Non-dieting, demand feeding, intuitive eating, normal eating, conscious eating. Different names, same definition. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. The holy grail of eating disordered folks everywhere. It sounds simple enough, but truth be told, it is much harder than dieting. When you diet, you don’t have to think. You just do what you are told to do, eat what you are told to eat, and heaven forbid you should stray one inch. This however, makes you think. You have to think about why you are eating and, if you aren’t hungry why don’t you just stop? Oh, there are rules. Well, more like guidelines than rules. Eat when you are hungry, stop when satisfied. But what if you don’t know you are hungry? What if you don’t remember what it feels like to be truly hungry? Or worse, (for me anyway) how do you stop when you are satisfied? How do you stop a freight train when it is going through the kitchen 150 miles an hour? How do you stop eating ice cream when it tastes oh so good? This is my struggle. I can wait for hunger, no problem. It’s when I start eating, I don’t want to stop, that is the problem.
I have to admit, I am somewhat new to the whole idea of intuitive eating. Well, actually I was introduced to it almost 10 years ago through the Weigh Down Workshop. I know, I know. Scary zealot telling me God will be mad at me if I don’t lose 5 pounds. So after 12 weeks of that, I tossed normal eating out the window and began a heart wrenching journey of dieting that has taken its toll. When I did WDW, I was 150 pounds. Now 10 years and countless diets later, I am at a whopping 175 pounds (for me at 5’4″ it is whopping). How did this happen? I began dieting. I have been on the diet bandwagon and have fallen off numerous times. Some diets lasted several months, some lasted less than a day. My diets have included WDW, Body for Life, Weight Watchers (4 times), Denise Austin’s Jump Start, and some of my own inventions that never lasted very long. The breaking point came when I was on round number 4 of WW, following the Core Plan. The foods were very healthy and tasted great and you were allowed to eat as much of the core foods you needed to feel satisfied. I thought, “This is great! This is just what I need!” But I soon began to realize, I couldn’t stop when I was satisfied. I couldn’t even stop when I was full! And then came the snack list (as I remember it). The Core Plan snack list included fruit, vegetables, 94% ff plain or butter-flavored popcorn, and ff milk. And nothing else. Nothing!!! You mean I can’t eat yogurt as a snack? Nope. I can’t have 94% FF Kettle Corn? Nope, it’s a high risk food – you can’t be trusted with a high risk food. So basically what WW is telling me is that I am a moron who cannot make my own snack choices because I might just go berserk and eat an entire carton of yogurt. Thanks WW, you rock!
So, I began my quest for normal eating. Instinctively I knew that what WDW was telling me was the most logical way to weight loss, but I just couldn’t stand Gwen Shamblin looking down her nose at me telling me that I’m not good enough for God if I eat one bite past satisfied. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure God loves me know matter what I eat. I sincerely hope my salvation doesn’t hang on whether or not I eat 2 Fritos or 222. I Googled “intuitive eating” and lo and behold, a whole list of sites popped up devoted to the idea of eating like a normal person. I ordered Linda Moran’s How to Survive Your Diet, and I liked it. Then I discovered an online program called Shrink Yourself. I am on week 9 of the 12 week program, and I have learned a lot about why I eat, and why I binge, and why I can’t stop eating. I am also learning that this journey is doing to take far longer than 12 weeks to complete. I am going to explore some more non-dieting resources, and just keep plugging along until this thing clicks,
because I know, I know that this is the only way I am going to get my eating under control. What outcome am I hoping for? I am anticipating the day when food is not the focus of my day. When a plate of chocolate chip cookies doesn’t send me into a panic attack. When eating a salad is good and not the evil diet food as I have come to view it. When I can be so wrapped up in a hobby that I forget to eat. When I can be at peace with my body and my food issues. Oh what a glorious day that will be! And I know it is out there somewhere, just waiting for me to take hold of it and LIVE.