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Anyone manage to quit dieting with positive results?

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Old 04-17-2013, 09:39 AM   #151
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Question for people participating in this thread: Some of you recommend eating when hungry and stopping when full, but what is full? I enjoy the feeling of being nice and full (just short of uncomfortable). If I stop eating when I've JUST reached the "not hungry" stage, it never feels like enough. Any way to deal with this?

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Freelance - this is without a doubt the most difficult part of IE for me. And it is basically impossible to explain. I know that's not what you wanted to hear.

You said "I enjoy the feeling of being nice and full (just short of uncomfortable)." That describes me as well. And I generally eat to that point, even with IE. That's because if I do then I can go as long as 8 hours without eating again. I generally do this once a day, always after noon - usually around mid-afternoon. If I eat anything else in the evening, it's generally very light. If I get a real strong gnawing in my stomach in the morning, I will eat yogurt with fruit and/or bran, just enough to take the edge off. Because I really enjoy eating a big, hearty meal in the middle of the day, which is my natural inclination.

In "The Overfed Head" by Rob Stevens, he speaks a lot about eating to the point of not being hungry. He even has a chart in there which I find impossible to even understand, let alone follow. Which is why I think this part of IE is so individual and needs to be explored by each individual person. But it can also be over-analyzed, I believe.

(If anyone wants to read this book, just google "The Overfed Head pdf" and the pdf version of the book will come up. You can read it online.)

He also points out something interesting - that naturally thin people actually like being hungry and do not like feeling really full.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:57 AM   #152
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I've come to the conclusion that hunger is something that I will have to face. I've been "facing the hunger" for a while now. I have good days and I have bad days. But I know that being hungry is something I will have to get used to until my appetite/stomach capacity shrinks. I really think that hunger is something we dieters do our best to avoid and try to find tricks to fix it but I think we're missing the point. We're intolerant of hunger while I believe that skinnier people are ok with it. Ask any model and she'll tell you she's been hungry for years.
I'd been working on my last post for so long (I had to stop for a phone call and to iron some clothes) I hadn't seen this when I posted. You'll see I said the same thing in my post, although it wasn't original with me.

I've written this in previous posts, but when dieting I always had a real fear of hunger. I'd eat the obligatory three meals a day, never filling up enough and either worrying about getting hungry or being frustrated because I was hungry. This constant conflict is one of several reasons I finally ditched dieting. I could no longer stand it. Now that I know that I can eat what I want and eat to the point I feel will satisfy me, I no longer fear hunger. In my previous post I stated that I enjoy eating big meals during the middle of the day, and so I either wait until then to eat, tolerating moderate hunger, or if the hunger is overpowering (the kind that keeps me from concentrating on anything else) I will eat just a little something to make that go away.

I'd also like to say here that one thing I'm learning is so very, very important is the idea of mindful eating. It's still a bit foreign to me (I've always been a "sit in front of the tv" eater) but really taking the time to concentrate and savor my food has been really helpful in reducing my intake. I treat every single item of food I eat as a meal, even if it is a small snack like the yogurt I mentioned.

I'm loving all the feedback in this thread. Thanks again to everyone who is participating. Great discussion.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:37 AM   #153
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I think where I went wrong initially with IE is that when I started I was still very weight loss focused. So here I had found this method that would allow me to eat whatever I wanted and possibly slim down to my original pre-diet size and not have to count anything or feel guilt for eating ice cream and pizza, and I ran with it. And it is a good concept; if you have the right intentions going in.

I didn't.

I used it as a diet while heavily in denial. I took the mantra, "stop eating when no longer hungry" to the extreme. I would eat my food very slowly, and watch the clock to make sure 20 minutes had passed. Well, after 5-7 bites, (sometimes less), my hunger felt like it was gone, and I would end up chronically undereating like this for the next 6 months or so. You couldn't tell me I was undereating though. Many people around me would question why I had stopped eating so soon. I don't know if it was because my brain was starved and my body hungry, but I was very defensive to all of this. I also would get hungry and almost get high off of the feeling and let it persist for far longer than it needed to. If at least 5 hours hadn't passed between meals, hungry or not, I refused to eat. I always had to be hungry enough or I looked at it as "screwing up."

