Intuitive Eating

A Post Not About Writing At All

I had a lot of success with the Slimming World fat-free diet, which I stayed on for at least four years, losing three stone and keeping that weight off for two years afterwards. But when things got emotionally overwhelming in the later part of 2015 and not even therapy and meditation could completely keep me on an even keel, I began bingeing again to cope.

I rapidly put back on about a stone and a half. Initially, I thought “never mind. I’ll just go back on the diet and take it off again,” but when I tried, I discovered – like a friend I had met at the Slimming World meetings – that it was a hell of a lot more difficult to make the diet work and to stick to it the second time.

Cue despair, because if you can put on a stone and a half over Christmas and the first two months of the year, where does it stop? I’ve feared all my life that if I ate ‘normally’ – if I ate what I wanted to, when I wanted to, I would just keep piling the weight on and on and on until I couldn’t walk for it.

But Slimming World had been my last hope as far as diets went. I’d tried counting calories, and that worked until I couldn’t bear it any longer and gave up, telling myself that if there was any way I could economically afford it I would never be that hungry again. Slimming World was good because it didn’t require you to be hungry, but God, the food got boring after four years. I’d tried low carb/Atkins but that’s no way for a vegetarian to live – our sources of protein are too limited, and meat is horrible.

So the only option seemed to be to learn to love being fat. I signed up for some fat positive blogs, read a lot of articles about how dieting didn’t work and replaced my size 12 wardrobe with enough size 16 things to be going on with until I inevitably progressed to 18 and then 20 and then upwards.

However, one of the ‘diets don’t work’ articles I read suggested Intuitive Eating as an alternative. Eat whatever you wanted and find a set point of weight around which you would naturally come to settle and normalize.

That sounded like the epitome of “That sounds fake, but…” Except for the fact that I am married to someone who’s never dieted in his life, never done more exercise than a bit of morris dancing twice a week (same as me), and yet whose weight never really fluctuated at all. He certainly wasn’t clinging onto it in desperation for fear that he’d end up physically incapacitated, the way I was. So clearly there is such a thing as an intuitive eater. It works for some people. I decided I would give it a go and see if it would work for me. There was, after all, nowhere else left to turn.

I bought the book and started trying to follow it some time around the beginning of February. I thought there would be rules, but basically the rule is “Eat when you’re hungry. Eat as much as it takes to make you full. Then stop.” You can eat whatever you want, just pay attention to what it is that you actually want, because it might be different from what you assume.

I feel that the meditation I had been on since October last year definitely helped in this, because I was used to concentrating on different parts of my body, paying attention to what was actually going on, and not just living on autopilot. So once I started paying attention to my food in a mindful sort of way several dramatic things happened very early on into my practice.

  1. I realized I didn’t actually want chocolate as much as I thought I did. Most of the time what I really craved was bread. I’ve been eating a lot of toast and butter – that being one of the things I absolutely could not have on the SW diet.
  2. In the past month I’ve had three occasions where I would probably have binged if I wasn’t paying attention. I started, and then I caught myself and asked ‘do I really want these biscuits?’ And the answer on two occasions was ‘no, really what I want is rest. I’m knackered.’ On the third occasion it was ‘no. I’m just upset and don’t want to think about it.’ So I rested/meditated instead.
  3. I’ve tasted and enjoyed my food more than at any other time in my life. It’s hard to pay attention – I generally eat and read, and I’ve had to give that up so I can actually experience what’s going on in my mouth and stomach – but it’s really been worth it. I’d no idea that food was this good.
  4. I am loving the fact that I can go out and eat anything without wondering how much fat or how many grams of carbs or how many calories are in it. I tried pho. It was fab!

By the end of this first month, although I haven’t weighed myself, my clothes are no tighter than they were. So I’m cautiously optimistic about this. I’m going to reserve final judgement until the end of the year, but yes. Thumbs up for month one!

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Sandra Lindsey
8 years ago

Yay for you!

I try to do this myself, though I tend to scupper it with poor choices for eating at breaks at day-job. Am very glad to hear that when done properly, it works! (Gives me hope for the future, when I hope to be less regulated in when I can eat)

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