Intuitive Eating – let’s try this again!

Intuitive Eating. Two (seemingly) simple words that pack a lot of punch. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what happiness means for me. I have an amazing husband, great friends and family, a job that pays well and at which I’m well respected and challenged; I have a beautiful home with a brand new kitchen; I have you guys – you inspire and motivate me, every day. I’m strong, I’m healthy; I have everything in the world going for me… but am I happy?

The answer is yes, mostly. For some reason food is the one thing I still haven’t “conquered” and that’s the one thing that occupies my thoughts and has a big impact on whether a specific day adds or detracts from my general happiness. It can be an amazing meal out (or in) that makes me beam… or it can be a night on the couch with my hand swiftly moving between the almonds bag and my mouth, which makes me want to cry but I can’t stop it! Food so often makes or breaks my day and I’d like to get rid of this notion. So I’m going to try something new. I’m going to try eating like my husband!

This may sounds weird but here is what I mean. Adam eats healthy most of the time. I give myself credit for a lot of this. Most dinners are planned and lunches are often leftovers. If there are no leftovers I often have a say as to what he packs with him anyway (today I made him a pepper, mushroom, chicken sausage and cheese wrap with 2 clementines – I know he’ll be really happy with that). Sometimes he gets a big salad at lunch. I haven’t seen it – I’m guessing there is more cheese, olives and “extra toppings” I would add to my salad but he gets some greens in as well and that’s good. Sometimes it’s buffalo chicken day in his cafeteria and he can’t resist it and gets that and fries. Sometimes he goes out with his buddies and gets something else with fries. He often makes healthy options but sometimes he doesn’t. And he’s okay with all of them. He doesn’t beat himself up for “screwing up his day.” His heart doesn’t race like crazy when he realizes he went over his calorie allowance. He just moves on. Sometimes he eats lighter at his next meal; sometimes he eats lighter the next day. He’s been eating like this for years and pretty much maintains his weight. Recently he started exercising and lost 10 lbs and is motivated to keep going at it.

Okay, so obviously I already work out quite a bit so I won’t be able to lose weight without a conscious effort. But maybe that’s okay. This food-related emotional roller coaster is something I would like to get rid of – for good! I think even if I achieve that and I’m a few pounds heavier, I’ll still be happier. Adam loves food as much as I do (although he’d rather have a bag of chips than a brownie) but he’s able to live life without food choices dictating his worth. He eats intuitively most of the time (that’s not to say he eats whatever he wants all the time – he still makes “better for him” choices often because he knows that’s important too). And on that note, I’m going try this intuitive eating bizz again. No more calorie counting*. Let’s see if I can start listening to what my body has to say, and respect it!

*I still strongly believe that calorie counting is a great tool to lose or maintain weight. It just seems to be the wrong strategy for me at this stage of my life.

Yesterday’s eats…

BREAKFAST

1/2 raisin bagel with Barney Butter + nonfat yogurt with mango + coffee

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Carbs + fat

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Dairy + fruit

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= complete (and delicious) breakfast 😀

LUNCH

Red curry with shrimp and brown rice

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This is leftovers from Sunday night’s dinner – I added extra broccoli and carrots to bulk it up. This was fabulous!!! (another restaurant review to come)

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MID-AFTERNOON SNACKS

(Self-assembled) trail mix – dried edamame, pretzel sticks, orange almonds, dried cherries

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An apple with 2 packets of somersaults

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+ 100 calorie dark chocolate bar

I was snacky! 😳

WORKOUT

Rack it Up class – I feel like a super woman in this class (my biceps are SICK 😉 ). In the spirit of no counting, I didn’t wear my heart rate monitor. I only look at the calories burnt and I know I wouldn’t have done anything differently in that class regardless of what that watch said. I always try to lift as much as I can.

I love starting the week on such a high note! :)

DINNER

I finally made Saturday’s planned dinner! On the menu:

– Ellie Krieger’s crab cakes with smarter tartar sauce (recipe here)

– Lemony roasted broccoli with pine nuts and parmesan (recipe here, found through RunToTheFinish)

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I love good quality crab cakes and these were delicious! I always use half lump crab (expensive!) and half claw meat (1/2 price of lump) and get great results. This was “meaty” – the fresh pepper added a nice crunch and color. Adam was pleasantly surprised at how much he loved these guys. I knew he would 😉

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The roasted broccoli was fabulous. I didn’t use as much oil as the recipe called for but this came out great. Adam thought a different cheese would be better than parm, but I disagree. I think he was thinking Velveeta but that kind of junk is not allowed in my household. Gross. Yummy broc – I’ll definitely be making it again!

