I am so happy that all of you are enjoying the Intuitive Eating posts. I really love writing them. If you want more in depth information, be sure to check out the book I get my inspiration and ideas from – Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
From yesterday’s post in the series, it definitely sounds like many of us struggle with recognizing our fullness and taking the time to be aware of it when eating. I will be the first to admit that is one of my biggest challenges with intuitive eating as well. I have always been a fast eater and grew up with the “clean your plate” mentality ingrained into me. I vividly remember a dinner during a family vacation when I was 12. My cousin and I wanted to order off the adult menu because they had coconut shrimp. We were told if we ordered them, we must eat the entire thing. We both got full only about halfway into the meal and were forced to finish with our parents and aunt looming over us. It came as no surprise when we both ended up in the bathroom a short time later throwing up our too packed tummies.
I remember eating intuitively my late years of high school and my first two years of college. Then, all of that changed when I got on a diet plan. I ate by the clock and would not pay attention to how hungry I was. I completely lost sight of what satisfied felt like. I knew “hungry” or “too full”. I had such a rigid eating schedule and was always so hungry at meal times that I would eat so fast out of the pure excitement to finally get to eat. There was no room for recognizing hunger because I had to eat my particular meals no matter what my body was telling me. I was out of touch with my body’s natural signals because my diet rules controlled my life.
In an attempt to rebel against the rules and say they had no control over me, I swung to the opposite end of the spectrum. I began binging. When I binged, it was all about the out of control feeling and eating as much as I could as fast as I could.
I remember there were times I would stop by the grocery store on my way home from work to buy a box of cookies, candy, a dozen doughnuts, whatever…and would devour the entire thing in the 30 minutes it took me to get home.
Or even before that, when I was still living at home with my parents, I would have to sneak to the kitchen and eat as much as I could in the few minutes I knew I had before somebody came downstairs. I probably didn’t even chew some of the food in an effort to pack it in.
I would hide out in my bedroom when I lived with a roommate and get extremely anxious when I heard her come home because my mouth was so full and I would worry I didn’t have time to swallow my food before she came in my room to say hi.
I would buy a tray of brownies, bags of candy, and some ice cream sandwiches and make up an elaborate story about throwing a birthday party for someone so they wouldn’t know it was all for me. I would even throw a card in with my purchase to make it look more real.
I remember one time after a particularly grueling fight with my dad going to a local pizza shop to buy a $5 large cheese carryout pizza and sitting in a remote corner of a parking lot eating it in my car.
That is the ugly truth of where I have come from. That is just how out of touch I was with my hunger and my body’s needs. What changed that and shaped that was recognizing what truly matters. God, my husband, and my growing baby. I didn’t start feeling more in control of those actions until trying to get pregnant with Makenzie. I didn’t fully stop them until I actually was pregnant with her. Seeing all the wonders that go into God creating a human being through me left me with more respect for myself and more aware of the most important blessings in life. My faith grew beyond a basic “I believe God is out there” and along with my faith came an intense desire to honor God, part of which included loving me because He loved me. It took a LOT of prayer, even more encouragement from my husband, and a little miracle of a child to show me the importance of respecting myself and listening to my body. As Quinn from Glee says, “don’t wait to get pregnant to feel at home in your body and to respect it”. Or something along those lines.
It also took time and effort to truly pay attention to my body. I know recognizing fullness and being aware of your eating is a very difficult practice to adopt, but very worth it. I still have to really pay attention and recognize my hunger. I have to consciously make myself slow down and pause during every meal. It is hard, like so many things in life, but taking the time to decide if you are satisfied, hungry, or full brings many rewards…like rarely going hungry or uncomfortable from food again. I do say rarely, because lets be real...I can still eat too much at times. Typically a social gathering where I am distracted from my eating and there are too many goodies to try. I don't feel guilty for it though because I am still in control and aware. It takes practice, but it does become a little more natural as time goes on.