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My Intuitive Eating Series- Make Peace With Food

Posted Jun 13 2011 5:21pm

I hope everyone had a nice and relaxing weekend! In case you missed it, here is what I was doing the last few days and I had such a wonderful time. I know it’s once again a gloomy Monday, but we are almost through this day, and another glorious weekend will be here before you realize it :D

Alright, I am done saying what everyone else does on a Monday, now onto a more interesting topic!

When I first saw Nancy Clarke , she understood after a short amount of time that I had issues with food and an unhealthy relationship with my body and exercise…The next question was what was the extent of all of this? Although the basis premise of disordered eating is some kind of irrational view or obsession towards food, it is so much more complex than that. While one person might dangerously restrict, another may not be able to help binging and have weight gain issues. I believe that disordered Eating/EDs are the actions that are expressed from an underlying problem(s) and eating, or not, is the way the person expresses the issues they may not be aware of.

In order to facilitate the arduous recovery process, she suggested that it would be beneficial for me to pick up a few book titles that she recommended. At first I was reluctant to even consider reading something related to the issues I was having. I had never really believed in “self-help” books and saw them as a stigma that you are a mental case that goes through self-help book after another, but never benefits from the advice. (Has anyone seen that Sex and the City episode when Charlotte goes to a book store secretly searching for a self-help book?! It’s a good one, and reminded me of this :) )

I also grouped them as an annoying way for doctors, therapists, nurses, specialists, etc, to ramble on about one topic or another to make a few extra bucks. It seemed these types of books were popping up all over the place, and it was driving me nuts.

However, I bypassed my thoughts somewhat reluctantly and decided to try out one of the suggested titles. The very next day I bought Intuitive Eating on my Kindle and dove right in. At first I thought this book really did not apply to me, because it does focus on people who have gone through and tried countless diets to lose weight. I initially believed the information would only work for women who need to shed some pounds, so of course I questioned why this book would ever be recommended to someone trying to GAIN weight. However after reading a bit more, I realized the aim of the authors is to once again, develop a healthy relationship with food and to stop obsessing about it. Yes, one symptom of this is weigh gain, but another is weight loss and I fit nicely into the latter category.

 

**I would like to note here that I am by no means advertising for this self-help book , or being paid to review any part of it at all. This is just my personal experience with working with the contents and what is introduced. Intuitive Eating is much too lengthy and full of helpful information to work through in one post.**

What I plan to do on my blog is go through the teachings from a few of the chapters that I really need to work on. I am hoping to discuss some of the information that is provided and why I feel these particular matters apply to me more than others. This is the first part of my Intuitive Eating Series- Make Peace With Food. When I read Amanda’s post recently on Honoring Your Hunger , I knew that title sounded familiar, as it’s another chapter from this book. She unknowingly prompted me to look at Intuitive Eating once again :)

I finished the book in about three days, but without really absorbing any of the information and obviously missing the entire point of what I could gain from this experience! I was plowing through this title like I would with any normal book, reading it as fast as I can (while still understanding the story) because I am so darn excited to know what happens in the end. Intuitive Eating is not a normal pleasure read. The aim of the authors is to have you absorb the contents of what they wrote and hopefully apply them to your daily life. The primary goal of intuitive eating is to change your relationship with food, exercise and your body. For the intuitive eating process to be effective, it is believed that one must focus on learning to listen to their body instead of trying to change their body.


The goal of this book is very comparable to what I am striving to do in this recovery process and any extra help in this process is greatly appreciated. So, because I pretty much gained nothing (no pun intended!) the first time I read Intuitive Eating, I decided to reread the whole book a few days ago and noted the chapters that applied to me more than others.

The first one being, 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, binging. Of course this makes perfect sense, when you are told you cannot have something, it makes you want it more. This begins very early on in your life, and continues with you as you grow older. Although part of this chapter focused on food deprivation related to various diets, such as the Grape Fruit Diet, Atkins, etc. I did still come away with several points that helped to me to acknowledge what I need to work on.

  • One of the sub-chapters of Make Peace With Food was “Rebound Eating-Subtle Forms,” something I am definitely guilty of. The example the book used was this, have you ever shared a bowl of cherries or a piece of dessert with someone who eats faster than you? Watch how quickly you dig in because you’re concerned you won’t get enough. I related this to myself by remembering times I have been at a celebration of some sort and one of the options to eat is a fruit salad. For such a long time now, I have felt compelled to eat a majority of it before everyone else does so that I can fill up on fruit as opposed to more “naughty” foods.” I end up binging on copious amounts of water-dense fruits before anyone else can take it away from me and “leave me with nothing to eat” (so I believe).
  • This was another sub-part that interested me, restrained eaters, in essence, are chronic diets who are preoccupied with dieting and weight control. To stay in control with their food, restrained eaters set up rules that dictate how they should eat, rather than listening to their bodies (<– key part of this whole darn thing if you ask me!). I would like to talk about the “rules” I have made for myself in a different post, but I can certainly relate to what is being said here. I had/have countless food rules that help me feel that I am still in control, something I believe lessens my anxiety, rather than making it even more pronounced.

