The first instruction of intuitive eating or inner wisdom nutrition is to eat when you are hungry. What happens when you decide to eat when you’re not really hungry? Is this failure, is this a new way to ‘fall off the wagon’ or is this to be expected?
Intuitive Eating Might Arrive with Emotional Pain
When I gave up dieting and started eating according to my hunger, I was in a very confronting transitional place. I was allowing myself to feel things I had kept hidden my whole life. I was admitting my darkest secrets to myself and to the world. I experienced a lot of emotional pain and the only way I knew how to cope was with food.
Although I haven’t had an if I eat another thing I will explode junk food feeding frenzy since September 11, I have both eaten when I wasn’t hungry and kept eating past fullness.
There is no failure or guilt attached to eating when you are NOT hungry if you use the experience to learn and grow.
What Just Happened?
Pause briefly to reflect on what made you feel like eating something when you weren’t hungry. Was it the environment, the sight or smell of the food, an uncomfortable emotion (boredom, loneliness, sadness) or your physical state (cold, tired, sore)? You don’t have to DO anything except notice what is going on.
I am choosing to eat a Krispy Kreme Donut (or a bag of dates) even though I’m not really hungry because I saw them on the way home (at the shop) and I am stressed and cold.
Let Go of the Judgement
Don’t beat yourself up for breaking the rules, or letting yourself down. When we feel guilty and ashamed it is because we’ve done something we consider to be morally wrong. There is no right or wrong way to eat so there is no need to feel guilt or shame. Refer to your legitimate, factual reasons above.
It doesn’t mean I am a bad person or immoral because I ate a Donut (bag of dates) when I wasn’t hungry. I am still learning this new way of eating and it is normal for naturally slender people to occasionally have a treat when they are feeling the way I do.
What Would WEK Do?
Consider what your wonderfully evolved future self would do in this situation. Even if you suspect she might not eat the Donut (whole bag of dates), you can still eat it/them anyway. The benefit is in visualising a future where you will find alternative ways to find comfort, not in struggling to do what you think you should be doing.
Wonderfully evolved Katie will know how to find relief from her discomfort or not be in this position in the first place (she’s probably wearing thermal underwear if it’s cold). I am closer to being her that I was yesterday and even though there might be bumps in the road I am still on the right path.
Eat Even More Mindfully
Eat slowly and savour every mouthful ~ make the Donut (bag of dates) last as long as you possibly can. Bless that Donut (dates) with love and gratitude and invite that clever body of yours to use what it needs and get rid of what it doesn’t.
Decide whether your treat actually tastes better than fresh strawberries or your favourite natural whole food. If it does, then relish the experience. If it doesn’t, say goodbye to craving it at all ever again. If your indulgence is a large quantity of natural whole food, try to determine at what point your taste buds start shutting down and it doesn’t taste so good any more.
Thank you God/Universe for this wonderful food that is nourishment for my body and for my soul. I transform it into easily digestible nutrients through love and gratitude. I trust my body’s ability to keep what it needs and to eliminate what it doesn’t. I am using this moment to practice eating slowly, consciously and mindfully. I am choosing to take great care of myself by savouring each bite and accepting myself exactly as I am right here and right now.
Wait Until You’re Hungry Again
Chances are, that as grandma says, “You’ve spoiled your dinner”. Wait until you are truly hungry again before you eat your next meal. You don’t have to eat lightly or eat less to compensate but be open to the possibility that a small light meal is all you want.
I’ll have a salad later I think, I’m still full from afternoon tea.
What Would You Like Instead?
Imagine what might happen the next time you are in the same situation and think of what you would like instead. This programs your brain to find other solutions for next time. It is like a dress rehearsal in your head.
Next time I’m cold and stressed I’m going to go home first, have a hot shower and a cup of tea. If I still want a treat then, I’ll go and get one. Maybe I could buy myself a magazine instead or some new perfume rather than food. I could also wait until dinner and order in something really special rather than those leftovers waiting in the fridge.
Strange as it may seem, the darkest moments are signposts that a breakthrough is coming. Every single time I have let go of my ‘self control’ and allowed myself to indulge my cravings I have shortly thereafter experienced days of wonder and bliss. Healing comes from living consciously and loving yourself with all your imperfections. There is no other pathway to change.
You Always Get to Choose
There is no good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse. There is just what you choose freely from an open heart. When you fully participate in all your choices and own them as part of your unique experience then you are growing and learning.
Did You Know …
- Eating is an issue of self-care, not moral correctness.An analogy can make this easier to see. Your body needs sleep as well as nutrition. Do you feel wracked with guilt and shame if you stay up all night? You may feel annoyed with yourself when you’re tired the next day, but you don’t feel guilt and shame. You know that it’s your right to stay up all night if you choose, even if it’s not the best choice for your health.
It’s the same with eating. You have the right to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and however much you want. You are responsible for your own self-care, but your right to choose what you eat is absolute. There’s nothing to feel guilty about. ~ Sheryl Canter
→ photo : Rodrigo Basaure