Posts tagged ‘Intuitive Eating’
I was having a conversation with my mother last weekend and I was talking to her about my weight. If you recall, I wrote a post on weighing 134 pounds, a higher weight for me, yet not having any emotional attachment to it (which is HUMONGO in my world).
She asked me how did I do it? How did I break through all the negative, self-depricating voices, the sabatoging binges, the victim-mentality to arrive to where I am today: Positively happy and glowing in a slightly bigger body.
Cheryl Richardson, in her newsletter this week, summed it up perfectly:
You have to want a deeper, more conscious relationship with yourself more than you want to be comfortable or thin.
Ok people, this is so important that I’m going to say it again:
You have to want a deeper, more conscious relationship with yourself more than you want to be comfortable or thin.
It took me many, many, many years of being so nasty to myself bring me to where I am today. But there came a point when I said, Stop the Insanity! The negative self-talk tapes began to wear thin (no pun intended) on me, and it was a struggle to keep up a lower weight that wasn’t meant for me during this time in my life. Through the help of workshops, therapists, dietitians, friends, family, and LOTS, and I mean, LOTS, of self exploration, I realized that my relationship with myself and my body was more important than being thin.
I know this sounds cliche, but I still can’t believe I can utter the above sentence. I’m not going to lie–accepting yourself (and not even LOVING yourself, but just merely being OK with where you are now) can be an uncomfortable, tough place to be. When the rest of the world and your friends are dieting away, and you’re just trying to figure out if your body wants ice cream or just tired, it’s uncomfortable. And when the scale creeps up instead of down, and your skinny jeans no longer fit, it’s uncomfortable.
But that moment when you decide, You know what? I don’t give a fuck, is worth it. Believe me, it’s so worth it.
I just took some headshots this weekend and when I looked at the photos, the first thought was: Damn, I look good! Not: my thighs look big, and oh-my-god, do I have a tricep-waddle? Ok, maybe that creeped in a bit, I am only human, after all. But it feels so good to celebrate myself and my beauty.
If you’re not ready to give up on your attachment to being “thin,” whatever that means to you, that’s OK. But I promise that one day you’ll want to change that tape in your head. And when you’re ready, come talk to me, and we’ll start you on the right path.
I was doing some looking around my blog stats last night and came across an interesting area: searches people made that led them to my blog. Meaning: what phrases or words did they use that led them here. Well, now, that’s very interesting!
There were some “recipes” searches, a “zumba cake”‘ search, which I have no idea what that means, and some other nutrition searches. But do you know what the most searches were for? Guilt around eating. One search was: “I feel guilty for overeating.” Another was “I eat standing up the kitchen and I feel badly” and “Is overeating more than two days in a row bad?”
Whoever typed these words in the search box, this is for you: I hear you loud and clear. Trust me.
And now let me add: You should never, EVER feel guilty when it comes to food. In fact, the taste of guilt is so awful that it ruins every food or meal you eat, even if it’s a Jaques Torres chocolate chip cookie (and that is as near perfection as you can get).
What these searches tell me is that women (and men, too) are asking for help, for someone to tell them that it’s OK to feel how they are feeling, to not feel so alone behind their computer screen. People, it’s OK. I’ve feared food for over 15 years of my life…so much so that one time when I was alone in my apartment, I ate a cookie and then started hysterically crying because I felt so ashamed, and called my husband to tell him I was a bad person for eating a cookie. He thought I was nuts. Perhaps I was, but at the time it felt so real.
I’m not sure where this is going, honestly. But for all the wonderful people out there searching for an answer to their war with food, eating, and body image, my message to you is to keep working. The solution to your problems lies not within a potato chip but within yourself.
Once you learn to ask yourself, “Why am I turning to food,” and “Why is food such a big part of my life? What else in my life brings me joy?” and “What emotions am I feeling now that I hope this cookie will solve” only THEN will you begin the true road to peace with food.
My journey is just that…a journey. I’m still walking my path, working every day on healing my relationship with food…I came from a pretty desperate place for many years, too. And I still have my moments, my days, my weeks even, when everything I know flies out the window and I eat foods that don’t agree with me, or shove organic dark chocolate down my throat at such an alarming rate I even scare myself. It happens, and it might always happen for me. However, have found so many places and people to turn to for support which has been priceless for me.
So, to the person who wanted to know, “Is it bad that I overate 2 days in a row,” the answer is unequivocally “NO.” It’s not bad at all…and throw out that word!
