gone through these experiences so most of us can relate to what you have gone through and the difficulty you felt with stopping. We’re here to listen and give support.
How to stop binge eating
I listened to the most amazing podcast the other day.
Well, I guess it wasn’t technically a podcast. It was a part of a telesummit I’ve signed up for. This particular one was with Nina Manolson, the owner of Smokin’ Hot Mom.
I think it’s no secret that I am not a mom nor am I anywhere close to being one. Thankfully the things Nina was talking about in this telesummit was not mom-related whatsoever, but it was SO amazingly relevant to me and my life.
I literally have never listened or read anyone’s struggles that were SO similar to mine. I’ve read a lot of books, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts about this sort of thing, but I have never encountered someone who actually vocalized the EXACT thing that I have experienced. It was mindblowing and so insightful.
I was so moved by this podcast that I have to let you know what I learned so you can take advantage of this wonderful tool as well. I can’t keep this insight to myself, it is too powerful and too REAL.
If you have ever struggled with emotional eating or binge eating, you will find this very relevant and will be able to apply this to your life RIGHT NOW!
While I have not binge eaten in a while, I have been overeating quite regularly which I still rationalize by learning Intuitive Eating. But that doesn’t change the fact that I would like to just stop doing it already, but we all know how hard it can be to stop.
Once we get in the frantic go-go-go mentality of emotional eating or binge eating, it’s hard to stop. We will know we shouldn’t be doing this even AS we’re eating. We will be willing ourselves to stop, but to no avail.
How can we stop?
Nina discussed the differences between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and that each one works differently when it comes to eating. Sympathetic is the fight-or-flight mode, where all of the blood rushes to our limbs so that we are able to make fast movements and run from the situation.
This is the mode we are in when we binge eat and find ourselves “out of control” and unable to stop. The parasympathetic is the rest-and-digest mode, where we relax and the blood goes to our internal organs and this is where digestion takes place.
It’s clear that the reason we are unable to stop eating during binge eating is because our digestion is actually not working the way it would if we were relaxed. We don’t feel the fullness and even when we do, to the point of pain, we can’t stop until there is literally no more room in the stomach.
That’s because we are eating in a fight-or-flight mode. We do it quickly. We gorge. We hide. We think that by eating quickly we can trick our body into thinking we didn’t actually eat the amount we did, but there is no lying to the body.
The solution? Get in the rest-and-digest mode prior to binging.
Sure, emotional eating or binge eating may sometimes be impossible to avoid. The thing to help us actually control it is to relax. How can we do this, you ask? You ritualize the binge.
Ritualizing the binge
When you feel the binge coming on, you tell that oncoming feeling “alright, bring it on. I’m gonna binge SO good but I’m actually gonna ENJOY it too.”
You come out of hiding. Take out the best plates and silverware. Put the cookie package on the table, the chips, the lasagna, whatever it is you are planning on gorging on.
Put some on the plate. Don’t put all of it at once, you can help yourself to second, third, and fourth helpings. It’s a binge. You are already planning on gorging anyway. Ritualize it.
Then once you’ve sat down, you breathe. You relax. You look at the food and you take bites. You eat. You enjoy.
The system that Nina described for eating is:
You do exactly what this outlines. It’s easy. It’s not rocket science. You feel a binge coming on, you set yourself up nicely for it by ritualizing it. Then before you eat, you take a few deep breaths, you feel yourself relaxing, you feel your muscles unclench – enjoy this, you are about to binge in some awesome food, so enjoy it.
Then you watch the food. And you ALLOW this to happen. You allow yourself to eat while in a RELAXED state. You don’t will yourself to stop the binge, you actually EMBRACE the feeling and ALLOW yourself to do this. No judgement. No shame. Just enjoyment.
How does this help?
Well, you will eat. You will. It won’t stop you from eating. And we’re not TRYING To stop you from starting to eat, that’s not the point here. The point here is to release the shame and guilt and relax while eating so that the binge loses appeal.
When you are in the rest-and-digest mode, you will actually be able to stop before you are uncomfortably full. You may overeat but the thing that matters is – you won’t end up binging the way you’re used to. Because you will be in the rest-and-digest mode, the relaxed mode that has the digestion going, you will be able to feel when you are full and you will not want to continue eating. You just won’t.
I’ve been doing breathing exercises even before I listened to this podcast and I have found it to be immensely helpful to control oncoming binges. Breathing relaxes your mind and body and gets you out of that fast-eating fight-or-flight mode and you are able to slow down, enjoy the food, and actually get bored with it much easier and earlier on than you would otherwise.
So tell me, do you practice relaxation before eating? Have you heard of this tactic before? Let me know in the comments below!