One of the reasons I chose this chapter to focus on first was because of something I have been noticing myself doing lately. Although I have come a very long way in recovery, I still struggle with food and my body on a daily basis. Recognizing these struggles is what is helping to heal, so here is something I need to work on… It’s kind of hard to describe so bear with me with an example:

One morning last week, I discovered with delight that I had a near-empty jar of Trader Joe’s almond butter- yay for OOIAJ! I prepared the meal with rolled oats, almond milk, a banana and cinnamon, your pretty standard combo of oats. The next morning I woke up, worked at my internship very early and came home starving. However, instead of eating that oatmeal, I first grabbed a handful of grapes, raspberries, some blueberries, other mass amounts of fruit and about 1/2 cup of cereal. I did not sit down with these items, just kind of walked around my house and chatted with my mom while stuffing this food into my mouth. It was like I was avoiding what I really wanted and had planned on by filling up or items that I feel more “safe” with.

I do realize that oatmeal is quite healthy, but the breakfast fear still lingers, so I instead consumed foods I believed would not make me fat, as opposed to sitting down with something I really enjoy. I also had the lingering fear that I overestimated how much almond butter was left in the jar (more than 2 tablespoons…oh no!) and could not imagine having so much food in the morning. So of course by the time I was done with my “safe” foods, I was no longer hungry for what I prepared and probably ate more calories than what was in the jar.

Clearly this is not a healthy thing to do. Yes I was still getting plenty of nutrients in from the cereal and fruit, but I was not trying to ignore what I really wanted and needed by stuffing my face with “safe” items. From the book I learned (and believe!) that the key to solving this problem is- Unconditional Permission To Eat: Throwing out the preconceived notion that certain foods are “good” and others are “bad.” And no one food has the power to make you fat or help you become slim. I have clung onto both of the points, good and bad food, and types that are equal to weight gain and weight loss. If I had just consumed what I had prepared from the above example, I would have been full and satisfied, because I ate what I wanted to and had planned on!

Making peace with food means allowing all foods into your eating world. Because I have feared carbs, fats and breakfast in general for such a long time now, I struggled that morning by “giving in” to what I wanted. I find that it’s scary to give up my food rules and restrictions because even the slightest change leads to weight again (what I have clung onto for so very long). What you consider a forbidden food is completely personal, and may deal with avoiding what you truly want in a different way. This just seems to be the way that I attempt to ignore what I want, obviously it doesn’t work very well.

Legalizing food is the critical step in changing my relationship with food. The idea is that it will free me to respond to inner eating signals that have been smothered by negative thoughts and guilt feelings about eating. When you constantly avoid what you want, I think you will never be satisfied with what you eat instead. When I went out my way to pretty much binge on fruit that morning instead of having the oatmeal, I was stuffed after but not really satisfied…oh and I still wanted the oatmeal!

I fear that allowing myself to eat what I desire will lead me down a path where I can’t stop having these foods…. and then weight gain! I am scared it won’t work for me but the book suggests that the process of giving yourself permission to eat is actually the stepping-stone to rebuilding your trust with food and with yourself. In the beginning, each positive food experience is like a tiny thread… these threads eventually form a strand… and then a full-on rope. What I take away from this is small changes certainly do add up, something I have talked about on my blog.

So, in order for me to make peace with food, I am writing out a few changes and ways that I could engage in, in order to achieve my goal!

  • Fear of eating too much at breakfast remains to be a challenge of mine. So at least for the next week, I am going to plan a breakfast for each morning and eat that first, before I go for the “safe foods.” I want to see how I feel after these planned meals and if I still feel the need to have some fruit, then I will, but the scarier item must come first. I had another go at my OOIAJ this morning without having something first, and it was exactly what I craved :D

  • When I really want something, even if it’s just a bite or a nibble at a “bad” food, well have a damn taste! The hell with eating around what I really want to try, just have a small portion first and then see if you want more. Oh and I will probably end up consuming less calories and will be satisfied!
  • Before I go and open the fridge and start stuffing down whatever I can get my hands on, consider if I really want whatever it is first and then slowly try it.

I am plan to tackle down chapters from this book a bit at a time, so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed and scared by all of the changes I am proposing for myself. Next up: Feel Your Fullness (gahh I need to look back at that one in great detail!)

Are you a fan of self-help books and have you ever benefited from one?

If you are trying to or have achieved making peace with food, how have you done this? Any suggestions?

Anyone with similar struggles willing to join me along this journey of conquering a small part of the information a bit at a time?! It would be so helpful knowing I was not doing this alone :)

 

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