Why I am trying intuitive eating

[eating disorder, mention of weights, calories]

My eating has been so much better since I read Intuitive Eating a fortnight ago. I have seen snippets and opinions on this book and its concepts on the internet for years. I’ve made attempts at that style of eating before including after my second diet when I gained back 150% of the weight I lost. I wrote it off after that. Reading the book and really paying attention to what I was reading has made me realise the parts I didn’t understand and given me much more complete, authoritative information.

A key part of intuitive eating is giving up dieting and putting weight loss on the back burner so allowing your weight to drift to your natural set point. I have a problem with this concept as from the way I understand set point theory, you can’t really change your set point and mine is (or was, it is likely higher now after dieting again) well into an obese BMI. Yes, I know BMI is bullshit but it’s a rough illustration without using numbers. In the past, if I eat to my appetite then that is the weight I go to. I have gained a lot of privilege and freedoms by changing from a fat (why I am using this word) person into a straight sized person and I don’t want to give them up. The fact that I may have no choice makes me despair. I am still thinking that I would rather be at war (and it is a goddamn war) with my body, my hunger and food than go back to being treated the way I was when I was fat.

For nearly two years, when I decided what to eat, I did it in the calorie counting app MyFitnessPal and followed the rules that I had picked and chosen and labelled ‘healthy’. It was actually a pretty big surprise to me that most people use internal cues (what food looks appealing, noticing when hunger starts inside their body, stopping when their body signals ‘full’) to chose when and what to eat and when to stop. When calorie counting I had a relentless drive to try to feel full and often did not. My hunger signals were numbed though. I just felt stretched and under pressure. That’s because my body was stressed by the calorie restriction. The disappearance of that stretched feeling is lovely. It’s not gone completely though and that makes me worry that I am going to gain a lot of weight. Everything is making me worry that I am going to gain a lot of weight. I am preoccupied by this.

This is what I wrote a couple of days before starting intuitive eating but was reading through the book:

I haven’t given up dieting though I’m considering it. I am very worried about what will happen to my weight if I stop restricting my calorie intake. There are good clinical studies that say that intuitive eaters have lower BMIs than emotional eaters but I think my natural set point is much higher than my current weight (and I am currently five pounds above my chosen target). I had pretty much come to terms with logging my food for the rest of my life. But it was such a battle as I had frequent urges to binge and overeat (or what I would consider overeat) and periods of fucking horrendous binging. The part I am doing is the mindful eating which is no phone, no book and no TV when eating even a snack let alone a meal and really feeling the sensations of eating, slowly and deliberately. I bathe my brain in the sensations of eating. I am trying to eat the foods that sound appealing to me and I really want rather than what is arbitrarily considered ‘healthy’. I have noticed that I do a lot of not eating when hungry in the morning after exercise and eating when not hungry but have scheduled snacks in the evening. My satisfaction in eating has increased dramatically and the urges to binge have fallen away a lot. They are no longer as overwhelming although I have binged three times this month, it was less out of control and much better than the days of multiple binging I’ve had before. I even have moments where I feel at peace with food: like it’s all okay. Which is just goddamn astonishing to me. I would like to reduce the fat on my abdomen but I would also like to have more of these feelings of peace. More dieting or take a chance on doing intuitive eating properly and hope it doesn’t make me gain weight.

If things had continued like that with the reduced binge urges, and maybe even some small binges, then I think I would have just went on calorie counting with mindful eating and putting up with my disordered eating. But I had an out of control binge (thousands of calories) and was plunged into low mood and intense suicidal thoughts. It just seemed ridiculous to be affected so badly. And I was curious what would happen if I followed the principles of intuitive eating properly. I am just so tired of all the fighting. The moments of peace were beautiful and I wanted more. I like routine, and some of mine are quite inflexible, but I was bored of my routine of calorie counting and restricting. The main thing was the out of control binges and the resulting weight gain. I have a hope that if I don’t binge anymore then my weight will drift down again. I also won’t have the mood disturbances and suicidal thoughts. I have the fear of weight gain driving me to try intuitive eating and the fear of weight gain sabotaging me from fully committing to intuitive eating. Maybe I will eventually realise that weight is just not that important. Feeling at peace is important.

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