I dieted from a fairly young age. I had decided I was fat (no I wasn’t) and would go on the popular diet of the time with my Mom who was usually on it as well. I learned that I was terrible with food restrictions. Dieting felt like I was holding my breath. Any restriction didn’t last more than a few days and I would “blow“ the diet. But what I learned that I was really good at was judging myself by what I was eating. This went on for years. I perfected my self-judgment. If I ate a sweet I would judge myself a bad dietitian who was a Mother of questionable influence and definitely bad with self-care. There was a lot of BAD about eating a “nutrient poor” food (sweets/treats). This was emotionally exhausting. So when I started the intuitive eating process and REALLY allowed myself to eat without judgment it felt like I was being let out of jail.
If no food was “bad” than of course I was going to start with the “bad” foods. What did I want the most? I wanted ice cream. One of my favorite foods besides chocolate is ice cream. Once I gave myself REAL permission to eat all foods and not judge myself I went a bit nuts. If it was no longer bad to eat ice cream I was going to EAT ice cream. I live close to a Dairy Queen, which is one of my favorite soft ice cream spots, and I went there - a lot. I told myself that if it wasn’t bad I was really going to enjoy every bite. I was going to look people in the eye and say yum I love ice cream. I wasn’t going to hide it – or eat it alone – away from judging eyes. I was going to own my love of ice cream. Once I tasted it I realized I actually liked the vanilla as well as the chocolate – bizarre – but true. And my favorite way to eat it is with mini chocolate chips mixed in but they don’t carry that at the store so I would have to add them at home.
Of course Intuitive Eating asks you to wait to eat until you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied. I was never more excited to notice hunger in my life. But the hard part was stopping when I was satisfied. It was SO disappointing. I eat fairly quickly and my satisfaction happened quickly too. I would try to slow down the process but let me just say I know that I have no French genetics in my family. I really felt bad that I was going to stop eating the food. That was hard work. It tasted so good and looked so good and put a smile on my face. The only thing that helped was that I gave myself permission to get the ice cream any time I got hungry. At first I didn’t keep it at home. That would have been too hard but I went to Dairy queen a lot. Over time as I finally reached my “fill” I was able to bring home the leftovers and keep it for another time that I got hungry. It took a lot of practice for me to get to where ice cream was just another food I enjoyed. But the practice was really FUN and tasty!
I still work on not judging myself for eating nutritionally poor foods. But what was awesome was that once I DID allow myself to eat all foods WITHOUT judgment I truly was able to give the food some perspective and it lost a lot of its strong restrictive allure and became more neutral. I don’t hide it or binge on it or judge myself anymore. I just – smile – and enjoy every bite! Yum.
Intuitive Eating is a term developed by Evelyn Tribole MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA, CEDRD. Their book is called Intuitive Eating.
Sarah Gold is an intuitive eater, dietitian, chocolate lover, and dog lover,