Here's a post from my blog at http://dear-mr-anonymous.blogspot.com/ that I wanted to share with you all concerning my philosophy of eating :) dig in!
Dear Mr. Anonymous,
A friend dear to my heart has prompted me today to share my stories and thoughts on eating with the universe. He is currently struggling with something I run into daily: getting others to see the joys and freedom that come from eating intuitively and abandoning the restrictive lives we follow.
Here are my thoughts:
That intuitive eating could possibly be the answer is hard enough on its own for someone to believe, let alone for him/her to convince others of. Believe me. I encounter people on a daily basis that are suffering terribly, trapped in the viscous cycle of restricting their bodies of essential desires and needs. However, it is not their fault; we are all brought up to believe certain societal lies: there are good foods and bad foods, any amount of fat on the body is unhealthy, if I eat "junk" food I will self-destruct, and the list goes on. While we are born intuitive eaters, this right is quickly stripped from us before we even have the chance to decide our path for ourselves.
In society, we are bombarded by signs that we do not know how to eat on our own and need external cues and sources to tell us what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, and basically, to control our every decision. However, internally, our bodies are constantly fighting and trying their very hardest to show us that they know what's best. From the day we come into this world, our bodies are able to acknowledge the basic instincts of hunger: a baby cries when he or she needs nourishment, our tummies churn and grumble when our energy levels are low and our bodies need fuel, we tire when we have exerted ourselves without rest, we start to salivate and think about food as our hunger builds...Our bodies know best what they need and no external source can replace our innate, internal wisdom.
Intuitive eating is a promise to ourselves to take care of our bodies; to nourish ourselves physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually; to give into our cravings and desires; and to be compassionate and kind to ourselves by tending to our needs and making sure they are met.
Intuitive eating is nourishing our bodies with food when they are physically hungry and differentiating this from emotional hunger. Intuitive eating is tapping into our physical hunger, acknowledging it, and tending to it. And when we are satisfied and full, intuitive eating stopping eating and carrying this new energy into our lives so that we can be fully present and aware. Intuitive eating is allowing our bodies to crave what they want and then to give it to them, because they know best what they need to strive. At first, intuitive eating is scary and lacks the security of being controlled by external cues, so we can expect mess ups; sometimes we may forget care for ourselves and we may go hungry for a while, sometimes we may be presented with a delicious meal and overindulge, sometimes we may feed our emotional hunger with food rather than connecting to ourselves and fulfilling its true needs. All of these mistakes are solely moments in time and will pass; our hunger will grow so strong that we are forced to tend to it, the uncomfortable feelings caused by overeating will soon dissipate and it will take a bit longer for us to once again be hungry, and we will recognize that shoveling our emotions down with food does not allow us to feel them and truly move through them. Relearning how to eat intuitively requires time, patience, trust, and openness. While, we may have forgotten how to feel our hunger, tend to it, and be satisfied and full, we never completely lose intuitive eating...it just needs to be rediscovered.
Time to bust through some of the myths people hold:
1. "Sweets/carbs/etc. are bad and if I allow myself to eat them I will never stop and my body will explode. "
Okay, all food breaks down to energy in the end, which our bodies need to survive, so how is it that anything that sustains life and fuels our bodies be "bad"? When we put restrictions on our eating and categorize food as "good" or "bad", we give food a power that it shouldn't possess. When candy/carbs/etc. are labeled "bad" we restrict ourselves of them and tell our bodies "no" when they crave their deliciousness and sweet energy. Not allowing ourselves to have what we crave only heightens those cravings making them stronger and all the more powerful. Two outcomes can come from this restriction of diet:
a. As with 98% of dieters that end up gaining back all of their lost weight (plus some), there is this mind set: "I ate one bite of (insert "bad" food here), I have failed my diet so I should continue to stuff myself since I have already screwed up. My diet will start again tomorrow. And I will restrict my life once more." If people were to just offer their bodies the food they initially desired, they may have been able to just eat the amount they wanted, until satisfied, and move on with the rest of their day, not giving food that power over their lives, end even perhaps not craving that food again for a few hours, days, weeks, or even months... Instead, they are left to berate, scold, and punish themselves by reinstating their diets (continuing the viscous cycle of restricting and binging).
b. The other 2% of dieters who keep the weight off (keep in mind that this 2% includes many with eating disorders) have this mindset: "I am okay, happy, and successful, right? I didn't give into my cravings and bodily desires. I am restricting, losing weight, and ignoring my body's needs. I may not be happy doing this but once I am skinny I will be and my life will be perfect. I will forever not listen to my body and have restrictions on my diet and my life." Sounds like a great way to live, eh?