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Ironically, due to my daily pickle consumption, we ran out of pickles to make the tartar sauce. I used a little caper juice to the mix and this added a nice “pickle flavor” to the sauce. It tasted nothing like tartar sauce but was still delicious. I’d recommend doubling it if you make this recipe. We liked a little sauce with every bite. :)

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Crab is definitely pricey so this was a special dinner. We really enjoyed it and I’m definitely looking forward to the leftovers. 😀

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After dinner I ate more while watching tv Yes, almonds were involved and I felt sick afterwards :( This was not a good beginning to my intuitive eating plan but this is not a race. I will get there. Please follow me in my journey! :mrgreen:

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36 comments to Intuitive Eating – let’s try this again!

  • Tiffany

    Normally I find myself to be an intuitive eater, and with a little maintenance in the gym I can keep myself within my normal range (I’m never lighter than 127 lbs and never heavier than 137 lbs-those pesky ten pounds!)

    Over the past two months I’ve sort of gotten away from myself, though, and was uncomfortably teetering on the heavier side of my range. My body immediately kicked into overdrive and I replaced one or two meals a day with a salad, made better choices when eating out, and really worked it at the gym/outside activities.

    I’m feeling better now. My body realized that the new routine wasn’t doing the old routine any favors, and just sort of self-regulated.

    So I think knowing your body’s limits (or even learning them as you go) will really make this an interesting process for you!

  • Jackie

    I’m in a similar situation to you – I’ve been constantly counting calories (not sure if you’ve been doing it constantly, actually lol) and trying to lose pesky lbs that I gained first semester of college. I lost weight successfully by counting calories, but now it’s no longer working. If I go over, I’m depressed..

    I’ve read about intuitive eating before, and while I don’t agree with everything, I do agree with honoring our body’s hunger/full signals more and if we’re really craving that Oreo, have an Oreo and move on. My problem is not realizing hunger, it’s realizing satiety/fullness. I’ve been looking for someone who understands what I’m going through, and I’m glad that there are others like me who struggle with this..

    I love food – a lot. I love cooking it – I love cooking for others and making them happy. I’m okay with the fact that I’m pretty addicted to food (not just eating, but researching, discovering, etc.). I’ve gone a week-long binge, basically, and I’m terrified to step on the scale this Sunday. The scale no longer holds me back, but I still like to see a pretty number.. 😉 However, I want to FEEL good – with my eating habits (as of now) I feel AWFUL.

    I know that I’ve never commented before – and I recently (2-3 weeks ago) started reading your blog, but I will gladly go on this intuitive eating journey with you.

    Jackie

  • Good for you! I think it is important to not obsess over food and just find a healthy balance!

  • I’ve been following WeightWatchers for over a year now. I started in February 2009 and I reached my goal, 80 pounds later, in December 2009. Since then I’ve been maintaining and I’m moving more toward the intuitive maintenance everyday. I pay attention to my hunger signals and I pair unhealthy foods with healthier foods either in the same day or the same meal. I still track what I eat though because I think it’s important to be able to look back and see what you had, good or bad. Otherwise, for me, it would be easy to just keep choosing bad and never going with the good. Good luck!

  • Good for you! Sometimes getting in the right mindset can be so difficult — everything is mental! Calorie counting always made me obsess, and it has taken me years to be ok eating whatever I want. I have started using the philosophy of adding good stuff in to my diet (greens and veggies!) rather than focusing on detracting. It has really helped, I feel healthy and happy. I hope your intuitive eating goes well. We’re here to support you!

