" For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. " Song of Solomon

July 31, 2008

A Day of Intuitive Eating

UPDATE: I've lost the pound I gained on vacation...and an additional .7!! for a grand total lost to date of 15.7....nearing my 20 pounds lost goal.

Since I’ve returned home from vacation I’ve been able to be more focused and eat intuitively once again. To eat intuitively, I cannot eat on auto pilot. I have to pay attention to several things: What am I hungry for? Am I physically hungry? Once I begin eating, where am I on the hunger scale? Am I eating too fast?

That last thing in the list is important, because I find if I eat too fast it is hard to stay attuned to my hunger level…I’ll pass “full” without realizing it if I go too fast. Slowing down allows me to note where I’m at and gives my brain time to catch up with my stomach. Any of us who’ve been on Weight Watchers for any length of time have heard that it takes about 20 minutes for the message to get to your brain that your stomach is full.

When I first heard that I found it interesting. I was always a very slow eater and never had a weight problem prior to meeting my husband. But he made comments about how long it took me to finish a meal on a date, and thereafter I made a point to speed up. Silly me---I basically shot myself in the foot.

Another time, not long after we were married, he observed me eating a cookie. He commented: “do you really need that?’ Thereafter, I continued to eat cookies when I desired, but not in front of him---- and take note---I hid the cookies. That made the cookies seem “forbidden” and induced guilt when I ate them which only served to make me feel like a loser, a “cheat”… and that led me to seek solace in said cookies---a vicious cycle indeed.

Had I a lick of sense in my silly head, I’d have told him to shut up---but I was only 18 and madly in love. If I could roll back the curtain of time, those scenes would have played out differently. But, that was then, this is now. NOW I’m relearning what I intuitively practiced for so many years--the years when I wasn’t fat and the issue of weight was a non-issue.

So…today, being back home, life back to normal I was able to totally practice IE. I was curious about how many calories I’d actually eaten “intuitively”. I decided to tally them up. What follows is a list of the food I ate today, in order of eating, along with the calorie count. Note: I ate what I was hungry for at the time.

Breakfast: one cup of coffee with 2 teaspoons of ½ and ½……15 calories; one half of a Lara Bar…..100 calories. ( I just wasn’t hungry this morning.) Total: 115K

Lunch: a BLT consisting of 2 slices of bread….140K; 2 slices of bacon….90K; ½ tablespoons of light mayo….25K; tomato ….10K; lettuce….5K; ½ cup cantaloupe….50K; a glass of unsweetened iced tea. Total: 320

Mid-afternoon found me at : Starbucks!! One half of an orange cranberry scone…230K; a large unsweetened iced coffee with ¼ cup whole milk….40K; and a tablespoon of ½ and ½….20K. Total: 290

Supper: Taco salad comprised of----salad….15K; salsa….25K; Nacho chips….65K; 2 ounces lean ground beef…..80K; ½ cup kidney beans….55K; salad dressing….50K; ½ ounce Colby cheese…55K Total: 345

Evening snack: the rest of my Cranberry orange scone….230K; a cup of unsweetened Indian spiced chai with low fat milk…..30K. Total: 260

Grand Total: 1330

I was really surprised at how low the calorie count was. One, because I ate what I “wanted”…and two---I had a scone from Starbucks!!!

I noted that I was hungry after supper (when I finished off the scone), owing I believe to eating so little at breakfast. Normally I eat more at breakfast, but today I was just not hungry. Also, I imagine had I eaten breakfast it’s likely I wouldn’t have been hungry for the scone after lunch.

I find this practice---eating intuitively and then when I’m “done” for the day, tallying everything up---confirms that if I listen to myself---look inside for what to eat, how much to eat---- that instinctively I will know what, and how much to eat. Amazingly, kicking the food police out of my head and releasing myself from their influence has had the effect of unshackling me from the bondage to food I found myself in.

While I don’t think everyone’s eating problems stem from emotional issues---I think a great many of us do have emotionally disordered eating and dieting only adds to the problem and adds to our burden.

Again, I encourage you to read the book, particularly if you find yourself struggling in your current method/plan or just needing something to augment the process. As I said in a previous post---my former plan of eating the number of calories per day that it would take to maintain my desired weight worked as far as setting the parameter for my eating that would lend itself to weight loss----but it had little effect on the reason I tend to need to overeat.

Addressing the “why” is most important, in my opinion. Why is enough food never enough? Why must I always eat to the point of---in fact feel driven to --- being so full that I am uncomfortable? That is not a normal behavior, though it is quite common. I think it is only at the point of being too full that I felt I was able to say “I’ll decide…no one and no-thing is going dictate what I can eat .” I was, in effect, repeatedly declaring my freedom.

Even if I had not decided to do IE whole hog, just using the hunger scale to help me keep within the defined 1600 calories on average per day parameter would have been a huge help. Why? Because I found, for myself, that no matter the amount, be it 1200 calories or 2200 calories, I’d always want “more”. The reason? Because any “allowed” amount, small or generous, “forbids” me to eat past a certain point…it restricts me. And that restriction only serves to make me want more, to be free to have more…I want to-- in fact have a need to---push against that boundary. Having an artificial indicator to end eating does little to affect the desire within. We may through sheer will power stop our eating, but the desire to continue resides within…unless it is confronted and dealt with.

Freedom--whether it be in eating, life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness is the prize we reach for more than any other thing I can think of. It is the thing we will fight for--- yea, die for---- if need be.

Overeating, gluttony, is a killer for sure. The Bible says the glutton may as well put a knife to his throat? Why, you ask? Well, a knife to the throat will kill you surely, as will overeating, gluttony. May as well do it quickly with the knife. A slow death is never desirable--for who desires prolonged suffering and misery?

It was high time for me to quit using overeating as a declaration of independence. I give/gave myself permission to decide what I may eat, how much I may eat, when I may eat. Let freedom ring!
If you haven’t read Kathy’s post “One Perfect Bite” be sure to do so…It’s insightful and after having read it, all day I searched for the perfect bite discovering once again how delightful it is to truly savor and enjoy my food.
"....there have been many times when I have shed bitter tears, when if I had understood the situation better, I would have celebrated my good luck instead."


I am not a doctor and all information, suggestions, etc are my personal opinion only.