Weight Loss Support - My Problem with Intuitive Eating

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05-26-2010, 02:33 PM
Besides the part where I intuitively ate myself to 250 lbs. But that is not what this is about...

Ok. If I measure out a snack... Let's say it is my 10 "Food Should Taste Good" chips and a laughing cow wedge - you better believe I am going to eat all 10 chips. I am not going to stop at 8 and say "gee, that was satisfying, no need to eat these last two". And I can really say that about most things. If I measure out my portion that is within my plan - I am darn sure going to eat it all.

The thing is, I COULD stop myself at 8 chips and probably feel satisfied... but in an hour or so when I get hungry again, I am going to wish I had those last 2 chips.

Sometimes I hate how much I THINK about food. When I am going to eat. What I am going to eat. How much I am going to eat. Is it "on plan". How do I deal with urges to eat more.

I used to go home and pig out every evening as a way to "unwind". After years and years of doing this, it is hard to break this habit. I am getting better... I am doing good on weeknights, but I still struggle with the weekends. Sometimes I want to "pig out" on a Sunday as a "treat" to myself. But that isn't TREATING myself. That is the OPPOSITE of treating myself. That is undoing all the hard work I did on all the other days. It is TREATING myself like a garbage disposal.

I guess... I don't really know how to "unwind" or "decompress" or "treat" myself in ways that don't involve food.

What are some things you do to unwind, decompress, or treat yourself that are not food related?

Beach Patrol
05-26-2010, 03:08 PM
What are some things you do to unwind, decompress, or treat yourself that are not food related?

I like to swim, so during the spring/summer months, I do a lot of that. And I enjoy reading... also, I like my nails to look nice so I do my pedi & mani.... and a nice long walk on the beach always unwinds me. (most anything nature-y unwinds me... a walk in the park, etc.) :)

05-26-2010, 03:28 PM
You might find this story interesting. I divide up a large bag of Doritos into single-serving zipper bags, because it helps me not overeat.

My "normal" weight roommate sometimes will have a zipper-bagful with lunch. She doesn't always want all of the chips in "a serving." She will close the bag when she's had enough. Then, the bag sits there next to her placemat for days. Days. She forgets about it.

I never do. I see it every time I pass through.

It seems pretty clear that I am not an intuitive eater in the same way she is. I always finish all the chips, no matter what. I can't imagine how she can NOT eat all the chips, first of all, and then, just let them sit there without eating the rest.

So these are habits that take undoing, and it may be that I will never get to the point where I can eat "intuitively" like that.


05-26-2010, 03:30 PM
I can eat broccoli intuitively.

05-26-2010, 03:49 PM
Beach Patrol: Thank you - I love your ideas! I was just thinking I need to take the old polish off my toes and re-do them!

JayEll: I have a friend like that. She would bring a HALF OF A HALF of a Subway for lunch while we were in school. Even when I was thin, at that time, I could still put down all 12 inches and there she is with her THREE inches of Subway. She would eat part of her snack and dispose of the rest!

WarMaiden: Thank you for the LOL!! Hahaha! I love brocolli - but I certainly don't over-eat it!

05-26-2010, 03:57 PM
Actually, I used to overeat broccoli. I used to steam & eat an entire head at a sitting. Now, there might not have been too many calories in that head of broccoli, but allowing myself to eat so much volume just sets me up for an encounter with a higher density calorie food, even if it is something supposedly healthy like brown rice.

So now I eat smaller portions of everything, even broccoli.

05-26-2010, 04:02 PM
My son is still an intuitive eater (he's almost 6). I posted about this before because I sometimes struggle with not wanting him to waste food but I also don't want to teach him to override his ability to stop eating when he's full. Unfortunately, I think intuitive eating gets socialized out of most of us.

Anyway, to answer the question about unwinding, in addition to trying to make myself into a person who uses physical activity for fun and relaxation (still a work in progress!), one thing I've been able to do is rebuild some of my habits. For example, a big one for me is reading. I used to always have a bag or bowl of some sort of snack and munched my way through a book and a whole lot of calories at the same time. So I had to revise that habit, and now I no longer eat when I read. I keep a tall glass of water next to me to sip but no food. If I want to eat something, I stop reading and focus on the food while I am eating it.

Maybe you can take back some the things you were doing along with the eating?

05-26-2010, 04:03 PM
Intuitive eating doesn't work for me. Tried it. I need to count because my intuition says "keep eating".

