Weight Loss Support - Intuitive eating AND calorie counting?

06-26-2011, 10:53 AM
I'll be honest and say that I know very little about intuitive eating - I have a hold placed on the book at the local library, so I'll be reading it soon.

I've recently entered maintenance. My weight loss was achieved through calorie counting, and I expect to continue calorie counting during my maintenance. It works for me, and I don't mind tracking and planning - I view it as empowering.

However, I have noticed that calorie counting, for me, has some drawbacks. Specifically, I don't think I've really re-learned anything about my body's own natural hunger signals. Instead, I plan when I'll eat, what I'll eat, and stick to the plan. I generally eat for volume, so I'll plan meals (especially dinners) with lots and lots of veggies that leave me feeling very full - not stuffed, of course, but definitely full. Because I've calculated out my meals in advance, I clean my plate at every meal.

I don't think there's anything wrong with this method, but what I've noticed is that, in situations where I'm not in direct control of what's served or can't plan ahead (eating at friends' places, restaurants, etc.) I still feel the desire to clean my plate even when I'm full, OR I feel unsatisfied with a lower volume of high calorie food.

Another issue that I've only recently noticed is that I'm occasionally eating planned foods I don't really want, but stick with because they're planned. For example, I know I'm hungry and need a snack, and eat my planned Greek yogurt even though my Greek yogurt isn't what I want, but I can't figure out what I actually DO want to eat.

I guess what I'm saying is that the idea of intuitive eating (as I understand it) of listening to your body's hunger signals, and feeding it what it wants, sounds really good to me. Again, not as a substitute for calorie counting, or as an excuse to eat brownies all day, but as a supplement for what I already do.

Have any of you had success with both? Would you recommend the book? Or have I totally missed the point of intuitive eating?

06-26-2011, 12:18 PM
Basically, intutive eating is eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied. Satisfied is the big thing. You should not feel full or stuffed. If you do, you've eaten too much. It's pointless to do calorie counting and try to be an intutive eater if you are eating everything just to get the calorie count or because you planned for it. The body really needs a lot less food to feel satisfied. If you are eating sufficient protein, you stay satisfied a lot longer. I used to be a volume eater. I have gradually cut back on eating tons and tons of veggies to a reasonable amount per day and I'm doing just fine with maintenance.

06-26-2011, 12:44 PM
That's an interesting question. Probably what I would do is start off with one or two days a week. Don't plan any food, but at the end of the day, log everything to see how you ended up. If you were way off track (either direction) you have the rest of the week to get your average back into your maintenance range. Sort of like intuitive eating with training wheels :)

06-26-2011, 02:24 PM
Congrats on being in maintenance! If you have been using calorie counting to lose weight, it sounds like to me that you have great tools to eat intuitively and make the best choices while doing so. It sounds like for you it is only a matter of listening to your body more and not planning as much.

Stepping back, a combo of both is what I use to LOSE weight since I am not a huge fan of planning ahead. The planning really comes in regards to what foods you purchase and have on hand. It is also important to be flexible within your day and week. I adjust my meal size based on my hunger, but I still track my calories. Snacks are optional not planned. I track everything I put in my mouth even and especially if it is unhealthy.

The only changes it seems you would need to make is to just be more mindful of when you are full and stop. Make snacks purely optional, but make sure you always have something healthy on hand to snack on.

Use your calorie counting skills to control portion sizes of calorically dense foods. This is important at restaurants and eating at others homes. But even with the best choices, you are going to end up eating more calories then you would if you had made it at home. If you aren't snacking and watch what you are eating the rest of the day or week this won't make much of an impact for you.

I probably eat out more than the average dieter, but my calorie intake tends to average out. Some may be shocked by this, but there are some days when I'm perfectly and honestly satisfied by 900 calories of food. On these days I've eaten A LOT of vegetables and made all my food. If I'm not hungry I don't eat. These days happen not because I plan it, but because my body was satisfied with what I gave it that day. I'm just mindful of my body and I don't force myself to eat if I'm not hungry.

There are some days I want to eat out and those days ALWAYS have higher calorie counts. But because I eat lower calories on some days, the higher calorie days don't really matter long term.