However, there is another option. By allowing ourselves to eat what we want, we do not give food this power over our lives. We find that we are able to eat what we crave, be satisfied and full, and move on to our next venture. All foods are equally good and provide us the energy to live, engage, and grow. By not putting labels on food we are able to solely eat them when we want to and the constant craving for a particular food slowly subsides over time. Trust me, when I first started eating mindfully and intuitively I wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday (this was a food that I did not allow myself to eat when I was anorexic). After 2 straight months of eating pb & j everyday, I lost this persistent craving for it and now only have it every few weeks when my body craves it. While it did take a while for this once forbidden food to lose its power, it eventually happened. This has been the case for countless other, once off-limit foods (candy, white bread, butter, pasta, cheese, etc.). Okay...maybe I still eat candy daily...but I'm still alive and haven't spontaneously combusted yet.
2. "My body will never, ever crave fruit, vegetables, and other nutritious foods"
While it may take a while for your body to desire a wide variety of foods, trust me, it will happen. The first and most important principle of intuitive eating is learning to recognize hunger and fullness and follow those bodily cues. Once this is achieved the nutrition aspect of intuitive eating is added to the mix. When I first started eating intuitively I only wanted carbs and sweets. But gradually, over a long period of time, once I had given myself full permission to have whatever I wanted, a started to crave new foods that I had never previously desired. I noticed that after a few days of eating solely carbs, my body started to crave salads and smoothies all the time. I went an entire day of just eating fruit! Not because I thought I should but because my body craved those nutrients and my hunger called for fruit. Our bodies have their own internal food period and will crave a variety of food once we allow ourselves permission to eat anything and the line between "good" and "bad" food fades away. While I do not eat every food group on a daily basis, if you were to observe my eating patterns over a week, month, or year, you will see that my body naturally craves all sorts of foods (carbs, fruits, veggies, meat, dairy, sweets, fats, etc.). It now makes sense to me why when I first started eating intuitively I solely longed for carbs. At the time I was not feeding myself enough, so my body craved high-energy foods such as sweets and carbs. I notice this happening even now. When my energy is low and I am very hungry, I don't crave vegetables, but instead, high-calorie foods. Is this whole intuitive eating thing starting to make sense yet??
3. "I can't be at a healthy weight. My butt is big and round, my thighs have dimples, and my tummy sticks out."
Weight and size DO NOT indicate health! When I weighed 110 pounds and was anorexic I went on a mountaineering trip in Colorado. I was unable to keep up with the group because I was too week and under-nourished. I had to leave the month long excursion on Day Two and go to the hospital. About three years later, now at a healthy weight for my body, I am able to hike while talking with my friends, go rock climbing and lift my body weight over a ledge, and have the energy to explore and play all day long. I am active and healthy but by BMI standards I was healthier when I was anorexic and nearing death. Yes, I have a belly but what is wrong with that? It tags along when I go outside and play, it provides a cushion when I lie on my stomach, it is soft and sensual.
We are constantly bombarded with messages that we must be stick thin with no fat at all to be healthy. If this is true why do many people at a "normal" weight have poorer health than those considered "overweight" who are active? There are countless measures that affect and tie into our health and having some body fat is not the all-determining factor. Just take a trip here:http://www.haescommunity.org/ .
Our obsession with being skinny stems from society. We are told that we will be happy once we are thin, our lives will finally begin, and all will be perfect. Trust me, I've been there and it's bullshit. We achieve happiness through living and embracing our lives, through loving and accepting ourselves and others as we are, and through staying present to the moment rather than waiting for our lives to one day begin. That there is the secret to life, my friends.
I'm ready to go out and start exploring Dublin once more so it's time to wrap up!
I really hope that my ramblings and thoughts give you something because the joy and freedom of intuitive eating is life changing for those who suffer from a restrictive menu and lifestyle. And all of these messages can be applied to every aspect of life beyond eating. Great happiness comes from fulfilling our longings and desires.
My last message to you is that if you keep bumping heads with someone who is not ready to be open to the possibilities of intuitive eating and you just seem to not be getting through to them, just let it be. While you can try to compassionately present this approach as an option, you cannot force anyone into it. Some people may just not be ready yet and some people will never be ready. It is sad, but it is the truth. You can solely be there when others turn to you and share your internal wisdom with the world. In the meantime focus that energy on yourself and the care you require! <3