100 lb. Club - Intuitive Eating

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11-27-2005, 06:26 PM
Here is an interesting article I came across. I recall recently there was a discussion about feeling hungry all the time and if it was better to eat or to ignore the hungry pangs. This sort of address that topic. Many of us have had trouble in the past recognizing when we are hungry and when we are full. That along with learning portion control seems to be a very important stepping stones to permeated weight loss.

The Anti-Dieting Diet

Nov 25 (Reuters Health) - Stop dieting. Become an "intuitive eater." It's a better way to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, research suggests.
Intuitive eaters don't diet -- they recognize and respond to internal hunger and fullness cues to regulate food intake, explains Dr. Steven R. Hawks of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, who adopted intuitive eating habits several years ago and lost 50 pounds in the process.

"The basic premise of intuitive eating is, rather than manipulate what we eat in terms of prescribed diets -- how many calories a food has, how many grams of fat, specific food combinations or anything like that -- we should take internal cues, try to recognize what our body wants and then regulate how much we eat based on hunger and satiety," he said in a university statement.

In a pilot study, Hawks and colleagues studied the relationship between intuitive eating and several health indicators among a group of female college students. They identified 15 women who were intuitive eaters and 17 women who were not intuitive eaters and ran a battery of tests to see how healthy they were.

Overall, women who scored high on the Intuitive Eating Scale were healthier than were those who scored low on the scale. High intuitive eaters had a significantly lower body mass index than did low intuitive eaters and had lower levels of harmful triglycerides and higher levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and, therefore, a better cardiovascular risk profile.

Hawks plans to do a large-scale study of intuitive eating across different cultures. For example, Asian populations are primarily intuitive eaters -- they eat when hungry and stop when full. Compared with Americans, Asians have a "much healthier relationship with food, far fewer eating disorders, and interestingly, far less obesity," Hawks notes.

Diets and dieting often fail to result in long-term weight loss, largely because food restriction works against human biology, is not sustainable, and may lead to negative outcomes such as weight recycling, altered body composition, increased fat storage, decreased metabolism, and eating disorders, Hawks and colleagues explain in the American Journal of Health Education.

Proponents of intuitive eating for weight management believe that all individuals possess a natural mechanism that if allowed to function will ensure good nutrition at a healthy weight. Therefore, it is possible to maintain a healthy body weight while maintaining an unrestrained relationship with food.

"As individuals get in touch with this 'inner guide' or access their 'inner wisdom' they will be more in tune with their body's physical needs and will eat in a way that supports healthy weight maintenance and positive nutrition," Hawks and colleagues write.

To get on the road to intuitive eating, a person needs to adopt two attitudes, according to the researchers. The first attitude is body acceptance. "It's an extremely difficult attitude adjustment for many people to make, but they have to come to a conscious decision that personal worth is not a function of body size," Hawks said. The second attitude, that dieting is harmful, relates to the first -- namely that dieting does not lead to the results that people think it will lead to.

To become an intuitive eater, a person also needs to adopt two key behaviors. They must learn how not to eat for emotional, environmental or social reasons and they must listen to their body and eat only when hungry and stop when full. They must also learn how to interpret body signals, cravings, and hunger and respond in a healthy way.

SOURCE: American Journal of Health Education, November 18, 2005.

11-27-2005, 08:32 PM
Wish I were intuative. :) I've proven that I'm not just by what I tend to eat and when!

11-28-2005, 09:08 AM
To become an intuitive eater, a person also needs to adopt two key behaviors. They must learn how not to eat for emotional, environmental or social reasons and they must listen to their body and eat only when hungry and stop when full. They must also learn how to interpret body signals, cravings, and hunger and respond in a healthy way.

SOURCE: American Journal of Health Education, November 18, 2005.

Blimey if it were only that easy! Good article and yes its probably true but how many fat people are going to be able to do this without lots of counselling/therapy/retraining? Seems like its a good explanation of why skinny people stay skinny but not necessarily an answer to how to get fat people skinnier. It takes a long time to challenge and alter the habits learnt over a lifetime. Although the bit about having a healthy self image I'd certainly agree with. I'm finding my diet much easier because I'm doing it from a place of love not self hate. JMHO. x

11-28-2005, 10:33 AM
I gained the last 40 pounds as an "intuitive eater" :D Seriously, I've read the books, articles, had my advisor suggest that I try it...my intuition said that I could reasonably eat meals at 10pm and that 3 tablespoons of margarine on big bowls of brown rice was a good idea!

