On Tuesday I shared a guest post about Intuitive Eating with IBS.
What a friggen HARD thing to figure out.
And that’s just the two contenders. When you throw in a history of an eating disorder and therefore a still learning/shifting/growing mindset about food intake, you’ve got one seriously messy pool to wade through.
I thought Joyce’s’ post was spot on. A few things she said spoke strongly to me and I felt relieved to know I’m not the only one who makes certain – adjustments – when it comes to the stereotypes of “intuitive eating.” Or that I’m not the only one who deals with some the questions/concerns/worries that this provokes. I wanted to make my own comments on the topic, so I’m linking up with Amanda for some TOL.
That it’s okay to use your brain.
pumpkin oats / banana / almond butter / chocolate granola
“I have to pay attention to more psychological things like “Do I want more food? Am I still distracted by thoughts of food?”
I often feel a lot of guilt, because I feel like more often than not I am eating “mentally” rather than physically. By this I mean eating because something in me just feels like I “should,” rather than because of any physical sensation of hunger. Whether it is just common sense or whether it is because I am still stuck on the “meal plan” and eating times that got engrained in me while I was in the ED recovery program, I find myself eating at certain times just….because.
That could potentially sound wrong, couldn’t it?
When I realize after the fact that I wasn’t actually “hungry,” and yet went ahead and ate that meal anyways, there can be a lot of self deprecation.
You have no will power
You have no self control
Why did you eat that much? You didn’t need to…
Everyone else can go hours without eating… why can’t you?
Beer cheddar scone with butta
It’s hard to have these thoughts. They can raise a lot of internal questions about my level of control around food and…
…. do I ever eat intuitively!?!
But, as Joyce wrote, maybe it is okay to use your brain, too? If scientifically we know that food is our fuel and that our bodies and brains need that fuel in order to thrive and work at their best, maybe it is okay to simply ensure it has energy to use – at healthy increments of time.
Brunch with the parents. You may not believe it but I actually wasn’t the one playing with my food. Two fried eggs on sourdough dough + back bacon + a little extra smile.
“…using your head is a big part of intuitive eating. If, for instance, it’s 6:00 or 7:00 pm and I haven’t eaten since lunch, I usually go ahead and eat, even if my tummy’s still feeling tight and uncomfortable.”
Thank you… again.
If one has a history of an eating disorder, a slew of other factors need to come into play as well. Psychologically and physically. I still have no idea where my hunger ques are at. As I’ve mentioned before, my main signs of hunger are anxiety and irritability. I rarely get stomach pangs or any physical signs of hunger other than maybe feeling weak.
I also know I am hungry if I can’t stop thinking about food. I’ve been becoming more mindful of this. When I am totally able to focus on my work or task at hand and realize – after the fact – that I was not thinking about food, this is when I know I was properly fueled. Our body-brain connection is fascinating.
Ham/cheese sandwich + garden tomatoes + green juice with kale/spinach/chard/lemon/ginger/cayenne
So if my hunger signs show up more mentally than physically, intuitive eating – to me – doesn’t really mean waiting for my body to tell me I need to eat.
Instead, it has meant forming a lifestyle where I eat just because I know I probably “should.” Even if this elicits guilt, I know based on my weight and mental history of wanting to limit what I eat, I need to continue to disregard that guilt and trust that what I am doing is okay.
It’s hard. No doubt about it.
Farm-to-table pizza with the parents: Half Eggplant Parmesan / Half Spicy Prosciutto with honey and lemon ricotta
“…as well as simply asking myself, “Was this a reasonable amount of food?”
This has been a hard one.
With my recent digestive issues and stomach pains, I’ve been finding I get either bloated or a sore stomach after certain foods or amounts of food I would have easily had in the past. This, again, can elicit a lot of guilt and feelings of having no control.
You didn’t need that much – why didn’t you stop?!
For example, one night after work last week, I ate a bowl of soup with rice and some sweet potato. I was really hungry as I was eating, but once I was all done, I was painfully full. It was so easy for me to think I had eaten too much and more than I actually needed to. But….
Those are all good things and the amount I had shouldn’t have normally been that filling.
Just because my stomach now sometimes decides to flare up or disagree with what I eat does not mean I’ve done something wrong.
These new stomach discomforts I am now learning to face – though they have been a lot better lately (knock on wood please!!) – are so misplaced and confusing that I cannot have them dictate my guilt when it comes to food. And I can’t let a bloated belly tell me I’ve eaten enough. Sometimes my belly feels full but something else in my body feels unsatisfied. When this happens, I have to go to my brain.Sometimes you have to go to your brain when it comes to Intuitive Eating. #useyourbrain… Click To Tweet
One day when I ate these “broccoli tacos” – my current favorite meal at work – my stomach definitely did not agree. But they also made me very happy, so I decided it was worth the risk. I didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, I was choosing happiness. ‘Cause seriously…. quinoa battered broccoli + cabbage slaw + avocado + jalepeno lime dressing + pumpkin seeds…. #heaven.
If I see a clear connection between a certain food and bloating or pain, then eating intuitively would mean staying away from these things. Otherwise, relying on psychological factors such as a) what am I craving?? b) will this meal make me happy?? c) how many hours has it been since I ate? and d) was this a normal amount of food? can also be tickets to what it means to eat intuitively.
Carrot cake + my cottage cheese fluff as icing + chocolate covered ginger. Mmmm late night dessert time.
To conclude, I think intuitive eating whilst struggling with IBS is totally possible, as long as you are not stuck on any sort of “stereotypical” definitions of what IE means. Intuitive eating should mean doing what is best for you, feeling clear about your choices, and knowing your “whys.” If you know you need to eat at certain times or else you will start to feel irritable, or you know your healthy amounts of food intake even if your stomach gave you discomfort afterwards, you are making clear choices focused toward your health. And I think that is intuitive eating.What It Means To Eat Intuitively When You Have IBS #intuitiveating #IBS #eatindisorder #recovery… Click To Tweet
So tell me,
When do you feel like you are eating intuitively?
What are your hunger markers? Are they more physical or psychological?
Do you ever rely on your brain more than your body?
I also really appreciated this article. Especially the author’s comment on eating out of “habit.”
“I’m not always hungry when I first wake up in the morning, but I almost always eat breakfast at home before I leave the house so that I don’t eat something I regret later. One benefit of having strong and consistent healthy eating habits is that your brain learns to moderate your hunger levels according to the rhythms you set.”
As well as her reminder that
“…Many of these may seem like “bad” reasons to eat…. However, the underlying needs behind all these motivations are perfectly valid.”