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Eating my Intuition

Posted Aug 18 2011 11:39pm
[[disclaimer: This is a rather heavy post, please feel free to skip over it if you choose.  It's definitely not the typical ELD post, but I need to get this out there.]]

[[also, please excuse the lack of photos]]

Never in my life have I been skinny.  Yes, by most standards I was thin, but I’ve always had that layer of baby fat that would never go away.  I was always slightly above average, and have never been underweight. As child and adolescent, I always ate intuitively.  I loved every kind of food, especially my veggies – I know, strange child.  But I was always hungry – so I ate!  I had the miracle-metabolism of a growing man, so for years I ate as much as I wanted, whatever I wanted, and never gained a pound.

Then puberty came – and rather late for that matter.  I was 16 already when my body started seriously changing.  Among other things, my metabolism slowed way down – but my hunger did not change.  My intuition did not adjust to what my body needed, or didn’t anymore.  I continued to eat enough food in a day to nourish a grown man – probably twice as much as my body needed.  By the time I was 18, the ‘body-conscious’ hormone kicked in.  No, I did not develop an eating disorders, but my already low self-esteem fell even further – and I dealt with it in my way.  I continued to eat.  Food always made me feel better – it would never feel unfamiliar, like my ever-shrinking jeans did.

I refused to believe I was doing anything wrong.  I started exercising regularly, but it barely changed anything.  What could be bad if I ate what I was craving when I was craving it? What I didn’t realize was that I was confusing cravings with the want to eat.  My intuition failed me.  By the summer after my freshman year of college, I had packed on 20+ pounds, and I was eating intuitively.

I know this is not the typical post about intuitive eating – I had no fear of food at the time.  It was a comfort, something to make me feel better in the moment, and it just felt right.

I know this is post is very similar to my story page , but I needed to get it out again.  After joining the blog world, I’ve read so many posts about how intuitive eating is good for the body and mind.  After a few months of mild restriction and meal planning, I managed to lose the weight and get fit. For the first time in years, I was not afraid to show off my body – I convinced myself I was happy.  And the truth is, I was not unhappy.  I didn’t hate the way I looked, but I had to work darn hard to maintain it.

I ate a healthy amount, but I didn’t eat intuitively. After reading a million and one posts about overcoming fear foods and eating intuitively, I thought ‘hey, why can’t I do that?’ So that’s what I’ve done this summer.  Although I’ve been generally healthier and more in touch with what my body needs, my intuition still fails me – I’ve gained over half of the weight back.  A good part of it is probably muscle, but I that’s not all of it – I can physically see and feel the difference in the way my clothes fit, and it still gets to me.  I refuse to believe that my body’s ‘happy weight’ is what would normally be considered overweight for my height.

I look back at the amount of food I consume, and I can tell I’m eating too much – and that I’m once again eating out of boredom and lack of company.  But that’s what my intuition has told me to do.  And many would see this as seriously twisted, but at this point, I don’t trust my intuition.  I don’t trust my brain to get the correct signal from my body, because it was out of whack for so long.

Don’t take this the wrong way – I’m not ‘going on a diet’ or planning to do any serious calorie restriction.  I don’t count calories.  I stay away from scales if I can – they only make me feel worse.  I just need to train my intuition, and I’m realizing that it will be harder and take longer than I thought.  It was way too easy to slip back into my old eating habits, which anyone with disordered eating habits can most likely relate to.

I know this is no clinical ‘condition’ or diagnosable disorder, but this is my kind of recovery, despite being almost completely opposite of the norm.  But this is where I am now, and it is a much better place than the one I was in at the end of my freshman year, or even just a year ago.

I am proud to say that I can look at the big picture now, and try to assess the things I need to work on.  My intuition needs help, and I plan to give it just that – by viewing food as fuel and nutrition, not solely as a comfort or pastime.  This is not to say that I will stop being creative in the kitchen, that would probably do more harm than good.  But the mindless eating has to change, and my food awareness level has to become conscious.

For those of you who got through this post, thanks for reading! I know it’s a lot, and will probably be very controversial to what many readers have been through, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

How do you deal with intuitive eating?

Do you plan your every meal?  Eat when you’re hungry or have a craving?

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