My purpose of this blog, after all, is to share my story, my nutrition tips, and yes, smiles and laughs, so that others can learn and therefore begin to heal themselves. You are not alone. I’m right here with you.
I hope you had a wonderful July 4th Celebration! I spent a fabulous 4 days in our house in the Berkshires, lounging around, eating good food, swimming in the lake, and spending time with my family, including my brother, sister-in-law, 2 year old nephew Gabe and 10 week old niece, Sasha.
I love watching children around food, because we ALL started our lives with a normal relationship to food, aka Intuitive Eating. Then life happens to us, we get older, form ridiculous rules and guidelines, diets happen, and as Gabe would say, Kaboom–”normal” eating goes out the window. So it delightful to be reminded of how human beings truly were meant to eat.
1. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. Always the simplest and most direct guideline, but often the most difficult (I know it is for me). Gabe would eat when he was hungry and stop when he was full, no matter how much food he had left on his plate. Even if it meant setting him up in his high chair, preparing his meal, only to have him take 1 bite and proclaim himself finished!
2. If you don’t like what you’re eating, stop eating it and ask for something different. It’s amazing how a little boy could put down a sandwich after one bite, say “Yuck” and then ask for what he REALLY wanted. How often have you eating a meal because it was in front of you when you could’ve ordered something else.
3. Prepare. I’m not a mother yet, but if you are or have friends with children, you know it’s all about thinking ahead and preparing. Wherever we went we were armed with a juice box, raisins, animal crackers, or some other snack. Do the same for yourself. Don’t get stuck without the food that YOU like…always prepare!
4. You can always eat again later. I love how Gabe would eat his meal and then an hour later, want to eat again. Does that happen to you? You eat a meal and then you feel hungry, but you say to yourself, How can that be? I JUST ate? Perhaps you had a light meal, you’re catching up for eating less food the day before, or your meal was devoid of fiber, fat, or protein. If you’re body is hungry, eat! Or, you can try drinking some water or tea first, because many times we confuse hunger with thirst.
5. Make eating fun. Watching a child eat is fun, right? Messy, too. But when a child is in the mood to eat, they delight in it. I couldn’t tear a bag of Pirate’s Booty away from my nephew, and I enjoyed watching him eat with gusto. So, enjoy your food!
6. Sharing is caring. I am blown away at how good of a sharer Gabe is. If I asked for an animal cracker, he would take one and place it in my mouth. And then he would keep going, offering me his snacks with a huge smile on his adorable face. So often we (me included) enter this place of scarcity with food. We have to eat fast, fast, fast before someone gets our portion. And, oh no! What happens when I get to the bottom of the bag? Well, the answer is…you can always buy more. Share what you love with others. Except if it’s a tiny square of dark chocolate. I take that all for myself.
So go ahead and bring out your inner child! Not only with food, but with life itself. Go ahead: have fun, giggle, and make a mess!
I just had a thought I wanted to share. And yes, I am procrastinating.
I just had a lovely walk on a hot evening around my Brooklyn ‘nabe. People were out and about, happy in the warm evening weather. I was with my dog and my husband and all was good. Really good. We made a stop at an ice cream joint where I got a delicious cappuccino chunk ice cream (kiddie size) in a sugar cone. We sat on a bench licking our cones (my goodness, that sounds naughty), people watching, and just relaxing.
And then this thought popped into my head: This is what nutrition is to me.
It’s not about the 200 calories that was in my ice cream. The fat grams and the sugar that by any nutritonal standards is deemed as “bad.” I’ve spent 15 years of my life thinking nutrition was all about fats, calories, protein, good vs bad foods. And the guilt. OH, the guilt.
But now, to me, nutrition is….enjoying a blissful night, surrounded by everything I love, eating a f$*cking ice cream cone. I’m completely satisfied, and my body is thanking me.
And by dark side, I mean…the Dieting Side. Or the Cookie Monster side. Let me explain…
I’m in the middle of finals. One class down (actually, the final was cancelled, so automatic A!) and another one to go. I just finished a big project due today. I’m working full time. Matt is at a business conference in sunny Palm Beach and so I am taking care of the Gola Monster alone. It’s a lot, and I’m stressed. And when I’m stressed, I eat (I eat because I am unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat. Movie reference, anyone?) How I wish I was one of those people who lose their appetite during times like this, but alas, not in the cards. Add to that the fact that with my hectic schedule, my workouts have gone from 5-6x/week to about 2x. I’m tired, burnt out, my clothes are tight, and I want a vacation.
