Evolution of Intuitive Eating
I spent almost 10 years of my life living on and off diets, fearful of food yet obsessed with it, constantly calculating what I thought I should eat instead of listening to my body and spending way too much of my precious brain power trying to figure out how to eat. I've shared with you how I recovered (part 1 and part 2). It started with a day and a thought that "I literally cannot do this anymore" and a realization that it was just no longer worth it. From there I immersed myself in the science of why diets don't work (the nerd in me cannot help but research it) and then I went through the steps to heal my relationship with food.
If you are going through this, I want you to know, it didn't happen overnight. It's been almost three years since I "snapped out of it" and for at least the first year and a half I would go through periods of time where I still wanted to calculate calories, record daily eating habits and prescribe myself macronutrient ranges. It was a slow progression. Maybe a day on, a day off. Then I was able to go a week without the diet thoughts or need for calorie counting. And then months. And now it has been well over year since even the desire or thought to 'diet'. It's about progress, not perfection. If you are going down this road please remember that everyday. The bad body image days are the days its the easiest to give in. You think to yourself, "I hate my body so why am I allowing myself to eat? I should go on another diet. This time only 1,000 calories. Yes that will work and then I will finally get this weight off." Those kind of days are when it's so vital to have a support system. My sister was mine through those years. We would email, call and text constantly as support for each other.
After going through the steps and just simply giving my mind the time it needed to heal, I was then able to work on healing my health. I firmly believe for myself and for my clients the relationship with food must heal before focusing on your health. The state of your mental health plays a powerful role in your body's ability to heal. You cannot heal your health with food and exercise if your mentality is in the wrong place. Otherwise, eating specific ways to heal your health can become another form of dieting, a way of controlling food.
About a year ago, I knew I was finally ready. I completely stopped questioning my food choices, had deep love and compassion for myself and simply laughed when the thought crossed my mind to manipulate food for perceived beliefs of what I felt I should look like.
I was finally ready to heal my health through food.
I had a sneaky suspicion that some of the foods I was eating were causing my digestive issues and other health issues. I believe that our body is so connected and many health issues you wouldn't think of as related- like allergies, skin issues and digestive pain are all indeed related. I am very fortunate that my issues are not debilitating, but I knew the IBS, allergies, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, adult acne, keratosis polaris (bumps on the skin) AND post-pill ammorhea I was experiencing were signs that something in my body was off. Something wasn't right.
I chose to start experimenting with my diet again to see if I could improve these things. You can read this post to find out more about what specifically I did to improve my digestion through food choices (please note though that this specific condition and a way of eating would not be necessary for the large majority of people). As soon as I made those changes my digestion immediately improved. The abdominal pain and bloating I had for almost an entire year almost immediately went away. Minimizing gluten in my diet made my psoriasis immediately start to improve. Including more bioavailable vitamin A in my diet (through these liver capsules) made the bumps on my skin almost immediately disappear. When I started finally listening to my body and all the FAT I was craving, I soon got my period back (coupled with a three month long acupuncture regimen, more on this coming in a post later this month).
In addition to wanting to improve my health, I have become more and more passionate about knowing exactly what I am putting in my body. Not only does this impact our health, but the health of our environment.
Honestly, I don't think I would have been able to improve my health had I not first fixed my relationship with food. I had to first stop dieting and start living again and then from there I was able to start to use food as my medicine. Intuitive eating has changed for me over the years. My eating habits these days are different than they were a year ago and definitely different than they were two or three years ago. It's okay if intuitive eating changes overtime.
I encourage you to heal your relationship with food, first. Love yourself, have deep compassion and so, so much self love for your body and the foods you put in your body, no matter their health benefits (or lack there of). And once you do that, find foods that make you feel amazing. That improve your health. That make your skin shine, improve digestion and give you energy rather than taking it from you. Decide what food convictions you have and eat in a way that supports that. And above all, find what works for you.