The thing is, my stomach shrunk from doing this and I suspect that I suffered from gastroparesis because of it as well, so if I did try to eat more normal sized meals, I felt dull pain. Obviously, to avoid the pain I would go back to undereating. Eventually ALL eating hurt and I ended up hating food, my body, and my life. This was around the time too that my bingeing picked up exponentially and my thoughts became suicidal.

Eventually, after being sick and tired of the obsession, bingeing, (and chronic constipation!), I forced myself to eat more and eat through the pain. I actually had read that doing this, while painful at first, would allow my digestive tract to get re-used to having more food and speed up digestion so I wouldn't be in pain anymore. It's worked, and now I can actually eat real meals (up to 1,000 calories in a sitting, which I regularly did as a normal eater when my hunger called for it) and not walk away in pain. The shift in my thoughts is amazing. I used to think 1,000 calories in a go would be a binge for me. And I guess to my deprived brain it was. Now it's normal for me to eat est ~500-1,000 calories per/meal. Anything less and I feel cheated and my thoughts would dwell on food until I ate more.

I wouldn't label how I eat with any special name though. I eat when hungry, because I don't care for food otherwise, it's like something shuts off when not hungry and doesn't turn on again until my body needs some energy, and I stop when full (real satiation), and then my brain doesn't make me think about food again until it needs something...like the old days.

I'm not a perfect eater either...I'll eat hard candy when not hungry, drink cherry coke if I'm bored in front of the TV, eat M&Ms at the movies just because, or slurp a slurpee if I'm just plain thirsty. When you don't care about calories any longer you can enjoy those things without worrying about what it's going to cost you. It's nice.

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Old 04-17-2013, 10:51 AM   #154
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I wanted to add after reading my last post that I think true satiation is a two-way street.

The stomach has to be satisfied or you will suffer from what I did: delayed gatstic emptying and atrophy of the digestive tract from unintentional undereating. Not fun! This doesn't mean eat until stuffed, can't button my pants or breath. Just comfortably full, meaning you can walk away from the table and still continue with day to day life without feeling bloated and nasty, but you know also that you have eaten enough and won't be thinking about food for a few good hours.

I also think the brain needs to be satisfied. After all, it's the brain/hypothalamus that sends out the hunger signal, and it knows exactly how much energy it needs to keep things in balance. I always felt full (read: not hungry), but my brain was overly preoccupied with food. I wondered why, now it makes sense. I just plain was not eating enough.

No shock at all, in hindsight, that my body kept urging me to binge. It wasn't against me, it didn't want me to become overweight or obese, it was just trying to make up for the deficit, months and months, so I could live.

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Old 04-17-2013, 02:17 PM   #155
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This has to be the BEST discussion on any forum that I have ever read! I am not all the way through the posts but had to say BRAVO!

The whole "dieting ourselves fat" speaks loudly to me. Compulsive dieting has led me to be obsessed with food. I am eager to learn about IE and being finally being free from my food obsession. I have no idea how to let go of the diet mentality and feeling of failure.

Phenomenal thread!!!
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:22 PM   #156
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It's kind of sad how even "eating without a diet or plan" or "eating bigger meals closer together" have been given names and guidelines - Intuitive Eating, Intermittent Fasting...
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:54 PM   #157
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He also points out something interesting - that naturally thin people actually like being hungry and do not like feeling really full.
That's been my observation as well.

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Old 04-17-2013, 04:48 PM   #158
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What a brilliant discussion, I've just read all 10 pages, thanks to SouthernMaven for bringing it to my attention by posting it in another thread.

