Lil Miss Fitness Freak

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When Intuitive Eating Becomes Dangerous

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It seems that amongst some of the diet trends, intuitive eating has become something similar to a movement as of lately. I almost get the sense that those who speak on their ability to ‘listen to their body’ and intuitively eat feel as if they are on a higher level then those who are tracking macros or practicing counting of any kind.

intuitive eating

Intuitive eating is understood as ‘natural eating’ or eating the way we all really should be. It’s quite simple. You eat when you’re hungry rather than based on the society’s created meal schedule. You stop when you are satisfied rather than when everything on your plate is done. Finally, you eat an amount based on body signals rather then set macros.

From a psychological standpoint, there is supposed to be zero guilt along with this way of eating because this is eating based truly on your body’s signals. If you are doing it right than you should be able to live without extreme cravings because when you do want something less nutrient dense you can have it in moderation without going overboard and over-indulging in it.

Food is therefore seen in a positive light and not seen as ‘bad foods’ vs ‘good foods.’

intuitive eating

Simple right? So this should be how we look at food…

But this isn’t always the case and I would argue that this idea of 100% following your body is actually impossible in our society these days. In more extreme cases, trying to listen to your body can actually be quite dangerous.

Let’s address the latter part of that statement first. Take me as an example, with all of my IBS symptoms and past ED experiences, I simply CANNOT attempt intuitive eating or I would loose weight like it was going out of style. Recently, I haven’t really felt much hunger. My IBS is really getting nasty and so food is just eaten and without being prompted by my body. Even post workout most days, I’m eating when I’m not feeling hunger because I know I have to eat. If I were to wait until I was hungry, I would be lucky to break 1000 calories I would guess.

The other issue here is satiety. Satiety for someone who has struggled in the past with food issues is not only physical but also equally mental. I may be having a bad body image day and look at a plate of food and assume it’s too much and actually feel full faster.

Your mind is powerful and can actually trick you into thinking you have had enough when you have actually under eaten.

Also, if you’re eating begins when you’re not feeling hunger, then technically you are already breaking the rule of ‘following your body signals’ no?

I-said-im-h602zv

So in a case such as mine, I have to track my macros and eat what is in front of me because it’s what my body needs to keep weight on and be able to fuel the rest of my day and training the following day. At the present time, that is just how it is and I have to accept that it is what will keep me on track and healthy.

On the other side of the spectrum, if someone is drastically overweight and used to eating certain excessive amounts of calories, they may have to feel a degree of hunger when making changes to their lifestyle to benefit their health. So in this case, once again, they may need to forgo what their body is telling them and eat based on a plan if that is what needs to be done to get them to a healthier body weight.

Now, I say this BUT at the same time I truly believe that the types of food that people choose to eat make all the difference here. Wholesome and nutrient dense foods are filled with fibre and water much more then processed and fast foods. As a result, they end up being just as filling (if not more) despite being dramatically lower in calories. In this case, people need to be educated on food choices so that they can avoid that hunger feeling as much as possible.

Again the mind may come into play here too, so a change of mind set may be in order. If you feel that something may not fill you up, that may just end up being the case. Be open minded and truly FEEL your body. 

….

So these are extreme parts of the spectrum, but I also mentioned that think that even the bulk of the population can never truly be intuitive eaters based on how it was described earlier.

Why?

~ Does anyone these days truly see food as food? Can 100% say that they haven’t changed their choice based the fact that what they wanted was ‘bad’?

~Jobs and school don’t actually allow for us to be 100% in tune with our hunger. You can’t just get up and walk out of class because you got hungry. No, you have to wait. By the time you get out of class you may be starving and eat so fast that you aren’t really listening to your body’s signals. On the other hand, you could decide to eat before when you aren’t hungry…

~Social events are almost always around food. Do you think the majority of people who attend cocktail hour are actually truly hungry…or is it just that the food is there and others are eating it that we eat it too?

~We are generally eating while doing something like driving, watching TV, studying, etc so we are often unable to recognize true satiety. I believe that this is one of the biggest problems these days. We need to be less distracted when we eat, then maybe many wouldn’t overeat as often as they do. 

There are probably other things I could bring up here as well but I will leave it at those. You see, we can never really say we are 100% intuitive eaters. Society has pushed it’s norms onto us so much that we feel guilty about food and label it a junk or bad food, when truly, there is no bad food, just less nutritious options. **Unless it’s legit not even food… We all have to admit that we don’t take the time to really listen to our cues because we don’t have the time to be patient. We restrict ourselves against our cravings so they just grow and become monsters.

So in this case, I believe that the only TRUE intuitive eaters are infants and toddlers, those who have not been influenced so heavily by society yet. Well, maybe physiologically (as they don’t have a choice of food options mostly) they are intuitive. They will tell you when they are hungry and full in most cases. It is us adults who force food onto them and make them eat according to a schedule.

baby-eating-cake

So, while I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t be proud of listening to your body and feeling based on cues and needs, because EVERYONE deserves to be at peace with food and just enjoy it, I think this whole intuitive eating movement has gotten a lil dragged out. People just need to do what works best for them and not preach to others how to be a better eater. If tracking is what works best then do it. If eating whenever works for you, than go with that. We are all at different stages and by putting this type of eating on a pedestal, it may leave those who don’t or can’t eat in this way feel as if they are weaker mentally.

It would be nice if everyone could just eat to enjoy and to live without much thought, but that just isn’t realistic for most. I think my major point, I guess, is that we need to stop placing fancy labels on things like this because it isn’t anything special or something that will or can be followed by everyone. It’s just a way of life for some and perhaps a goal for others.

Sorry if this post seemed kind of strange or random, it was just something I wanted to comment on. Thanks for reading friends and happy Tuesday.

-Chelsea

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