  • Wonderful post. First, I’ll say I want those crabcakes! Now, intuitive eating is something I’ve been wanting to do and trying to do for years, but it does not work for me and I don’t know why. I think I have the same problem as Jackie above, I can’t tell when I’m full and intuitive eating just turns into binge eating. I end up feeling more depressed and disgusted with myself. I work hard to overcome this, but it’s very difficult. Maybe you’ll inspire me to try again :)

  • Elina

    Jackie – I counted calories for years, then my bingeing got worse and I attempted intuitive eating. It was hard at first (I didn’t really trust my body) but eventually it got easier. Actually, it didn’t even take me very long to get adjusted. It could be that running became a larger part of my life and evened out some treats, but somehow I ate what I wanted and it evened out. And I really started getting close to pure comfort in my own skin. Then the holidays hit and I lost track of reasonableness. There is eating what you want intuitively, and then there is stuffing your face to the point of no return. Very different. I gained weight, I went back to calorie counting, I started obsessing again and here we are :) I’ll talk more about my previous journey on the blog and hopefully this time I’m even more successful! Good luck with your journey – YOU CAN DO IT!

    Candice- I promise you that you will not continue choosing bad over good. As someone who has learned to appreciate clean foods, veggies, fruit, flavorful fresh produce – I promise you start craving it if you don’t get it. Have you ever been on vacation and eaten too much every day? You know that feeling when you just can’t wait to get back to “normal” eating? That’s what happens! Trust your body, it will tell you to eat a salad, I promise 😉

    Melissa – those crab cakes are fab! :GRIN: Now, intuitive eating – it takes time. I am not sure if you followed my blog when I tried this the first time. I was eating dessert with every meal at the beginning. Sometimes I tried ice cream for dinner because “that’s what I wanted” but then I still got hungry and ate “real dinner.” Eventually it got old and I felt gross, so I cleaned up my diet not because I was trying to restrict myself but because that’s what made my body feel better. I still ate dessert almost every day, because I can’t really live without it. Sometimes I ate something more indulgent and then would crave extra clean food for the next few days. I really hope this intuition comes back to me and I can inspire you to try it again! 😀

  • I was happy to see this post. I am trying to lose 10-15 pounds and have been counting calories. I am OK and gung ho about it for 3-4 weeks, then I don’t see the pounds drop and/or it makes me an insane person, so I stop. This week I haven’t been counting and I have been happy. It’s a better thing for me and my relationships to stop counting! I don’t want food to be difficult or a chore.

    The thing I am doing now is watching portions – only having a serving of something and still measuring my foods to avoid over-eating, but I am eating when I am hungry, eating a lot of f/v and trying to stop when I am halfway full.

    @Jackie – I am trying to work on the same thing – realizing satiety/fullness.

    I would love to join you on your journey Elina! Best of luck to everyone!

  • You can do it!!!

    Intuitive Eating takes so much time and is harder than counting calories… but once you get the hang of it… its so rewarding! And freeing too!

  • You can do this!! I’ve been on the intuitive eating track for about a year or maybe more. I used to be just like you, religiously counting calories, keeping a food journal, etc. but it drove me crazy after awhile. AND I would do what you do – beat myself up for “falling off the wagon” for eating a cookie or something. But now, dammit, if I want a cookie, I’m gonna eat one! I’ve found that giving in to those cravings vs. denying myself all the time made a huge difference. I didn’t feel so deprived and can make good, intuitive food choices most of the time, which is all that really matters right? Being “good” or “smart” about eating MOST of the time, not all the time. PS. Those crab cakes made my mouth water 😉 Hang in there!

  • I recently stopped calorie counting and it helped SO much. I haven’t put on any weight and I feel so much more relaxed about food!

  • D

    hello! ive been following your blog for a long time and i think your food choices are awesome. i totally get the overeating at times though, and the attempts to figure out exactly what will make everything “click” finally.

    i like this post, but i just want to point out that, while it’s true that a lot of men have more “intuitive” ways of eating than women, that doesn’t mean we need to emulate them. we have totally different responses (emotionally) to food, and so sometimes the behaviour is just not compatible. adam sounds like he’s really healthy, which is good, but my own boyfriend could skip meals, not eat all day, etc. i think my “relationship” with food is far too complex to try and emulate his, and ive learned to accept that. its just something to think about. it might really work for you, but you might also learn that you NEED structure, or whatever it might. i didnt quite get from your post if you mean to be more like him in the way he eats, or just in the way he *feels* about food. either way, you are your own person and you will figure out what is right for YOU!