In terms of what I do to relax - Exercise is a BIG part of it. I have issues with anxiety/panic attacks and cyclic depressive episodes, and eating was always how I dealt with things when my brain chemistry and stress threw my emotions into turmoil. Now, I do yoga for stress and depression, and if I'm anxious or feel a panic attack coming on, I do hardcore cardio - think kickboxing, running, etc. That "I need a release" feeling can be dealt with in physical exercise release just as it can in eating.

I treat myself with food sometimes, still, but in a different way. For me, nurturing myself with food now means finding a really good, healthy ingredient set, cooking myself something while thinking about what a wonderful thing I am doing for my body, and enjoying that home-cooked, truly nourishing meal. I don't go out and order a pile of mac and cheese...I make myself a truly delicious meal of whole wheat spaghetti, lots of veggies, turkey meatballs, and a big side salad.

I am also fond of escapism - baths with a book. Shut the door, take a breath, let go of whatever the stressful trigger is.

05-26-2010, 04:39 PM
I also can't do intuitive eating. For one, it's not structured enough. Even if I'm trying to just eat a healthy meal in moderate portions and enjoy it, I'm constantly wondering "Hmm, have I eaten 1/2 cup? 3/4 cup? And that equals how many calories?" The unknown bothers me. But mostly it didn't work since my I'm-full-stop-eating-now mechanism is broken. By the time I actually want to stop eating is when I'm so full that I'm in pain. Even then, if you offered me dessert, you better believe that I'd eat it. Even if I'm trying really hard to feel for the just satisfied feeling, I simply don't.

That being said, I actually do wind down with food. Shocking, I know. But I've learned how to do it in a healthy, on plan way. My eating habits are definitely NOT the conventional ways that most dieting resources suggest. I don't eat every few hours to keep from getting hungry. I usually don't eat breakfast, or if I do, it isn't until 11am or so. Then I eat a small-medium size lunch. Then nothing until a large dinner. After dinner, I still have about half of the day's calories left for snacking. I still eat healthy snacks, but I am grazing just about all night. I've lost nearly 50lbs in a few months, my metabolism isn't jacked up or anything, and this is a very very maintainable life for me. So while it obviously wouldn't work for everyone, it sure works for me.

Other non-eating things I do to keep my mind busy: Coloring books/activity books (lol, silly I know, but entertaining), cleaning, going shopping, etc.

05-26-2010, 04:50 PM
Actually, I used to overeat broccoli. I used to steam & eat an entire head at a sitting. Now, there might not have been too many calories in that head of broccoli, but allowing myself to eat so much volume just sets me up for an encounter with a higher density calorie food, even if it is something supposedly healthy like brown rice.

So now I eat smaller portions of everything, even broccoli.

Well, see, you probably LIKE broccoli. I don't, not really. I eat it because it's good for me, and I don't dislike it.

That's why I can eat it "intuitively."

To be honest, there is a conspiracy-theorist inside me who believes that intuitive eating is largely promoted with the backing of giant food corporations who know that they'll profit from it. The number of people who can inutitively eat stuff like burgers, fries, milkshakes, cookies, candy, cake...is very small. I don't think that most of us are biochemically capable of eating those items intuitively--because those foods have been specifically, scientifically designed to break past our built-in "intuition" mechanisms.

05-26-2010, 05:08 PM
I could eat intuitively -- maybe, just maybe -- if ...

I moved to a small town in the rural U.S. where I was not exposed to TV or magazines & where my Internet access was stripped of all advertising images.

If all the food I ever saw was when I went to the farmers' market or the old-fashioned kind of store that used to be called a greengrocer or to the kind of markets they still have in Europe.

If the middle aisles of grocery stores & the "food" sections in drugstores didn't exist.

If my neighbors also conspired to keep me living in this Edenic state.

(Yeah, basically, if I joined a cult, no? Became someone's 8th wife & armed myself against the gov't? jk)

Then I wouldn't have any images that might float up into my brain when I thought I was being intuitive & when I was actually retrieving some kind of advertising message.

But no, there's also memory & mine was despoiled long ago, when I was a kid sitting in front of the TV on Saturday morning in footie pajamas eating 2 consecutive bowls of Captain Crunch With Crunchberries. So there are all kinds of foods I'd still remember & "intuitively" crave.

Ain't gonna happen. Wish it could.

06-06-2010, 07:51 PM
I don't know if this has been mentioned yet but if you are serious about wanting to IE or becoming a IE I would go to the IE thread in the general diets forum. Its easier for me to talk openly about IE with others who are IE vs people who are on a diet and have never tried IE or think that IE is eat whatever you want and throw all caution to the wind. IE isn't something that happens over night you learn more and more about yourself everyday and the longer I stick with IE the more I become in tone with my own body.