So, given all of the above, people handle their stress load in different ways. Some, like many people I know, head to the nearest bar and drink their sorrows away (OK, sometimes nothing quite does it like a glass of wine…or a margarita). Others smoke cigarettes or pot to escape. Or gamble. Well, me? I *used* to exercise, so now…I just eat.
Mind you, I’m not binging like I was like last year. In fact, I haven’t had a binge in several months. But my weight is creeping up, and because I follow the principles of Intuitive Eating, I don’t diet either.
But I hear that Dark Side calling me.
“Come on, Amanda,” it whispers in my ear. “Go back to tracking your calories. You’ll lose the weight fast.”
“Amanda, you know you’re gaining weight and it scares you. How about a little diet to get you back to where you want to me. It won’t hurt, promise.”
People, I’ve been dealing with these inner taunts the past week or so and I’m remaining strong, but I tell you, it’s hard! It would be so simple for me to follow a meal plan, cottage cheese and carrot sticks when I’m told, to ignore my cravings for something warm and cheese-covered.
But NO! Like Luke Skywalker (sorry, lame-o reference) I will remain strong and RESIST the Diet Side!
I am working on accepting that in times of stress, my way of coping is to eat. I might always have this food-mood connection. But what am I doing to manage it? I’m cooking, stocking the fridge with healthy foods, and allowing myself to eat chocolate and soothe myself with food if I need to. I refuse to get angry at myself and my body. We’re a team!
I know this is a rant, but I just wanted to share what I’m going through, because perhaps you, too, eat when you’re stressed. It’s OK if you do. The key is to not get upset with yourself, and at least recognize that you’re doing this. That’s all. Information is power. Perhaps next time a wave of stress hits you, you’ll better manage it with a walk around the block or a bath. But for now, food will have to do. Again, it’s OK. Just be aware.
Nobody’s perfect, certainly not me. Even someone who knows about nutrition struggles with the same things everyone else does (Hello, that’s why we go into nutrition…to help others!)
How do you handle stress?
Intuitive Dressing: How to Discover Your Style Using Intuition as Your Guide: Bridgette Raes, Style Expert
Of course, I immediately related this thought to getting dressed realizing that, just like my friend Amanda could learn how to intuitively eat, we can all learn how to intuitively dress. “What an amazing idea!” I thought, “Intuitive dressing!”
Since intuition is rarely used by most, especially around clothing, I’m going to share some thoughts that can help you become an intuitive dresser in no time:
#1- Stop thinking so much
The biggest problem most people have is that they think too much, especially women. Personally speaking, I can over-think something until the fun is almost completely drained and all I have left is what looks like a deflated balloon of an awesome idea. That said, the first thing I want you all to do is to devote one day a week, for the next month, where you let go and wear what you want. I don’t really care what your intuitive self wants to wear, listen to it and have some fun. Wear rain boots with an evening gown, glitter in your hair with a cape and sexy underwear, a flannel shirt with a tutu, it doesn’t matter, just do it. I don’t care if you sit in your house on a Sunday and practice this intuitive dressing exercise while emptying your Tivo queue. Just give one day a week for the next month to loosen up and listen to something other than your brain.
Can’t hear anything? Well, intuition is one of those “use it, or lose it” types of senses, and the longer you’ve been ignoring your intuition, the less “loud and proud” you’ll hear it. Don’t worry, it’s not gone forever, it just needs you to pay attention to it.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re reading this and you think this exercise is silly, then you’re someone who really needs to do it.
In time, you’ll balance out and you may find that tapping into the more intuitive side of yourself will actually help you get dressed and create a little more trust in yourself. So many women are desperately trying to find their style, yet look outside of themselves to find it. Let me be clear, your style is NOT found in a magazine. Which leads me perfectly to my next suggestion…
#2- STOP reading fashion magazines!
I’m not suggesting that you give them up forever. To some, Vogue is the bible, I get it. However, if you are one of those slaves to magazines, or to television shows telling you what’s hot, all while finding yourself concerned about being “acceptably trendy”, then YOU need to put yourself on a magazine diet for the next month!
Fashion magazines are fine. I’m not insinuating that they’re written by the devil, or anything. Nevertheless, you need the proper perspective on how a magazine can serve you, so that you’re not serving it. We draw inspiration from a magazine, shop a bit and may even learn a thing or two. Having said that, finding your style by having a magazine tell you what to wear is going to keep you running in circles forever. Fashion changes rapidly and the best way to keep up is to know your style first and then use a magazine as a tool to help you choose what will and won’t work for you and your style.
