True confession: I’m really not much of an intuitive eater. And I’m (mostly) okay with that.
For a while, I beat myself up about it. I would curse myself for feeling “fuller” than I was “supposed to.” I would hyper-analyze when to take the last bite, and I would stare sadly at my uneaten portion when I was “full,” wanting more.
After a while, I realized that the way I felt after I ate–stuffed and bloated after only a few bites–was not normal. It was not my body’s “true” response to fullness–it was my IBS. I felt like I’d way over-eaten, but I knew, intellectually, that that explanation wasn’t rational. I was eating half, maybe even a third, as much as I had been on my meal plan, much less than people around me like my family and co-workers. And I was still having obsessive thoughts about food.
I don’t think it’s usually productive to compare what you eat with what other people eat, but when you have a history of anorexia and you recognize that you’re consistently eating much less than everyone else, it’s a flag. If you’re having obsessive thoughts about food, that’s a big fat flag.
So May of last year, I started the low-FODMAP diet and started what I call “semi-intuitive” eating, not counting calories or adhering to any rules, but eating according to what I knew was about average for me.
I adopted a new mantra, which actually, ironically, I found in the pages of the Intuitive Eating book by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch:
I still never force myself to eat if I truly don’t want to. For instance, I’m quite bloated from my IBS right now, and it’s likely I’ll choose not to eat a treat before bed like I so often do. And, if I’m not that hungry, I’m totally okay with, for example, doing a healthy snack-sized portion in place of lunch.
But I also remind myself that it’s okay to eat a regular sized lunch, even if I’m not that hungry. I almost always finish my plate, rather than stopping at some arbitrary point of deciding that I’m “full enough.” (Except if it’s a really big plate of food, like at restaurants.) And if I say ‘no’ to dessert, it’s because I truly don’t feel like eating the thing, not because I’m “not actually hungry.”
Still today, I remind myself of my unconditional permission mantra and follow my semi-intuitive eating plan, especially as I continue to deal with IBS symptoms. Here’s my not very intuitive Tuesday eats for today’s What I Ate Wednesday!Woke up this morning not that hungry. My usual breakfast of cereal and a banana seemed too heavy, so I went with a couple of clementines–a less filling option. I still like to get fruit in my breakfast somehow.At about 10:30, I started feeling kind of weird. Couldn’t tell if it was hunger or just more bloating–(intuitive eating is really difficult with IBS)–but I decided to go ahead and eat one of the snacks I had packed. Good choice: after finishing the grapes, I realized I was still hungry and grabbed a slice of cheese to round off my snack (cheese not pictured).I thought I wouldn’t be hungry for lunch for a while, but by noon, I could tell it was time to eat. I ate what I had–the leftovers from my delicious red pepper chickpea stew.That left me quite uncomfortable and bloated (probably all of the fiber), until 3:00 pm, when bang! I was quite hungry again. Grabbed a banana and a few peanuts from my office before heading to class.That class is three hours long, meaning that I usually don’t get home until around 7:30 or even 8:00. By that point, I’ve almost always lost my appetite. But I don’t figure it’s wise to skip supper, and frankly, I don’t want to skip supper (unconditional permission!), plus I had some shrimp in the fridge that was still good but wouldn’t be for long. Made a quick shrimp stir fry with broccoli, red pepper, sesame seed, sesame oil and soy sauce, which I ate over jasmine rice.Now I’m quite uncomfortable, but also sort of hungry. IBS can be so confusing. In fact, I’m considering grabbing a few bites of chocolate before bed. : P
How easy is it for you to eat intuitively?
Do you usually finish your plate?