Intuitive Eating has been my way of life for quite some time now. I spent most of my life worrying about food and my weight. In turn, I spent much of my energy counting points or calories, labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and feeling guilt and shame if I were to consume something that was “bad” or not in my calorie or point range. So I guess you can say that I was a very restrictive eater.
My very first step with Intuitive Eating was to erase all of the information I learned about food and adhere to principle one, “Reject the diet mentality.” As I started to do that, I gained weight. I gained weight as a result of my body’s rejection to the in and outs and ups and downs of dieting my whole life. I gained weight because I didn’t know how to eat when I was hungry or stop when I was full. I couldn’t do that because I didn’t even know what being hungry felt like.
My second step with intuitive eating was to learn how to wait until I was truly hungry to eat. This has been a big challenge. We are so used to eating at certain meal times that it makes it really hard to do this. My mind goes into panic mode if it is dinner time, but I am not feeling the hunger cues. Do I eat or not eat?
I am learning how to tune into my body and really listen to it and better yet learning that I can go against the social norms and not eat when everyone else is eating. In the end it makes me feel so much better to do this. I may get asked a few questions during a meal, but it only lasts a minute or two, whereas, if I eat when I am not hungry, then I am left for hours feeling physically awful and mentally and emotionally stressed.
This weekend I am away on a trip with my son’s hockey team. We took a bus with the team up to Montreal, Canada. Yup, you heard that right! TOOK A BUS WITH THE TEAM UP TO MONTREAL, CANADA. That is a 6 hour drive from home. I don’t think I really registered what I was getting myself into when I agreed to come. All of my “safe” planning tools are gone. We have no food (well, I did bring my own coffee because that is a necessity), we have no car to drive to get food and there is a language barrier.
We got to the hotel around 6:30 last night. I was not yet hungry because I ate a large sub on the bus at noon along with some pretzels and almonds. Looking back I can see that I was anxious with the start of the trip and did not tune into my body. Instead, I shoveled the sub into my mouth to calm my anxious feelings. The ride was fine; better than I anticipated.
We got to the hotel and the team ordered pizza and wanted to swim. I sat in room for a few minutes and that’s when it really hit me. “What the hell did I get myself into and what are we going to do for the next three days?” I feel bored out of my mind with nothing to do in between the hockey games. I feel insecure around the other moms who look better than me. I brought one outfit a day to live in and that is it. It consists of leggings and sweatshirts and UGGS, something I do not feel very attractive in. My head is spinning and what I see in the mirror I don’t even want to say out loud. The only thing to ease this anxiety and boredom is to go to the vending machines, get junk food and eat. It was then that I realized just how anxious I truly am.
The pizza arrived by 8pm and it looked amazing. I already ate a few pretzels and finished the nuts, partly due to hunger and partly due to anxiety. So the questioned remained, do I eat “dinner” (the pizza) or do I call it a night, drink a cup of tea, watch my t.v. show and go to bed?
I thought about my options and the consequences of both. I am happy to say that I declined the pizza. It looked amazing, but I knew that number one I was not even hungry. Number two is that pizza and me is not a good mix late at night. There is something in it that makes me lay awake all night and makes me super thirsty and also have heartburn. I need to have pizza during the day if I am going to eat it or early for dinner.
The feelings that flooded in that hour were difficult. I could feel every bit of discomfort and fear that I worked all my life to avoid. But the beautiful thing is that it lifted. I was able to lay in bed with my kids and enjoy them last night. I was not irritable or grumpy because I was not physically uncomfortable.
I went to bed and slept okay last night, much better than I would have if I chose to eat the pizza. And this morning I feel pretty good. Most of all, I feel extremely empowered because I realize that I can “honor my feelings without using food.” I can sit through them and feel them and the anxiety does lift. I am certain that it will come back today, but I know that I can work through them. I brought my lavender/chamomile tea for comfort and my computer for writing. I brought my devotionals to read and I have my biggest comfort in God who is always with me no matter where I go on this earth. I can do this without using food to get through. And today, my goal is to eat when I am hungry and enjoy all the restaurants and take out food because it tastes yummy and I don’t eat out all the time.
If I can sit through these feelings, then anybody can. I am my own worst enemy and my head can be a powerful enemy. So grateful for what I am learning with the principles of Intuitive Eating.