  • So as for the evening almonds, I think evening munchies are so common- and for me it is not at all a hunger issue. It’s an issue of free time and snacking or having a glass of wine became and integral part of my “unwinding process.” (So my intuition isn’t that my body needs anything else, my brain just wants it for comfort.) When I’m maintaining, it’s not a big issue for me, but when I need to lose a couple lbs. or or make up for some earlier indulgences, I’ve found that replacing that comfort ritual with another one is really helpful. So my go to way of dealing with this is to have a big mug of tea instead of a snack. Or I take a long hot shower and exfoliate and do a face mask- something that’s relaxing but not food related. And when all else fails, get up and brush your teeth. Tell yourself that if you’re still hungry after you can taste normally again, then you can have a snack. That will often separate me from my craving. :)

  • *Andrea*

    great choice! letting go of numbers and rigid lifestyles is always difficult but you will be way happier in the end :)

  • Beth S.

    Great Post! I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I’ve read through from start to finish. I just want to say I completely understand your struggles. I lost quite a bit of weight after college eating intuitively and working out. Then when I decided to work on those last pesky pounds the calorie counting ensued and although it worked I feel like it completely changed my rationale on following my instincts. I hate that I will have days I view as good or bad, and now I’m at the crossroad of wanting to lose a few more pounds is it really worth the struggle? I will be following along your intuitive eating journey cheering you on, and hoping to learn a few things as well:)

  • I was so happy reading this post!!! I too look at my husband as an inspiration. Since he’s never had emotional issues with food, he’s able to eat healthy most of the time, indulge when he feels like it, and then just MOVE ON. To see him be able to enjoy food without FREAKING OUT about it is actually really inspiring!

    I think of it this way. As long as I’m treating my body well and am not totally unhealthy, do five pounds really make a huge difference? There’s so much more to life, and sometimes we miss out on it because we’re too busy obsessing about our food, you know?

    Just know that your readers are here to support you on your journey!!! :)

  • I have just recently started to try and do intuitive eating. Giving up the calorie counting is very hard, it is giving up some control that I am used to.
    I actually picked up the book Intuitive Eating and am hoping that gives me some more ideas and help to become an intuitive eater.
    I enjoy your blog! Keep up the good work!

  • Elina I wish you luck with your intuitive eating! Is it horrible to say that intuitive eating intimidates me? I’m scared I’d fall into portion distortion. But like you, I sometimes let the modd of my day be dictated by food choices. I’ve definitely gotten a lot better and I don’t know that I’ll ever fully let go; it’s part of who I am as someone who has been very overweight for most of my life. But I’m glad we can both find ways to improve every day!

  • I think this sounds like a really smart idea. It’s so good for you to evaluate your life and see what areas need improvement and to see what you can do to get there. Sometimes being at a lower weight wont’ make you happy, so weighing these things is really important. I love the idea of intuitive eating. Remember it’s a road and it takes time to get there!!

  • Elina

    You guys are the best! So many insightful comments – it’s so encouraging!!! 😀

    D – I think I was talking about my husband’s attitude towards food; not necessarily eating exactly like him. I know my body and I know what it needs. I plan snacks because I know I’ll get hungry if I don’t. He has a few things to learn from me as well 😉

    Brooke – I read that book – it’s good. Hope it provides you with the motivation that you need.

  • Good luck Elina. I know your struggles and your pain so I’m rooting for you!

  • Oh I love crabcakes, they are just the best and the broccoli looks awesome too!

    I counted calories in college and it made me obsessive about it. Now I just eat when I’m hungry and I also listen to my cravings. If I want chocolate, I treat myself to one brownie, but not the whole pan! I’m definitely in the everything in moderation camp :)

  • Jackie

    Elina – That’s so what happened to me! I even regained control over this last holiday season, was doing awesome, and all of sudden these last two weeks I have been out of control. My biggest problem is the full signal/not eating out of boredom. I know you’re going to do awesome – it’s a real inspiration to know I’m not alone in this struggle and there are others that I can draw hope from.

    Keep it up. :)

    P.S. I run too and I love it! I’m currently training for a full marathon after just finishing a half.. :)

  • We’ve already talked about this so you know I’m a fan. :-) I will say though that it’s an ongoing effort so the slipping up is all part of it.

