A Day In The Life: Intuitive Eating
"I ate a wafer cookie, and it was delicious, and I didn't die," I wrote to my dietitian.
She responded, "Best email ever to start my week, thank you for your bravery! Any future plans for wafer cookies?" I didn't answer her question, because I don't know. We're working on addressing fear foods, disassociating the words "good" and "bad" from any specific food, and embracing a complete attitude of neutrality in/around/about everything concerning food. Easier said than done.
My dietitian teaches Intuitive Eating, which mostly means that I'm learning to listen to my body's hunger cues and give my body the nourishment it needs. What my body wants/needs is constantly changing because my activity levels, cravings, hormones, and life is constantly changing. Intuitive eating is a sharp left turn from my disordered eating days when I fed my body the same, calorie-restricted foods in an effort to control my weight/body/life.
I get a lot of questions about what I eat, because vegans and runners seem very interested in food. I also receive many questions about Intuitive Eating, but I'm no expert. I recommend reading the original Intuitive Eating book: Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Tribole and Resch were the originators of the term "Intuitive Eating," though the concept can be traced back to Susie Orbach, who published “Fat is a Feminist Issue” in 1978, and Geneen Roth, who has written about emotional eating since 1982. Who better to learn from than the experts?
I can't tell you everything (or most things) about Intuitive Eating, but I can show you how a day of Intuitive Eating looks for me. (Note: this is not how a day of Intuitive Eating should look for you.)
My caloric needs are constantly changing, and therefore the food I need constantly changes. One day, I ran 24 miles in the mountains and my caloric needs were high. My body craved citrus and sugar and easy-to-digest foods. Another day, I wasn't hungry all morning so I didn't eat until noon. Letting go of any strict food rules allows me to give my body exactly what it needs. It also relieves me of the stress and anxiety that often accompanies food. I don't worry about what I eat, and neither should you!
Intuitive eating is better for your mind and body, and its the only type of eating (or "diet") that has been correlated in multiple, peer-reviewed studies with long-term weight loss and maintenance. It's also been show to have a positive impact on LDL and HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation markers. In addition to positive physical outcomes, Intuitive Eating has been associated with positive psychological outcomes as well, including improved body satisfaction, a decrease in restrictive or disordered eating behaviors, and decreased rates of depression.
The day I tracked my food, I ran ~8.5 miles on hilly trails with a few new running friends. We met at 5:30 and began our run in the dark, which meant I was up at 5. Not pictured below are the 3 cups of coffee I consumed that day; two in the morning and one later in the afternoon.
My breakfast is usually oatmeal or toast with bananas and peanut butter. You'll see that I really love the banana+nut butter combo.
I usually bring my lunch to work because I'd rather not buy food. This lunch was a veggie burger, broccoli, roasted potatoes, and an orange. Nobody said I was a food photographer, btw.
In the afternoon, I had a spoonful of peanut butter and a banana. I don't like crunchy pb, and I purchased this by accident. And in case anyone cares, natural and conventional peanut butter aren't that different.
I ate dinner out, and the only vegan menu option was a Beyond Meat Burger on a gluten free bun. I disassembled the burger for ease, and ordered a glass of chardonnay, also for ease.
I didn't include serving sizes or nutrition information because that doesn't matter. I ate until I was satiated, and I consumed food I like eating. Best of all, my body felt nourished and I never worried about what/when/how much I'd be eating. Since embracing intuitive eating, my weight has remained the same. I've felt more freedom around food than I have in over a decade, and I trust my body. Pretty damn cool, right?
P.S. To read more research about Intuitive Eating, go HERE. Watch YouTuber and Licensed Therapist, Kati Morton, talk about Intuitive Eating HERE. Watch Evelyn Tribole give a lecture on Intuitive Eating HERE.