This is day 4 of the Your Turn Challenge. Today's topic is "Teach us something you do well."
We were born intuitive eaters. We cried when we were hungry, and our caregivers fed us. We stopped eating when we were satisfied. Even toddlers do this – watch them, it’s fascinating.
And then somewhere along the way things get blurred. We learn to ignore hunger and eat past fullness. Foods get labeled “good” and “bad” – which in turn implies morality of the person eating said foods. (News flash – you are not a bad person if you eat cake.)
Ultimately this can lead to a life of torment with food. Yo-yo dieting, guilt/shame after eating, cutting out food groups, emotional eating, poor body image, even eating disorders.
For those ready to reclaim their status as an intuitive eater, it is possible. Just like you learned dysfunctional eating, you can learn to eat intuitively again.
It starts with reconnecting with your body and allowing yourself to eat when you are hungry, and to truly eat what you are hungry for. This can be scary at first, as you probably learned somewhere along the way not to trust your body. At first you’ll find yourself mostly wanting foods that you had labeled as “bad.” Your body needs to trust that it can truly have what it wants when it’s hungry.
This not me telling you to overeat. The idea is to eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are pleasantly full or satisfied. By doing this your body will self-regulate it’s intake, and after a period of desensitization to your formerly forbidden foods you’ll truly crave the entire spectrum of food.
For most people figuring out when you’re physically hungry (vs behaviorally or emotionally hungry) is a little easier than figuring out fullness/satiety. That’s ok. It’s like playing darts, with practice you’ll become more accurate, but initially you’ll be off-center. Be gentle with yourself.
The process of reconnecting with your body’s ability to intuitively eat will take time. The non-intuitive eating habits didn’t develop overnight, so don’t expect this to either. With lots of practice it will get easier.
Finding peace with food may not be easy, but trust me it’s worth it.