Listening to My Body: A Skill I Need

I mentioned recently that I had found myself in a rough emotional patch, during which I had slipped some on my eating; in trying to come out of that funk, I saw today in the Weight Watchers e-tools that I hadn’t logged the food I was eating all last week! The scale showed that I hadn’t gained any weight, though.

What happened? I like to think that I’m slowly learning to eat appropriately without the training wheels of the Weight Watchers program. In the travels I’ve been doing on the Web, checking out the various sites of fellow NaBloPoMo participants, I’ve seen people talking about intuitive eating, and I think it’s something I’ll eventually take up as a way of life… but maybe not until after I’ve lost the rest of the weight I want to lose.

What is intuitive eating? It’s an approach to food that hinges on you being the expert of your body and its needs. Basically, you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. The approach was developed by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA. I like the idea of intuitive eating because it strives to take emotions out of eating, making it solely a pursuit to fuel your body, rather than to soothe your mind, as often is the case. (More information on intuitive eating can be found here.)

There are people who lose weight through intuitive eating. Why am I not motivated to try my hand at weight loss through intuitive eating at this time? I think my food intuition muscle needs to be stronger. Put another way, I don’t completely trust myself with food right now.

I have moments when, even if I’m not logging my meals, I can cut an exact 1-oz slice of cheese for myself (corroborated by the food scale), or I know when to eat a meal rather than a snack (and adjust my eating accordingly). Or, I can successfully eat a lighter dinner when I’ve had a heavy lunch. But for the time being, I need to continue weighing my food, using my measuring cups and spoons to get more familiar with what true portions look like, and to keep myself honest. Same goes for logging my eating–it keeps me accountable and forces me to face reality. And, it couldn’t hurt for me to continue working through my emotional issues, so there will be less of an internal pull to eat inappropriately.

I feel confident that at some point I’ll be able to understand my body’s needs and act on them, rather than trying to fulfill the needs of my heart or my pride with food. I got a glimmer of hope last night when, after eating some chocolate ice cream, I was able to stop without going back for seconds. Though I could taste the cocoa-inflected ice cream in my mind and I could envision myself eating it, I stopped and thought about it, realized I was full, and called it quits for dessert. Consistently experiencing moments like these, day in and day out, translates into successful intuitive eating. As I continue to lose weight, learn respect for food, and confront my entrenched negative emotions, I anticipate that it will become easier to eat in an emotionally neutral manner.

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