20ish years of binge eating under my belt, I've been doing intuitive eating for nearly 5 months, and it really agrees with me. I agree it has it's challenges. I can elaborate later, but when I started, I was at "screw it" point, thinking I could never lose weight so it was worth a shot. I ate nothing but old forbidden foods for about a week: donuts (I'm a lover of the donuts!), chocolate, pizza twice a day etc. I must have gained weight, but I wasn't counting. I did feel AWFUL though, heartburn, constantly hungry, UTIs (I've had those once or twice a month as far back as I can remember and now they only come back when I overload on sugar), fatigue, worsened depression, the list goes on... I had to regulate my sugar intake (just by cutting it out of drinks) to be able to even tell when I was really hungry. Clearly there was something metabolically wrong, maybe pre-diabetes, now I guess I'll never know.

After tweaking that, knowing when I was hungry got easier. It became easier to tell what I wanted. Apparently I love oily fish I'm still learning though, I don't have this down by a long shot. I thought I had, but... not so much.

Positives so far are no binges for 5 months, I can tell when I'm hungry, I like a lot healthier foods than I expected, I've lost 20lbs, and I think I could happily make this a part of my life permanently.

Stuff I'm still working on is knowing when I'm full (eating more slowly and noticing when my food doesn't taste as good as it initially did are things I'm experimenting with right now), reinforcing the fact that I don't have to clear my plate (we didn't have many leftovers growing up, my dad would hoover up anything that wasn't nailed down so I became very protective of my food) and learning to stay mindful under stress when so many other things are competing for my attention. That, and general stress reduction.

So, there's my pitch... I'll be following this with interest and look forward to joining in the discussion. This subject can be approached from so many angles as everyone posting has shown. I'm happy to say that I expect I can learn a lot from this, so thank you all for contributing
I like what you said and i want to try it, but my problem is that i really don't experience physical hunger and fullness like most people (maybe as a result of stretching my stomach out over so many years of binging). I don't feel physically hungry until i'm waaaay past the point when i should have eaten. I DO feel mental hunger though (just a vague mental urge to eat). Same thing with fullness--i really don't get uncomfortably full EVER, EVEN when i binge, unless i ate something particularly greasy or salty. Basically, when i binge, i know to stay away from greasy, salty food, because i know it will make me feel bad. So i binge on carbs, which NEVER fills me up.

So for me, "intuitive eating" basically means eating when i MENTALLY want it, and stopping when i'm MENTALLY satisfied. I don't think that's what "intuitive eating" is supposed to be, but for me, the mental urges are far more powerful than the physical ones. And even when i know for a fact that i'm binging because my body physically needs it (such as after a period of strict dieting), i don't feel PHYSICAL hunger. It's more this driving force in my brain that says "eat eat eat."

However, i have to say that i think there's a difference between what i'm describing, versus "emotional eating." I'm pretty sure i don't eat emotionally. I get random mental urges to eat, even though i don't feel any physical hunger--but "mental" does not equate with "emotional" for me. I feel hunger in my brain, and i eat...but i don't really ever eat because i'm sad, angry, etc.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:08 PM   #159
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IA with you krampus - the labeling has gone too far! It's eating. We get hungry, we put food in our mouths, and we move on. At least that's how it should be. Sadly, eating has been villianized much like sex has in the Western world. It's something necessary to survival, but a nasty act that must be carried out with a certain level of shame. Eating purely for pleasure? How dare you! You might as well have murdered your next door neighbor for all the guilt you'll end up feeling. How dare your natural weight end up being over society's BMI standards despite the fact that your genetics may dictate that that's a healthy range for your body.

surfergirl, if you've been dieting for any length of time, bingeing, and then immediately go back to restricting, it's possible that your stomach hunger signals are just suppressed/out of whack for the time being. The mental hunger of "eat, eat, eat" IS real hunger, and it's often the one I would get before a binge ensued even though my stomach felt neutral. I just could not stop thinking about food even though my stomach wasn't signaling a need. After trying out more food at meals, the normal hunger signals from the stomach eventually kicked back in.

