In part one of this series, which was a little bit longer ago than I had intended it to be I looked at what intuitive eating really is, we went through the ten principles and I talked about why I think we, as a society could really benefit from IE in regards to cracking the diet mentality. If you missed part one I highly encourage you to read up on the process of IE, right here.
Alright *deep breath*, time to be completely honest about why I am giving intuitive eating a red hot crack. I want to be honest about this for two reasons:
- I feel like it may be a release for me to write it all out. I think writing everything out helps me to process what I have been doing and to help myself understand my behaviors. So in part, this is a selfish post.
- In another way, I am writing this because I can now see the unhealthiness of my behaviors and I can see what I was doing, how it was really affecting me. I have a hope that someone else will read this and see their ways in what I am saying- maybe I can encourage someone to break out of the diet mentality, to stop seeing foods as "good" and "bad", to end the food restriction.
I guess the first thing I need to tell you is what unhealthy behaviors I have now recognized in myself. I cannot stress that at the time I thought I was just on my journey to health and wellness- that was my goal to be the epitome of health and wellness, to have a life (and body) that resembled those that I see on Instagram.
It started with counting my calories (again). I am no stranger to the deep dark hole of counting calories but this time it was a step further than I have ever gone before. I used an online macro calculator to determine how many calories I thought I was supposed to be eating. At first I was just loosely tracking, you know not being too serious about it- still letting myself eat normally. It was more of a food diary than me watching what I ate at that point.
Somewhere along the way I stopped taking it so lightly- I stoped guessing the weights and started weighing my food religiously, down to the last gram. I remember one night we got takeaway after a HUGE week and I sat there and weighed my fish and chips so I could accurately put it into My Fitness Pal. If I ate all my calories in one morning, well I wasn’t eating dinner. I stopped going out because I didn’t want to waste my calories. I remember going out once to the local pub for a friends birthday, I skipped lunch that day and pre-determined which alcohol had the least calories and how many I could have.
I was setting all these rules around my food- nothing high in calories, protein with every meal, no liquid calories, limited dairy, no sugar overloaded snacks, veggies veggies veggies!!! It got to a point where I was obsessed with food and what I was fueling my body with and it was starting to consume my life. I would go for my morning walk and mentally calculate how many calories I was going to have for breakfast. I was hungry at work but was I going to let myself eat at a time I had not set as “food time” hell no! I was going to sit there and day dream about the food I had just walked past in the bakery.
Then it happened. I started binge eating. At first I was just annoyed that I was continuously going over my calories with food that I didn’t eat. You see what would happened was, I would restrict and be “good” ALL day, and then I would come home from work at 5:30pm and eat everything. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how to stop. It was like my body was telling to me to just keep going, this was the last of the food and I had to eat it all. I would mindlessly and uncontrollably eat these huge amounts of food, whatever I could get my hands on- Brodie’s block of chocolate on the fridge, the packet of smarties I brought for cooling, the sugar free brownies I made for my snacks for the week. The urge to eat was uncontrollable and often I would eat until I was feeling so sick I had to lay down. I stopped eating dinner, heck I stopped cooking it at all. Because I was eating so much food once I got home from work I couldn’t even look at food without feeling unwell.
It was one night at dinner that I decided I couldn’t do this anymore. I was sitting opposite Brodie pushing my mashed potato around my plate and thinking of the half a block of coconut rough chocolate among other things I had engulfed just a few hours earlier.
I googled “how to stop binge eating”. Everything told me to seek help. I made a doctors appointment.
Everything told me to stop counting my calories. I deleted MyFitnessPal. Deleting that app, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, a weight I had put on there myself and promptly forgot about.
I saw a doctor. I got the help. I still struggle every now and again but it’s just another step on my journey to feeling well again. At times I think I’m making absolutely no progress and think about re-downloading the app- I don’t. I know that my mental health is more important than counting how many calories I put in the body.
Using intuitive eating- it’s helping. At first I saw some weight gain and I considered stopping this whole thing. I was scared. But I kept going, I knew that it was going to help me in the long run. A few weeks of confusion and maybe a bit of overeating ensued, my body was still telling me that we needed to eat everything and anything. I was probably using that as an excuse to eat all the foods I didn’t allow myself to eat previously.
Now, two months on, I’ve learnt to eat when I’m hungry and to stop when I’m comfortably full. I eat the foods that my body needs to keep going, and somethings that’s ice cream, but more often than not it’s something full of nutrients. I’m still on my journey, but I’m getting there.