11-28-2005, 03:14 PM
I'm actually finding myself eating more and more intuitively. I still have a lot of control in what I eat, in that my weekday food is 75% identical every day, with only my evening meal varying (and sometimes even that doesn't change much), but when I let myself off the leash I'm getting far better at making decent decisions. Splurging a little sometimes, but compensating for it at other times, and generally trying to give my body what it wants rather than what the inner fat girl says she wants.

11-28-2005, 09:01 PM
I would have to agree with what coley144 said. It sounds wonderful but how in the world would you ever get yourself retrained to do that. I just don't see it happening.

11-28-2005, 09:46 PM
I would say that I have become an INTUITIVE eater.

The problem is that eating in such a way will never be INSTINCTIVE for me. I don't doubt that any of us can re-learn proper eating by paying attention to our bodies' signals but a decision making process is still going to take place at some point. That's where we get into trouble. I don't believe it is a matter of LEARNING not to eat as a result of emotion, environment, or social situations-it is a matter of CHOOSING not to.

11-29-2005, 09:24 AM
Neat article and a good thread to think about. I agree with Jawsmom and Howie. For me, my "intuitive" eating is what got me hear in the first place. ;) I really believe that you learn how to eat "intuitively" at a very young age, and since I grew up in house where there was no such thing as portion control or what was the right kind of food to eat, I will always have to make the concious choice and not rely on my instincts, so to speak.

11-29-2005, 01:21 PM
I can see intuitive eating as a way to maintain weight, but now that I've gone against my intuition and am 90 lbs over what I should be, I feel like I need to keep the calories at a low enough point to lose weight, and that, if I'm understanding it correctly, goes against intuitive eating, since I'm not always eating when I'm hungry. I'm eating according to how many calories I think I should have to lose weight.

I understand I should have a postive body image and separate my body image from my self worth (and how easy is that to do, anyway). At the same time, I don't think I should be at this weight for my health, mental and physical. That is, vanity isn't the main motivating factor here. I can accept my body but I know it needs changing.

So, I guess my concern is, how do I adopt intuitive eating and still lose weight?

11-29-2005, 01:26 PM
Neat article and a good thread to think about. I agree with Jawsmom and Howie. For me, my "intuitive" eating is what got me hear in the first place. ;)

Well it looks like most of us are in agreement then, because I said the same thing too! I GAINED the last 40 pounds as an "intuitive eater" :(

11-29-2005, 02:18 PM
I rather disagree with many of the posters here. I don't think I gained my weight by being an intuitive eater. I think I gained my weight by being an absent-minded eater. I ate because I was bored, or hungry, or grouchy, and I filled my mouth with whatever came to hand. Often I ate without thinking about what, or how much. I'd realize only an hour later that the whole bag of chips was gone, or the block of cheese had "evaporated."

That's not intuitive. That's automatic-pilot. And it's a BIG part of what heavy people have to relearn. As someone once said, who refused to count the calories of veggies, even if they had some butter on them, "I didn't get obese by eating too many veggies."

I think of intuitive eating as eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full. It means being aware of my choices, not just eating the first thing that comes to hand. I pay much more attention now to my mood when I eat. Do I want something hot and creamy? I make soup. Do I want something sweet? I make a protein shake. Do I want something crunchy? I make popcorn, or snack on crudites. It's reacting to fulfill the REAL reason for the urge to snack -- and if I'm hovering around the refrigerator and realize I'm not hungry, then I know I need to focus on why I'm there. Boredom is the biggest culprit for me. I want to fill that emptiness with something, and food is my habit to do so. But it's not intuitive to fill that emptiness with food. It's a learned response, that I can unlearn.

Intuitive eating as they usually define it is making food choices based upon your body's real hungers and needs rather than because of emotion or boredom or mere habit. This can be confusing because "intuition" means making a decision or doing an action without reasoning, instinctively. That's almost impossible because we've been conditioned so long in our habits. But KNOWING that we have that conditioning, and learning to RECOGNIZE it, are the first steps to being able to really, mindfully, make intuitive food choices -- choices that fulfill the body's real hungers, not the mind's imagined ones.