They tend to shut down when dieting/restricting because your body's entire metabolic rate slows; it figures there's no food around so it better slowly conserve any bit of food you have taken in. I mean, would you keep knocking on the door if you knew no one was home?

The IE book touches a bit about re-establishing hunger signals for the chronic dieter. I liked that they did that. Things like eating at specific intervals (8am, 1pm, 7pm) to let your body get used to the idea that food will now regularly be coming in. Eventually, the body will start expecting food at these times, and get hungry on its own.

I hope that helps

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Old 04-17-2013, 05:23 PM   #160
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surfergirl, if you've been dieting for any length of time, bingeing, and then immediately go back to restricting, it's possible that your stomach hunger signals are just suppressed/out of whack for the time being. The mental hunger of "eat, eat, eat" IS real hunger, and it's often the one I would get before a binge ensued even though my stomach felt neutral. I just could not stop thinking about food even though my stomach wasn't signaling a need. After trying out more food at meals, the normal hunger signals from the stomach eventually kicked back in.

They tend to shut down when dieting/restricting because your body's entire metabolic rate slows; it figures there's no food around so it better slowly conserve any bit of food you have taken in. I mean, would you keep knocking on the door if you knew no one was home?

The IE book touches a bit about re-establishing hunger signals for the chronic dieter. I liked that they did that. Things like eating at specific intervals (8am, 1pm, 7pm) to let your body get used to the idea that food will now regularly be coming in. Eventually, the body will start expecting food at these times, and get hungry on its own.

I hope that helps
Thanks! I think/hope you're right. I've spent the past few days literally just eating whatever i want whenever i want, but today, at the risk of going back to a "diet" mentality, i decided to start doing a regular meal schedule again. No limit on what can be eaten at those meals, but just to have a schedule, i figured would be a good thing. I have not read the IE book, but i am surprised it recommends eating at specific intervals; based on the IE thread i have read here, i had the impression that people were against eating at set intervals.

And...this is REALLY verging on "diet" territory...but i'm also writing down my calorie estimate for each day once again. More as an observational thing more than anything (in the same manner that i weigh myself every morning...which i do, and it doesn't usually affect me other than as a simple observation). I hope that by just writing it down but not limiting it, i'm not doing anything "restrictive" so as to cause myself to binge again!
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:33 PM   #161
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I think the book recommends the scheduled intervals for those who no longer feel stomach hunger, which then leads them to unintentional undereating. It also suggests that when you are first coming off of a diet and re-learning hunger to try and go no more than 5 or so hours between meals even if you don't feel hunger. The 5 hours comes from the estimated time it takes the liver to use up it's glycogen stores.

If you already have consistent hunger signals, then great, but I would guess that most people reading the book are like you and that they have lost them, or they are coming off of eating disorders like anorexia, in which they are just plain muted.

My own problem with IE is that I tried to eat the least amount possible while still "listening to my body." I'll always be a bit ashamed of what I've done to myself in that regard.

I think calorie counting for the sake of seeing where you end up each day as an observation can be quite useful in that respect. If I were to count and only ended up each day at 1500 calories, well then I would up my intake to let my body know that more is coming and let it get used to that. I believe 1500 (probably less too) is what I was losing on during my ED days and what killed my metabolic rate. Again, I don't count so I'm not sure, but if I had to guess, I probably eat on average 2000-2500/day, and I had to "work" to get my metabolism used to tolerating that again.

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Old 04-17-2013, 05:43 PM   #162
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A question about the meal timing thing, and one thing I've wondered about. I'm a teacher and have a very inflexible daytime schedule. I often get hungry before lunchtime but have no time/space for a snack. One of the things about portioning out lunch in advance is that, no matter how hungry I am, I know I eat the "right" amount of food at lunch to satisfy without being overfull. If I went off huger signals alone I would overeat.

SouthernMaven, BingeFree and others who have made this switch, how do you adapt to inflexible eating times? Or to meal planning in general?
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:52 PM   #163
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Hi Jen!