No one knows your body better then you, so why not listen to it. If your not at least 90% committed to IE or at least have faith in the process then it probably wont work but this is all my opinion I have been IE since late Feb or early March. Good Luck in whatever you choose to do :)

06-06-2010, 07:55 PM
My intuition is to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and as much as I want. Look where that got me! I have to measure and plan out or I am a goner lol!

06-06-2010, 10:12 PM
If you can do intuitive eating, more power to you. It's not a matter of faith in the process or level of commitment, however. I fully embraced intuitive eating in response to "fat acceptance" dogma in the early 90's.

The FA movement at that time strongly pushed IE as a way to find your "natural" body weight. Learn to trust your body, eat what you want, when you're hungry, stop when you're not and you'll end up at your natural body weight weight.

By that logic, my natural body weight is 308 lbs. IE (and FA dogma) allowed me to stop gaining, at a time in my life when that was a miracle in itself. A miracle I embraced for several years (until I herniated a disc, and had to diet and exercise to try to prevent the need for surgery).

For me IE may prevent me from gaining, but it doesn't help me lose. Maybe if I'd found IE at age 10 (the last time I weighed 150 lbs), it would have been a different story.

David Kessler's book, The End of Overeating explains why intuitive eating doesn't work for everyone. A lot depends not only on your genetic makeup, but also the foods you are eating. It's possible that some foods are impossible to eat intuitively (at least by most folks). Even lab animals will overeat in response to certain food and environmental cues. Experiments have shown that some lab animals (there are genetic and environmental factors) overeat in response to stress (and the foods they're most likely to overeat if given the opportunity will choose but fatty, sweet carbs (add salt and you've got an addictive combination too tempting for most to resist), if given the choice between whole foods and foods with those properties (processed foods desingned to be irresistable).

I don't think rats have "emotional issues," and I'm pretty sure they all eat intuitively. I don't think they're not consciously over-riding their instincts - I think they're acting according to those instincts.

Also, if you look at the insulin and blood sugar cycles, some foods (high glycemic carbohydrates) cause insulin spikes (and possibly reactive hypoglycemia) - both cause hunger - PHYSICAL hunger, so intuitive eating won't prevent that. If you're eating foods that make you hungrier, your intuition is going to tell you to eat.

I found that if I drastically restrict carbohydrates, I don't get hungry in most senses of the world. My husband will notice the signs of hunger before I will, because I'll get irritable and then angry (I don't notice, I think hubby's just being a jerk). I won't notice until my hands start to shake and I start to feel light headed (unless hubby notices first, and will ask when I get a bit cranky when I last ate).

I'm not dismissing intuitive eating. It can work for some people, but it doesn't work for everyone. And if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't mean you weren't doing it right, weren't committed enough, or have failed in any way.

06-07-2010, 12:33 AM
I look at my kids as prime examples of that it works for some and doesnt for others.

My son will eat when he is hungry and stop when he is full. It really doesnt matter WHAT the food is. Some days he can eat me under the table. Other days he doesnt eat enough to feed a fly. He eats a wide variety of foods, will try new things and will sometimes walk into the kitchen demanding red peppers.

This morning for example he had a sleepover last night and had cereal and a donut for breakfast (yeah, not my house). Then came home and had scrambled eggs and a banana. Then plain yogurt with blueberries and strawberries. Then crackers. (this was all by about 11:30). For lunch he ate 1/2 of his PB & strawberry sandwich. He loves PB sandwiches. Then at dinner he ate 2 bites of his very favorite dinner of spaghetti and meatloaf and was done.

dd on the other hand will not try new foods, goes on streaks where she wont eat even foods she used to like. But when she does get a food she likes she will binge to the point of making herself sick. She started doing that behavior at under 2 years old.

06-07-2010, 02:38 AM
What are some things you do to unwind, decompress, or treat yourself that are not food related?

Hrm... reading, cleaning, sewing, beading, watching movies with DH, working out, board games, writing in my journal....

Stuff like that.


Beach Patrol
06-07-2010, 10:53 AM
He eats a wide variety of foods, will try new things and will sometimes walk into the kitchen demanding red peppers.

Heh! I just got this totally adorable mental image of your son walking into the kitchen, you're washing dishes, and he looks up & says "Mama! Red Peppers. Now, woman!" :D