Thursday, April 21, 2011

Intuitive Eh?

The intuitive eating bible.
Does anyone else freakin’ not get intuitive eating? I’m finally at the point in my treatment and recovery where my dietician is trying to help me figure it out, and I’m like whaaaaa? Eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re full? Honor your hunger? Be mindful of what you eat? So is all this gonna happen when, you know, pigs fly, or when J. Lo stops bugging the hell out of me? (That will NEVER HAPPEN. NEVER.)

I was first introduced to the concept of intuitive eating when I was admitted to treatment for the first time at 17 years old. The idea at the treatment center I was at, was to be on a weight gain meal plan, and then once I reached my goal weight, I was to slowly learn how to eat enough by myself to maintain my weight, and that was to happen with the help of intuitive eating. Well, once I got to the “intuitive eating” part of treatment, I took that as an invitation to eat less, promptly lose weight, then promptly get my skinny butt kicked off of it and back onto a stringent meal plan.

So, in all my ten years of treatment, (both in and outpatient) I’ve never really gotten intuitive eating – I don’t think I’ve ever successfully pulled it off before. People have talked about it with me, and I’ve kind of just viewed it was this thing that seemed cool but completely unattainable. So, I kind of ignored it and continued begrudgingly on in my meal plan. Well, a couple of months ago, when my dietician broached the subject of beginning intuitive eating with me, I was excited. I mean, I was finally graduating up a level from a strict meal plan, which meant that I was maintaining my weight (or gaining weight with the pregnancy, in my case) and I figured I was finally ready.
But that quickly changed to not feeling very ready AT ALL.
A few weeks of intuitive eating, and I was begging my dietician to put me back on a meal plan – and really, how often have you long-time readers heard me complain about my freakin’ meal plan? I must have been incredibly desperate if I wanted to go back to that suckage! The freedom I was given to eat what I wanted when I wanted felt terrifying, not freeing. I felt out of control with my eating and with weight gain. I decided intuitive eating sucked and that I COULD NEVER DO IT wah wah wah.

She convinced me to give it a shot, to keep trying. As I told my therapist of my fears and slip-ups regarding intuitive eating, she made me feel better by telling me that I’ve had my ED for so long, OF COURSE they didn’t expect me to get intuitive eating right away – it made sense that this was so tough for me and would probably take me a long time to fully understand and feel comfortable with. But, they both somehow worked their voodoo magic on me, and here I am, a few months later, still plugging along, trying this intuitive eating thing, rather than staying safe with a meal plan.
Even though it feels terrifying and weird and uncomfy.
Even though I blame it for my pregnancy weight gain. (This makes sense when you don’t think about it. ha!)

So, are there any out there that want to share their views and/or experiences with intuitive eating to make my stressed out little brain feel better? Does it get easier? (If it never does, DON’T TELL ME! ;) What has worked or been helpful for you? Anyone?


Brandon said...

Well, you should take some comfort in the fact that most of America struggles with intuitive eating as well. The Biggest Loser has no shortage of fatties that are obviously not so intuitive with their eating. They are on the other side of the problem. If you are struggling with intuitive eating it is the other end of it, "Am I eating enough, do I feel full?" They are asking, "Is there more food in the fridge, will it fit in my mouth?"
You will get it babe, at least to a point where it isn't such a mind game. Don't look to your cats as an example though, they eat like bear cubs evidently.

brie said...

what a fun surprise to get a comment from my hubby. :) and brandon, thanks for saying what you always, you give me some perspective and logic when i start freaking out and getting irrational. love you!

Krista said...

... and your cats purge! ;)

I really have no comment as I struggle with this concept myself. I think a lot of people do.

KC said...

I've never been able to get it to work...but I've been to enough dietitians who all have very different philosophies on nutrition and EDs that I think there are different answers for everybody! I won't let a provider tell me there is any ONE way to recover anymore. I hear IE works great for a lot of people, but I think other ideas are better for me. :)

brie said...

krista - this has nothing to do with this post, but do you wanna hang out sometime? i think we'd have fun! :)

Will said...

This is tough for everyone as your hubby said.
Most people don't eat b/c they are hungry or stop b/c they are full.
A lot of ppl use food for comfort, sadness or the opposite and use it for control.
To actually be that in tune with your body is a powerful thing and I'm not sure if anyone gets the hang of it. You might understand it but if you are at a party and are full...but there is b-day cake/chips/diet might want it just b/c you want it.
I think the most important thing to take away is being mindful/aware that food is there to nourish your body.
You eat to live. This means eating whole foods (not processed...which are not really food and don't help our system at all) and really that is the purpose of food. To give us energy- enough energy to live.
That is all it is there for- not to make us lose our mind, be scared, or upset. Eat to live.

lisalisa said...

I eat intuitively, kind of. Usually I just eat what sounds good to me. I don't usually tell myself "no" to anything. Suprisingly enough, this has not turned me into an overeater. Just knowing I can have anything I want makes me not obsess over food so much. I do try to have some balance and at most meals I make sure there is a fruit or veggie in there somewhere.

