I have lived an existence throughout my life of numbers. Number of calories, number of steps walked per day, number of binges in a week, number of laxatives taken, numbers numbers numbers.
Whilst battling my eating disorder, the easiest way for me to control what I was putting into my body, was by giving it a number value.
Forget nutrition, how many fruits/veg I was having or anything that actually mattered – I was all about the maths, and even now after so many years in recovery, I still find it incredibly hard to separate myself from this habit and slight sense of control.
Although I would say that I was almost 95% recovered from my bulimic tendencies, I still find myself clinging to the ‘calories’ aspect of eating and I’ve used calorie tracking apps since even before I had a phone in my hand. (Honestly, I have notebooks full of what I’ve eaten that day!)
So, now that I’m more settled, secure and happier than ever in most aspects of my life, this is something that I want to get a handle on. I’m trying more than ever to begin to be an ‘intuitive eater’ – which essentially means, eating when I’m hungry, eating things that nourish my body and feel full on my own terms.
So here’s the kind of steps that I’m currently taking to be intuative about food:
1. I’m not giving up tracking what I’m eating
I may still be using a notebook to write down the foods that I’m eating in the day, BUT the key difference for me is that I’m not putting any numbers or calories next to eat
2. I’m using a hunger scale to dictate when I eat
I’ve always had a weird relationship with the ‘3 meals a day’ structure that we have. I often don’t feel hungry for a few hours when I wake up, I like to have a bigger dinner and I always crave something sweet in the afternoon. I’m beginning to learn about my own patterns of eating and what suits me, but instead of eating ‘because I feel like it’s the right time to’ – I’m trying to process how hungry I am, then eat.
3. Stop when you’re full
I’m so guilty of eating to finish up things or clearing my plate if I’m at my family home, because I think it’s ”rude” to stop when I’m full. I’m chucking that thought out the window and trying to make sure that if I’m full, I’m stopping. Listening to my body has become so important.
4. I’m ignoring diet culture
I have continually found it hard to break the assumption that thin = good. When I had the flu earlier this month I lost about 5 pounds and I won’t lie, I was HAPPY. But that thought in itself is RIDICULOUS. Why was I happy that I’d essentially become so starved and dehydrated that I’d lost all this weight. This thoughts are things that I’ve grown up with and they are hard to break, but I’m going to give some body positive books a read and remember exactly why I’m doing this.
5. Exercise and peace with my body
For me, exercise has also been a part of what I would do to lose weight. I’m trying to rediscover the exercises that I actually enjoy doing for the strength of my body and to look after myself and my mental health. I’m going climbing this afternoon, which I think is a good start there! Plus, always trying to get in the fresh air for a walk.
6. My body is a temple
Ah cringe but true! This body is the only one I’ve got! It’s the body that will hopefully one day carry a baby, it’s the body that gets me from place to place and it’s the one that I’m stuck with – I might as well start trying to give it what it needs, rather than worrying all the time about what number of calories I’m giving it!
Are you trying intuitive eating? Have you had any success? Let me know!