It’s true, I do use magazines while trying to unearth a client’s style, and I do recommend magazine exercises to my clients. Yet, when I suggest this exercise to women who hire me, the rule is that they look at an image in a magazine for no longer than 5-10 seconds and if their gut (a.k.a. intuition) tells them to rip it out, they do. This exercise of discovery helps my clients find and trust their intuitions while exploring their own personal style.
Why are we so afraid of our feelings? Heck, I didn’t know what a feeling was until after I spent a year on a therapist’s couch. Often, if a feeling does come bubbling to the surface, many of us push it back down, never to be heard from again.
The only way to know yourself is to feel your way through it. Knowing yourself is not a cerebral experience. There is nothing that your brain can tell you about yourself, I promise you. Finding yourself and your style is found through the way of feeling.
So what does that mean in a practical sense? Well, it means that when you get dressed, you take a moment to ask yourself how you feel in what you’re wearing. Look, if you feel like an unfeminine schlepp when you get dressed then it’s important to pay attention to that, and do something about. It doesn’t matter if someone else thinks your uninspired, unfeminine, schlepp-y outfit is fabulous, or that a magazine says it’s the best thing to wear. All that matters is what YOU feel. When you go shopping, go for emotion, ask yourself how you feel when you put something on and take note of things like your body language and the way you carry yourself.
This is not to say that you abandon all practicality and reason from your clothing choices. It means finding emotion within the realm of what’s acceptable in your life. So, please don’t go to work wearing a G-string, a denim jacket and a fireman’s hat claiming me as the reason for your outfit.
Intuitive Dressing is as easy as you let it be. The success of it has more to do with what you don’t do than what you do, do. It’s not something that money can buy, the right earrings will solve or the perfect skinny jean will rectify. Intuition is like the best accessory that’s just sitting back there in the closet waiting for you to discover it.
Style Expert, Bridgette Raes is the author of the book ‘Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want’, has cleaned out oodles of closets and helped tons of women revamp their styles. She travels incessantly, has doled out her opinion to The Boston Globe, iVillage, Real Simple Magazine, Good Morning America, CNN and more. She rarely reads fashion magazines and thinks her sense of humor is her greatest accessory.
So, I’m sitting here (finally, the puppy is sleeping!) trying to get some studying done for a Chemistry exam on Thursday. Chemistry is my least favorite subject so far (my teacher is the head wackadoo of all teachers), and I could picture one billion things I’d rather be doing than studying right now.
Last semester I noticed that in order to put off doing my work, I’d grab some food. If I was snacking I wouldn’t have to do my work, right? Right. Unfortunately, all that this habit left me was an extra 5 pounds and less sleep. I’ve been working hard at dismantling my triggers with food, but nothing brings out the habits like studying!
So, what just happened 5 minutes ago? I cracked open my Chem book, opened the computer, and then as if on auto-pilot, I went to the frige, got out a muffin, and brought it back into the office with me. Mid-bite, I stopped! I had a conversation in my head that went something like this:
“Amanda, are you hungry?”
“Come on, tell me the truth. Are you hungry.”
“So, why are you eating this muffin.”
“Because I don’t want to do work.”
“A-ha. That makes sense. You don’t want to do work so you’re eating instead. Is it helping?
“Well, not really, since I’m aware that I’m using food to procrastinate, and I know the work will be there when I finish.”
“Exactly. Why don’t you put the muffin down, and if you still want it AFTER some studying, by all means have it! But, this time you’ll put it on a plate and eat it at the kitchen table.”
“Sounds like a deal!”
There you go…a little glimpse into my psyche. This happens ALL the time with me. I continually ask myself, “Am I hungry,” “Do you need to eat this,” and the most important, “WHAT DO YOU NEED RIGHT NOW?”
In this case, right now I need to get studying. But I know I’m exhausted from being up early with the dog 2 days in a row. I need rest, sleep, and yoga, which I will give myself later today.
I’m chuckling thinking about how this posting is just another form of procastination, but hey, at least it’s not a muffin!
Enjoy your weekend!
As many of you know, after 10 long years of dieting and trying to morph my body into something it, quite simply, is not, I’ve given up my pipe dream. Alas, I’m not going to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. I’m hard at work at Intuitive Eating, learning to trust my body, myself around food, and handle my emotions (rather than binge eating).