11-29-2005, 02:32 PM
I totally agree with you, Synger. Well said!

11-29-2005, 02:40 PM
I guess I intuitive eat to a point but the calories are still there to reinforce that I don't get to much. There are times that I have had all my calories and I am still hungry. If I eat every time that happened I would be above my calories and not lose. I just don't see this working for me. So I do intuitive eat by choosing the things that sound good and are what my body wants and needs. I also eat when I'm hungry and not just because I have calories left. However I feel I will always need to use the calories to keep me in check.

11-30-2005, 09:46 AM
I agree with you, HOwie. I'm a calorie counter myself, and I know I need that limitation to keep me "in check". Otherwise when I wanted something sweet, I'd choose icecream rather than a smoothie. I guess my point is that when I actually pay attention to my body's signals of hunger and satiety, I have more control over what I eat.

For instance, I was feeling hungry last night near bedtime. I didn't want a lotof junk, but I did want something crunchy. And I was actually hungry. So I ate a handful of Ritz Bits cheese crackers. The handful satisfied me, and was only about 100 calories so it was within my limit for the day. It gave me something to crunch, and it gave my stomach something to digest. And I enjoyed the crunchy, creamy texture and the taste of the crackers more because I was actually paying attention to it, knowing I'd only get a handful.

A year ago I would have eaten the whole box without thinking about it, and wouldn't even really have tasted it.

That's what I mean about how I interpret intuitive eating and try to make it work for me.

11-30-2005, 10:15 AM
boy I know what you mean about enjoying the smaller portions more. I think I didn't taste a lot of my food when I was pouring it down my gullet...

12-01-2005, 06:21 AM
Is it then more about becoming a conscious eater? I can certainly remember (and sometimes still do it now) eating without really registering it at all. The advantage of a diet is that you are a lot more conscious of what you are eating and when. It makes food more enjoyable because you are actually taking the time to taste it.

Maybe that's the lesson I need to learn..to be fully conscious when I am eating..

Not that I'm saying I've been eating unconcious! I was awake! But before I started this diet I think sometimes I would just go into a sort of food haze. Its like a drug innit?

Do you get what I mean? Maybe if I manage to ALWAYS eat consciously then I will conquer the eating problems that got me here in the first place.

12-01-2005, 12:36 PM
Most definitely a drug. I can remember going from dealer to dealer 3 or 4 stops in a row. Getting all kinds of garbage. Stuffing myself until I felt sick. It makes me sick to think of how I was and what I did.

12-01-2005, 01:55 PM
Is it then more about becoming a conscious eater? I can certainly remember (and sometimes still do it now) eating without really registering it at all.

For me, I think that happened a lot, and I think I didn't want to take responsibility for what I was eating and my behavior (not exercising included).
You know? I'm going to eat what I want when I want it, no matter how much, and not move because that's what I want to do and not think of any consequences.

12-10-2005, 07:51 PM
Great thread and it's so nice to see an intelligent discussion without people totally slamming a way of eating (as an ex-low carber, I got a lot of that :D)

I've been moving towards intuitive eating for a few weeks now. But I think it's a mindset - you have to be ready for it. I was on a low-carb diet for a few years and lost 30 pounds in all but I found myself going into the same diet/binge cycle in maintenance so I figured out it's not what I'm eating but my whole approach to food. So now I'm concentrating on having a better relationship with food. To me, that's what it's about - not losing weight. In fact, I've gained some weight but I haven't been eating out of control. Last night I had a small bowl of ice cream and a few cookies in the evening which was a major victory for me - these foods were only binge day foods and I would sit with the ice cream carton and box of cookies in front of me - not even put them in bowls! This time I could eat regular potions and be satified.

I'm still trying to negotiate full vs. stuffed feeling (not wanna throw up stuffed but just beyond being full) and that's the hardest thing. But I'm not eating tons of the foods I love, even though they're around me now.

At this point in my life, I'm find with being a size 10 or 12 instead of a size 6. If it will get me off of the diet/binge cycle and get me eating regular portions of food because I don't feel deprived, it's worth it.