I'm currently a nursing student/soon to be nurse, so inflexible times are my middle name!

The thing is, I don't plan meals or meal times. Hunger doesn't particularly bother me (it may make me antsy and/or annoyed, but I know what's up and that I'll be eating soon so I deal), so if I normally would eat at 2pm on an off day or weekend at my leisure, and then on another day I cannot do that for whatever reason, I just wait.

I'll tell you one thing: Back when I was restricting, I would be TERRIFIED to be caught hungry without food around. I would worry about things like eating before, "just in case" or ending up too hungry and then bingeing if I had to wait. There's one thing to be said for ditching diets and being well-fed, and that is that that fear is gone. If I have to wait a few hours I'll end hit up a vending machine and get some quick sustenance, or just wait. In the land of plenty, food is never too far and since I'm no longer chronically hungry my brain doesn't go into a freak out. That's how I was as a kid too, so I might not be the best person to answer such questions if one has never experienced a past normal relationship with food/hunger/fullness.

I also don't think one has to be rigid when it comes to listening to hunger/fullness. I used to think so when I started IE. Mostly because I was using it as a diet and wanted to do it perfectly to maximize weight loss. Now I tend to eat the same amount/portion sizes pretty much everyday. It's almost like the body gets used to it and adjusts accordingly, just as my stomach shrunk the more I underate. So if a predetermined amount at lunch works for you regardless of hunger and you're happy, I say stick with it.

SouthernMaven has excellent ideas though, so I'll let her take it away

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Old 04-17-2013, 06:09 PM   #164
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I think the book recommends the scheduled intervals for those who no longer feel stomach hunger, which then leads them to unintentional undereating. It also suggests that when you are first coming off of a diet and re-learning hunger to try and go no more than 5 or so hours between meals even if you don't feel hunger. The 5 hours comes from the estimated time it takes the liver to use up it's glycogen stores.

If you already have consistent hunger signals, then great, but I would guess that most people reading the book are like you and that they have lost them, or they are coming off of eating disorders like anorexia, in which they are just plain muted.

My own problem with IE is that I tried to eat the least amount possible while still "listening to my body." I'll always be a bit ashamed of what I've done to myself in that regard.

I think calorie counting for the sake of seeing where you end up each day as an observation can be quite useful in that respect. If I were to count and only ended up each day at 1500 calories, well then I would up my intake to let my body know that more is coming and let it get used to that. I believe 1500 (probably less too) is what I was losing on during my ED days and what killed my metabolic rate. Again, I don't count so I'm not sure, but if I had to guess, I probably eat on average 2000-2500/day, and I had to "work" to get my metabolism used to tolerating that again.
Thanks for your advice! I think what will be hard is to stop myself from thinking "uh oh, i ate over 3000 calories for the last few days, i'd better cut back" (and yes i will easily eat that much in a normal day). Instead, i'll try to use my calories as an observation--i.e. i exercise a lot in one day, and then the next day my calories are higher--then i can use this information in the future and instead of thinking "oh no, i'm binging," i can remember "i'm probably extra hungry today because i did a really long hike yesterday." Trying to be rational about it all.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:37 PM   #165
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I think the only time in my life where i ever lost weight and kept it (most of it) off for a long time (about 10 months), i was probably doing "intuitive eating." Really i was not doing anything at all...i was in between jobs, traveling the world. I effortlessly went from the low 160s to the low 140s in the first month or two of traveling. I did not have access to a scale and really i didn't know i was losing weight (i didn't know until i got home at the end of the trip). In fact, i specifically remember thinking at times, "oh no, i'm probably gaining weight" and having that panicked feeling. Yet, most of that time, i remained sane, ate in restaurants at mealtimes, didn't count calories (at least not to any degree of accuracy, although i probably tried to guess them), and lost weight. So i'm trying to evoke that time again. Which is to say...it's ok to worry about weight gain a LITTLE bit, which i did--but just to not let it rule my life.
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