In my spare time, I’ve been reading every book I can get my hands on and joining every group, subscribing to every newsletter, about Intuitive Eating. Currently I’m enrolled in an 8-week program called Total Immersion Intuitive Eating with coach JoLaine Jones (don’t you just love that name?) of Genuine You Coaching, honing my self-love skills.
However, during my search, I came across an incredible movement called Health at Every Size (HAES), started by author Linda Bacon, PhD. What is this movement? According to Bacon’s book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight:
Let’s face facts. We’ve lost the war on obesity. Fighting fat hasn’t made the fat go away. And being thinner, even if we knew how to successfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health… Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.
Health at Every Size is the new peace movement.
Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people—of all sizes—in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.
The HAES movement encourages people of all sizes to improve their health through improving, and honoring, their relationship with their body. We should adopt a healthy lifestyle out of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for our body, not to be a number on a scale or a size tag inside our pants.
As someone who has struggled with body image, binge eating, and dieting for much of my young adulthood, this is something that truly resonates with me.
I encourage you to check out the HAES website, sign their pledge, join the community, and start taking steps to love yourself…and others…totally and completely.
UPDATE: I am honored that Linda Bacon PhD herself has commented on this post. Truly in awe! The correction she made is that the HAES movement has been in existence before Linda did her research and wrote her book, and she is just one of the many “freedom fighters,” as she calls herself and her colleagues, working to get the Health at Any Size Message out there. Thank you, Linda!
Yes, I know I’ve neglected you since Thanksgiving. It’s been crazy hectic in my life, and I needed to take a little break and get things in order. I’d rather write when I’m feeling inspired rather than rush to put something together just for the sake of it.
Today, I have a VERY important annoucement. I am OFF dieting. Yup, you heard me. O-F-F D-I-E-T-I-N-G. No more. Nada. And guess what else is really shocking? I’ve been eating sugar. Yup. I’ve been eating sugar EVERY DAY for the past 2 weeks and it’s been AWESOME. Seriously, I LOVE chocolate. I forgot how much. Do you want to know how many times I’ve had a binge? NONE. Zip. And do you want to know how happy I am? Extremely. Immensely. So happy I want to run around nekkid. (not really, but you get the point)
The Universe delivered the book “Intuitive Eating” into my hands about 3 weeks ago. This book “spoke” to me, and related to me, in ways that were so spot in it was spooky. I started crying after I read the Introduction. I recognize, from reading, that my chronic dieting, and dieting mindset, has really held me back. At points, when reading, I was so shocked that I could let my thinking get so far off course. So, I have started my path as an intuitive eater, which means, in a nutshell, that I listen to my body for what it wants, and I give it exactly that. I eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, and give myself permission to eat whenever and whatever I want (there are no good and bad foods).
The most important factor, which is very strange to me, is that weight loss is NOT the goal. Rather, gently letting your body reach it’s natural weight is the goal. It takes time…months, maybe even a year. But your body knows best, (and if you let it have whatever it wants, it will naturally want healthy foods, which luckily I enjoy). I must admit, I have no clue what my natural body weight even IS. I lost a lot of weight in college (through proper diet and exercise) and then after college, spent the years dieting, restricting myself (and binging, too) and spending hours in the gym. I kept that up for a good long while..until I couldn’t any longer. Fast forward to now..after a very tough semester and turning to food to help me get through the stress, I’m heavier than I have been in years. So who knows. But the major shift, again, is actually NOT CARING. I am more in love with living a life peacefully with food than fitting into a super small size.
So, this is my new adventure, and I’m giving it everything I’ve got. I went to the grocery store last night and allowed myself to buy whatever looked good. In addition to my favorites (which are healthy), i picked up Salt and Vinegar potato chips, gluten free fig newtons, laughing cow cheese, chocolate jello pudding, and the most amazing chocolate ever–Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt. And now that I’ve been allowing myself to have these foods around the house, they kinda lose their allure. I had one square of chocolate, savored it, and I was satisfied. Imagine that.
So, won’t you please join me on my path to eating intuitively. If my journey is anything like other “IE” eaters, it’s going to be bumpy and rocky. Two steps forward and one step back. It will take time. But, for me, I see a shift already. I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can stop putting pressure on myself to be the “perfect” eater. Now, I can just be.
Check out the website and feel free to ask me any questions about the process. For your reference, below are the 10 guidelines for Intuitive Eating, taken from the website.
Intuitive Eating Principles
1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
10 Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts