Intuitive/mindful eating

So – I am finally posting on the intuitive/mindful eating.  This is probably going to be a rambling post, so be forewarned!

I have decided that I prefer the term mindful eating because I actually think I am pretty intuitive about a lot of things in life already, but I need to pay attention to some things more (being mindful).   This month is more about doing that than trying to lose weight (more on that later).  I actually think I have a fairly good relationship with food now, but sometimes I wonder why I snack out of boredom or overeat during holidays.  I feel my feelings.  I don’t have emotional scars or issues that I have buried with food.   I ate too much and too many of things that allowed the fat to pile up quite easily (note I am not saying I ate the wrong foods, reframing that).

I tend to be a somewhat regimented eater on a schedule because of my activities.  I try to eat every few hours so that I don’t get too hungry.  If I get too hungry, or what I call “falling off the cliff,” it is very hard to reign in the eating after that.  It is almost like I cannot get full.  I don’t really know if that is my body trying to regulate insulin or what, but I just do not like to get to that point.  I also have the habitual eating, like my afternoon latte, which occurs pretty much at the same time each afternoon.  I am not always hungry (usually I am), but I always have it or some type of snack.  Sometimes just as a forethought to avoid the cliff scenario mentioned above.  Is that mindful?  I don’t know.

Sometimes my body gives me hunger signals when I don’t want them.  Like in the mid morning and I feel really hungry, and I know it is hunger, but I think  “I just had a 500 calorie breakfast 2 hours ago, WTF??”  Shouldn’t that last longer when it is a good mix of carbs, protein, and fat?  So, that is something I need to explore.

I have been trying to listen to my body telling me what to eat as well.  And that means breakfast for dinner sometimes!  Like when I had oats for dinner after a big bike ride.  I really think my body wanted the carbs to replenish all that glycogen.

Then I wonder about how intuitive eating works when I know that I must eat, but I am not hungry, such as after some of those rides we did.  My appetite was suppressed, but I know that my body needed fuel.  How does one handle that in an intuitive/mindful way when I know that I need to eat?  Or is that being mindful in a different way? (Maybe I am over analyzing here).

And what about weight loss?  I know a lot of people think of intuitive eating as a way to lose weight, but I don’t really think that is the purpose for it.  I read that if you eat only when you are hungry, that your body will naturally become a “normal” weight.   If you eat when you are hungry, how does that work if your body has a set point of say… 250 pounds?  What if my body intuitively wants to be 250 pounds, but my brain does not want my body to be 250 pounds?  How do I reconcile or trust that?

So anyhoo – these are just some of the things rambling in my mind.  I have to admit that sometimes the notion of intuitive eating annoys the crap out of me, and maybe that is the real reason why I am looking into it.  Because I don’t know why it would annoy me.

I actually get along well with my body now.  In the past, it was always me versus my fat body.  Then I learned that my body is actually okay, it’s the fat that is not.  Now it is me and my body against the fat, which I have separated from being connected to who I am and what my body is.  We are like a team being healthy together and having to face some challenges (which we don’t always win).  It will be an interesting month.

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16 thoughts on “Intuitive/mindful eating

  1. Lisa

    I don’t think Intuitive eating is a way to lose weight. For a year I stopped counting calories and tried to eat intuitively. I gained 15 pounds in that year. I’m back to counting calories.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Happy Fourth- =-.

  2. Andra

    For me mindful eating and intuitive eating are two completely opposite concepts. I think there are people who are born “intuitive eaters.” They tend to be slim, energetic and eat small amounts when they feel hungry. They don’t have to give much thought to meals/mealtimes, their bodies know when they need food, it’s not a thought driven process.

    I think people who are overweight/overeaters for whatever reason override these bodily drives and things can get out of control. This is where mindful/thoughtful eating comes into play. Why am I eating? Am I really, physically hungry or do I just want comfort? Eating slowly and enjoying the sensations of eating so the body can become full naturally.

  3. Vee

    I’m struggling with the same thing. I want to trust my body but it’s gotten me to 299 pounds before my mind took back control. Even today, I **know** I should eat but nothing sounds good (not even fruit that I’d been craving) so I haven’t eaten yet today. Weird. Nope, I just don’t know either. Guess it’s different for each of us. Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com
    .-= Vee´s last blog ..Weight down to 253 =-.

  4. Pam

    I never thought about it from that perspective. I always felt that intuitive eating meant that you were allowing your body to work from its own queues as to its ideal weight. Of course, if there is something in your mindset that is still not where its should be, I could see where it could set your ideal threshold too high. I do like your idea of mindful eating though, and maybe others would benefit from that.
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Plugging Right Along =-.

  5. Pubsgal

    I, too, was distrustful of the idea of “intuitive eating.” Until I looked up the definition of “intuition,” the root of which is the Latin “intu?ri,” which meant “to look at, contemplate.” Isn’t it interesting that the definition of “intuition” given, then, is “quick and ready insight?”

    I have seen people who seem to be able to eat with good instinct in our food culture, but not many. I think that for me, retraining myself to have a “quick and ready insight” about what my body truly needs is coming from a more painstaking training/contemplation of what to eat, portion size, and timing. Including “refresher courses” if I find “portion creep” happening. 🙂 Diabetes has its own nuances with regard to “intuitive eating.” For example, my body will sometimes give me hunger signals when it doesn’t need food, either; I’ve experimented with my meter regarding this.
    .-= Pubsgal´s last blog ..Race Report- Tri the Coast Sprint Triathlon Relay =-.