  • sister inna

    wow. your commenters are all so thoughtful. i just got a jolt of motivation just seeing what everyone’s thoughts on this subject are. i’m definitely in the “obsessing about calories” camp, and need to learn to let go. next time i see you i need to borrow your intuitive eating book.
    kthanksbye 😉
    oh and yes those crabcakes are innnsaaaaneeee

  • Elina

    Jackie – yay for loving to run. I’m going to hit the treadmill soon. I’m hoping my love for running will come back! 😀

    Innz – I’m going to re-read the book too. I’m also going to try to highlight some things from it here. More IE talk to come 😉

  • oh man, you spoke my mind. i have been happy with so much in my life..but there just has been this one thing holding me back from gaining that full happiness. i’m right there with you and will support you always! you do it!

  • D

    okay that’s what i thought, that sounds like a good idea :)

    i would love to hear more of your thoughts on IE and just food in general. it’s awesome to read about a health blogger who does eats wonderful food, but also acknowledges that it’s not always as easy as some people make it out to be. even people who have it “under control” struggle every now and again. love your blog!!!

  • Yeah! Go Elina! I recently posted about this – I’m so scared to ‘trust myself’ and IE, and not count calories, yet when I actually do it (on the weekends, say), I’m often within a normal calorie range!

    IE is what you want – so why not just go for it? If it starts to freak you out a bit, you can always calorie count a day here and there.

  • I really TRY to be intuitive with my eating but it is sooo hard for me sometimes. Good for you for re-committing yourself! My BF is a lot like Adam it sounds like. He eats when he’s hungry, eats what he’s craving and NEVER over eats. I don’t really know how he does it but we’ll often talk about how I “live to eat” and he “eats to live”. I think about food ALL day and he just remembers to eat when he gets starving. I think we both can offer something to each other in the way that I make my meals an event and he just shoves food in on the run. I commend you on your effort and am actually trying that myself right now too. It’s so hard in a world where we are constantly reminded of food which somehow triggers my hunger!

  • Sarah

    Elina, I’m a little late to this comment chain, but I wish you luck on the intuitive eating journey. I can very much relate to your struggles and frustration.
    I wonder, do you see a difference in your eating when you don’t document your meals? It has occurred to me on several occasions that perhaps if I gave food less “weight” or significance in my day, perhaps it would be easier for me to eat based on my own hunger cues.
    This might not be a popular sentiment and I’m not suggesting foregoing one’s passion in food and eating, but playing devil’s advocate, I wonder if eating would become less stressful if it wasn’t the primary focus.

  • i keep thinking that i’ll have this “ah-ha” moment where it all clicks and i give up these disordered eating patterns i’ve happenned upon. but i keep waiting… hoping i can just turn it around myself? love alot of what you said here, maybe i’ll try to read it more often to remind myself 😉

  • Elina

    Sarah – you’re not late! :) To be honest, I think I have a food addiction so it’s kind of a main event whether I blog about it or not. I think I pretty much eat the same way. Some people are more restrictive when they photograph their food, but clearly that’s not the case here 😉

    Shannon – I am SO waiting for this “ah-ha” moment myself. Can we do coffee sometime? I want to swap notes. Maybe we can inspire each other. :)

  • Just catching up on blog reading today and this post really spoke to me. I feel like I’m always thinking about food and I def obsess over it a little too much. I love food and I love to eat but it seems I always associate food with guilt because I don’t know when to stop sometimes. I started researching intuitive eating a few months ago and I thought it was a really interesting concept but in the back of my mind I felt like my body would always be craving nachos, soda, mac n cheese etc… When I go off the deep end and over indulge (like I did last weekend) it amazes me how my body actually does crave water, fruit and veggies. I think once you experience that your body does crave healthy stuff it gives you more motivation and trust in the intuitive eating concept.

  • I’ve gained a few pounds in the past month…I blame that on my birthday (which involved a very delicious one-in-a-year cake) and my emotions involving work. I’m trying to whittle down about 10lbs and know that I have to start exercising but sometimes I find it hard to, so I really commend you for getting in your workouts. You definitely beat me in that category. I think slow and steady will definitely win the race. This time around, I’m giving myself plenty of time to lose the “last 10 pounds.” I’m not going to give myself a one month goal or something silly like that.

  • Ok, now I finally feel up to date! I know exactly what you mean about wanting to eat like your husband. I have always noticed the same qualities in Matthew and have drafted several posts about it bur have never been able to articulate what I am trying to say very well. You said it perfectly!
    Good luck with your IE journey, Elina! I support you 100% with whatever you decide. I know you can do this :)

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