The problem I have with intuitive eating is I'm not sure what to do when I am feeling sick or dont have an appetite, which happens alot since I have been on wellbutrin. I mean, a normal person might just have toast for dinner or skip it alltogether when they are not feeling well. I am not sure if that is ok for me. I usually just force myself to eat what the rest of the family is eating, but it is torture and I feel worse afterward. I guess if I had a dietitian I could talk to her about it.

So I guess, can I ask your opinion on this? Do you think it is ok for someone with a long ed history (but is in solid recovery and well inside a normal BMI range) to skip a meal if she is not feeling well?

I guess my biggest worry is relapsing "accidently".

Ok, so my other thought for you, is that you cant really judge the effect that IE is having on your weight because you are not in a normal weight situation (but I'm sure you know this). I would keep going with it even if it is scary....I think that eventually it will start to feel more natural.

Jen said...

Hi, I don't comment often but this is a subject near to my little heart. I had to read IE as an assignment in a college nutrition course. I laughed my head off when the professor (who I had a great deal of respect for) told me how great this concept was. It felt so wrong, like I was cheating on nutrition. 10 years later it has actually worked wonders for me personally. I'm a dietitian (don't hate just yet :) ) and I've tried teaching this concept to oodles of people and what I've learned is it is such a learned and unfamiliar concept. Personally it has freed me from years of calorie counting and borderline obsessing about food (yes I know I'm a dietitian should I be admitting this?, but of course)
I know it doesn't feel like it at the time and you probably want to smack your dietitian in the face but don't give up because I have no doubt in the long run it has the ability to feel like freedom even if right now it feels like you are out of control.

Whit said...

I am the perfect example of intuitive eating! Just look at me ;)

Whit said...

Oh, and I want in on you and Krista's play date.

Katie said...

Hi Brie :)

I don't tend to comment on your posts very often (you have so many other lovely commenters!) but intuitive eating I can do, both in comment form and in practise. I started trying to get the hang of it about 14 months ago, after recovering from 13 years of eating disorder. It was really difficult knowing what the heck a hunger cue felt like at first - it must be even more anxiety provoking for you as you are pregnant, so you are naturally going to be more hungry than you would if you were "learning" intuitive eating at a different point in your life. But please, please keep going with it. All this effort will pay off as long as you don't freak out and restrict, which is easy to do! After more than a year of keeping on myself I feel like I've *got it* now. I don't count calories or weigh portions, I can tell when I am hungry as if by magic and I can leave food on my plate if my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I'm full already. I am within 2lbs of the original target weight I reached in January 2010, and except for when I had about five stomach bugs in a row last summer I've stayed more or less this weight throughout the whole time I've been eating intuitively. I'm sure pregnancy complicates things, but I am equally sure that this will work out for you in the long term. It's so freeing and the novelty value of eating what I want and not gaining/losing still hasn't worn off! Like I said, it's like magic :)

Katie x

Laur said...

Hey, you can do it! With your experience with meal plans, you have some good base knowledge, so you know what a well-balanced meal is, and that you should eat pretty often throughout the day, so take that and go from there. When you think about what to eat think about what sounds good and will be a good mix of food groups. I don't count calories or exchanges or anything. I just think about what I want and usually include a few different foods, like oatmeal is great, but even better when topped with peanut butter and a banana-carbs, protein, fat, and fruit-makes my mouth and body happy!

Sia Jane said...

Never read it.
Never read anything like it.
If you don't connect, you don't connect.
It doesn't mean you are not fighting just as hard.
We are all so different, and I often think that over focus, again, on food, can be a tad more damaging.
You have to do what feels right for YOU xxx

Anonymous said...

Like you, I initially did not get the philosophy AT ALL. I clung to my meal plan with all my might and never strayed from it.
What helped me was going to restaurants and eating intuitively there. Ordering things that I just didn't know the exchanges of, etc. It took some practice to really tell when I was "satisfied," but I slowly got the hang of it. Yes, it's scary because there *were* sometimes I was actually full and I hated that feeling. But it was worth it, in the long run, because now I'm fully on intuitive.
I then moved on to intuitive snacks, then easily moved on to meals. This whole process took a while! If you have any questions feel free to ask. Good luck!

Krista said...

Hells yes! Email me or text if you still have my number.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I love your blog. I love your candid-ness. I have been reading for a while, but not sure I've commented before... ?

Anywho, I haven't read the book and honestly am in no place to do so. Something about seeing myself trying to be "perfectly intuitive" just doesn't seem to flow with me. I can understand your fear and hesitation, even as solid as you are in recovery!

Seems like a spectacular concept and worth the experiment, though! I'm totally willing to try it, just not right this second... I mean, my body can tell me when it needs certain foods? Who knew?!? Sometimes it wants certain foods just because and that's okay, too? Brilliant!! If I "mess up" once in a while and feel full or not satisfied, my body will tell me how to remedy the situation, too?!? Wow.

I can see how it would be liberating. And terrifying. What a great time, during pregnancy when there are all sorts of cravings to cater to, so the little one stays happy!!

brie said...

thank you ALL for your comments, input, opinions, etc. it's helped me a ton and what would i do without you??