  6. Shelley B

    The body having a “set point” worries me as well…and also, getting hunger signals when you don’t want them is hard to deal with…do I eat? Do I ignore? For how long? Who knew something so basic could be so hard???

    Very thought-provoking post!
    .-= Shelley B´s last blog ..Really- More Magazine =-.

  7. Leah

    You bring up some very interesting thoughts on this subject. I find that that eating intuitively always works WHEN/IF I truly obey my body’s hungers signals. Most times I’ve noticed if a person says they tried it and gained weight it’s because they didn’t really stop when satisfied or eat when truly hungry.

    Again, I’ve been thinking a lot on this as well lately. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject!
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Let Freedom Ring- – Day 6 -amp Happy 4th- =-.

  8. debby

    Oh my Lori. Not much I can add to this,except to quote my friend Jill and say ‘the brain swirl, it is strong today.’ We are pretty much twinsies on this whole issue.

    And can I admit on your blog (don’t want to write it on mine!) that I am not eating intuitively on this vacation….AND I am not counting calories. ruh roh.
    .-= debby´s last blog ..Goodbye- for Reals- =-.

  9. julie

    I’m not sure that I think of what I do as intuitive, though usually it’s mindful. I had to develop a much better relationship with food before I could lose weight, so maybe it’s intuitive. I have a general feeling on how I can eat and not gain weight. I don’t ignore signals if I ate 500 calories 4 hours ago, and am hungry again. If it seems unreasonable, I eat some fruit, or a glass of hot water (the a.c. is very aggressive where I work – I wear sweaters and freeze). If I’m not hungry and I should be, I make a judgement call. If I’m sitting around the house, or soon on my way to bed, I don’t eat. If I’m going out to the gym, or for a long hike, maybe I eat anyway. I’m interested in not being neurotic about food, but am not demanding perfection. I accept a tiny amount of anxiety, and am living to lose weight, not to find complete balance, absolute peace of mind, or achieve clean eating nirvana. Good enough is good enough, and from what I can tell, I’m less neurotic than most dieters, and I am comfortable with my eating. Usually.
    .-= julie´s last blog ..My head is spinning =-.

  10. Elaine

    You raise excellent questions that articulate to a “t” my reservations with the concept of intuitive eating. Mindful eating, on the other hand, is a really good goal for me, because it has so many benefits. Easy concept that’s hard to master- kind of like meditating regularly-another goal of mine.

  11. Barb

    Great questions and lots of good stuff to think about. I’m looking forward to reading more great posts from you this month….well, they are always great, but it sounds like lots of good mental stuff coming up. 🙂
    .-= Barb´s last blog ..A Good Day- =-.

  12. Jody - Fit at 52

    Lori, great post!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am talking about you today & this so stop on over…

    I use portion control, calorie knowledge as I like to look at it, mindful eating too… BUT to me, like you discussed, it is more about am I really hungry yet for that mini meal that I expect 2-3 hours after the last one OR maybe I am hungry early. Like you, my bod seems to be on a schedule BUT I have incorporated the listening to my bod even more in terms of am I ready for that mini meal what is my hunger.

    I am not really one for the IE thing where only eat when you are hungry cause I know at times, that could lead to more calories & food in my body than I prefer to have in there & up my body size & weight beyond what I prefer. Maybe my bod wants a different set point than I want for it so I like my portion control, calorie knowledge & mindful eating used in conjunction with each other.
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Weight Loss Tips =-.

  13. Mabelle@ Eat, Move and Live

    Hey Lori! Loving your posting on mindful eating. I think a lot of us can relate to what you’re saying. There was no rambling in your words!!! Those of us who strive for perfect harmony between our bodies/minds and food know exactly what you’re talking about 🙂

  14. Rebecca

    I have to agree that mindfulness is so powerful and goes beyond mindful eating when dealing with emotional eating. It is also amazing at helping you get through urges and cravings. I always teach it to my clients with great results. Mindfulness is also powerful for so many things in life. I have to add that it is really important to have a nutritionally balanced diet such as low GL for optimum nutrition. This can really help stop comfort eating, cravings, bingeing etc. Once you have the physiological problems caused by poor nutrition sorted out you can begin to work on the psychology. I work in this way and love being able to free women from the tyranny of emotional eating.

  15. Sarah @ Low Stress Weight Loss

    This is a really great post!

    I am very intrigued by the whole intuitive/mindful eating concept too – it’s where I hope to end up but like you I think it’s more a thing for maintenance (with regular check ins on the scale, and a clear line of when you leave “intuitive” and go back to dieting to get back in maintenance range).

    I think a lot of the ideas are skills we need to learn & work on & that most of them are hard. Eating to “satisfaction” means recognizing when you’ve had enough, learning to leave food uneaten, making peace with hunger, knowing really good food from lousy, and a ton of other things that if I knew intimately I might not be fat now… I keep meaning to explore this topic more myself, maybe I’ll start getting around to it soon.

    I did blog today about food journals & the role of intuitive eating in that process :
    http://lowstressweightloss.com/blog/food-journal-ladder/1671

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