It is true, it finally happened. I hit diet bottom a few months ago. I decided I was tired of always being on a diet, counting macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein), talking about food, reading about the latest diet, and obsessing about that stupid number on the scale that dictated how I would feel for the day. I finally got fed up and said, “Screw it! No more!”
I desire to live a life that is fully with happiness, peace and fun. Chronic dieting took all of that away from me. I couldn’t fully be happy and truly enjoy the moment because I was always thinking about food. I was constantly worrying if I was within my carbohydrate allowance for the day or if I was eating enough protein with every meal. I definitely was not at peace with my body. In fact, I hated it most days. I covered up at every opportunity and hated to be in a swimsuit, which is a problem when you live in Southern California. I am sure I was not a lot of fun to be around all the time because I was always stressing about food or preoccupied with it in some form.
One day I was journaling and decided to look back in my journal. I realized a lot of my entries were around diets and body image. I felt so sad for that person who wrote those entries. Oh wait, that person is me! Then I had an ah-ha moment. I was the definition of insanity (my husband tells me this all the time, but shit—I think he is right!). According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. This is exactly what I had been doing for years. I continued to diet, yet it continued not to work. So I decided it was time to do something radical and stop dieting.
I listened to the book (several times) on Intuitive Eating by dietitians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole and fell in love with it. I was so scared in the beginning, but my intuition told me it was the right thing for me. I thought “How am I going to know what or when to eat? If I don’t weigh myself, then how will I know if I have been “good” or “bad? Won’t I gain a ton of weight if I am not on a diet and jumping on that scale multiple times a day?” I made the decision to give it a try for a week. If it didn’t work and I gained 10 pounds that week then I could go back to my old crappy habits.
Intuitive Eating is not something that just happens overnight. It is a constant work in progress. The first step is rejecting the diet mentality. Throw out everything you have learned about dieting. Throw out all diet books and magazines that might offer that last false hope of losing weight quickly, easily and permanently. Delete all apps from your phone that have to do with tracking weight, calories, carbs, exercise etc. Trust your body knows how to be a body and that diets don’t work. I did it, but I was freaking out (like a lot!).
I needed some tools to help me learn my true physical hunger because dieting for so many years only taught me how to ignore it. I decided that if I ate some form of carbohydrates, fat and protein with every meal at first that I would likely feel satisfied and it would keep my blood sugar stable. I knew a meal like this should typically keep me feeling full for 3-5 hours. This was beneficial because then I was able to really tune into my body in 3 to 5 hours after my meal and recognize if I needed a snack or meal. I also want to mention that I would ask myself what protein, fat and carb sounded appealing and good to me before each meal. I was not viewing it a a diet. I could eat whatever I wanted, but it had to contain protein, fat and carbs. I was able to really start learning my true hunger. I didn’t portion out my food, weigh or measure it, just made sure it was balanced. Now, I don’t have to follow this because I am more in-tune with my internal hunger.
I started practicing eating everything mindfully. I sat down to eat. I looked at it first. Smelled it and chewed slowly until it was liquid (~25 x each bite). In my opinion, this is the key to learning how to eat intuitively. Slow down, chew your food, put your fork down between bites, eat without distractions, take a break in the middle to check in and truly honor your hunger. If you are still hungry after the break, then eat. Only stop if you are truly full.
I decided to start I would not weigh myself for an entire week, which was liberating and scary all at the same time. I admit there were several days that I thought about pulling out that scale and had to talk myself off the ledge. I had to constantly ask myself, “What will change if I know that number? What will I do differently? How will it benefit me?” I stayed true to myself and didn’t weigh all week. I was very proud of myself. I focused on non-scale victories instead, like getting in 10k steps a day. I focused on things that were within my control and made me feel well.
So what happened? Guess what, I didn’t gain 10 pounds! I enjoyed my food and even had fun experimenting with some foods I had never allowed myself to eat previously because I was on a diet. I enjoyed a few glasses of wine over the week. I felt more at peace with my body than I have felt in years. The scale didn’t dictate my mood. I was and continue to be hooked.
I realized during this week long experiment that as long as I continued to move my body daily in ways that feel good to me, eat mindfully, get enough rest, and honor my true hunger that I don’t have to worry about that number on the scale. My body weight will normalize on it’s own. This experiment proved to me that I could truly trust my body. Also, I realized how much fuller and fun my life can be when I am not preoccupied with food. I continue to practice the principles of Intuitive Eating and continue to learn to love my body instead of trying to change it. See ya later diets and scales! You are no longer welcome in my house!
P.S. I will be writing more about Intuitive Eating in upcoming blog posts so be sure to check back. Also, if this resonates with us, leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!