**written January 5th, 2017**
When I first transitioned from a life in “recovery” to a lifestyle focused on health and fitness, I was dead set on eating one way and one way only; by counting macros.
I’m sure most of you reading this are familiar with macro counting, but I feel I should address what it meant to me. Counting macros meant setting a range for each macronutrient (carbs, fats, and protein) that I would strive to attain each day. I remember tossing and turning in bed at night trying to create the next day’s entire line up of meals and snacks. At first it was exciting. It was like a puzzle or a game, trying to get the pieces to fit together. I felt accomplished at the end of the night, adding up the grams in my head and realizing how perfectly I’d done.
But the adrenaline rush was short-lived. I soon found myself coming across new foods and snacks at the grocery store, so eager to try them but after exhausting my brain trying to fit them into the puzzle, threw my hands up in a defeated gesture and moved on. I remember my stomach grumbling when it wasn’t “supposed to”, when I hadn’t “planned” on being hungry at that time in the day. How badly I wanted to open the pantry and grab the crackers I was craving, but couldn’t bring myself to throw the pieces of the puzzle away.
Don’t get me wrong. Counting macros was personally a good transition for me into normalized eating because it allowed me to ensure I was eating ENOUGH. However, it soon became an obsession and a barricade. I couldn’t go out to the store and pick up something that looked good right NOW, because I hadn’t fit it into my macros. I couldn’t reach for seconds at the dinner table because I had planned a bigger snack for later and didn’t feel like moving all of the pieces around for the tenth time that day.
Spontaneity wasn’t an option. I was fed up with being controlled yet AGAIN. I thought I had left that lifestyle behind. My anger boiled, spilling over the edge. I needed change. I needed freedom.
Cue intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is a broad term. It’s defined differently for everyone. I’m currently about 5 months into this lifestyle. It has truly opened up my life and freed my mind, body, and soul. To me, intuitive eating is TALKING TO YOUR BODY. I wake up in the morning, ask myself “What sounds good for breakfast?” and whatever I think of first is what I’m craving. Then I make that thing, because that’s why my body wants and why should I deprive it?
I finish my breakfast, and get on with my day. At some point in the mid-morning, I may get hungry again. I walk into the kitchen and poke around, thinking about what sounds good. I grab a snack, chow down, and return back to whatever I was doing. I’ll eat lunch again when my stomach grumbles. It’s not the same time everyday. I don’t have a morning snack everyday. I LISTEN TO MY BODY.
I’m cooking lunch, and throw a dollop of hummus on top of my bowl. As I’m putting it away, I grab an extra spoonful and eat it. Totally unplanned, not tracked, but it LOOKS so good and I really like this hummus, so I’m going to enjoy more than a “suggested serving”. Why? Because I eat to enjoy myself just as much as I eat to fuel myself.
I make last minute plans to hit the mall with my friends. I ate lunch a few hours ago, and won’t be home to cook dinner at the time I thought I’d begin cooking. What do I do? Open up my bar stash, shuffle through, and pick a snack that sounds good and will hold me over until I can make a late dinner. I don’t always have a snack between lunch and dinner. If life gets in the way, then I have to accommodate that. And that’s FINE.
I ALWAYS have a night snack. After dinner, I’m usually never hungry. I could easily go to bed without eating another thing. But I have a night snack purely for the JOY of it. I love lounging on the couch, throwing up my feet as 30 Rock plays on my laptop. I’m so comfortable, so at peace, and the only thing that could improve the situation is something delicious rocking my taste buds. For that reason, I always have a snack. For pleasure. Because my body may not be hungry, but my mind is. And that’s just as important.
You see, I never eat the same foods every day. I never eat the same amount every day. I always talk with my body. I strive to be my body’s friend. Lately, I’ve been consciously trying to incorporate more “superfoods”, more plant based protein powders, more supplements, etc. However, I don’t put labels on my food. I eat foods that aren’t always “organic” or “sprouted”. I picked up those Skippy peanut butter balls for a snack the other day, and placed them in my cart next to my loaf of sprouted grain bread. Both items SOUNDED good to me, so I’ll eat both.
Intuitive eating has allowed me to go with the flow, to honor my cravings. To finish my night snack and suddenly remember that I bought these really good-looking dark cacao truffles the other day, and they sound really good right now, so I’ll go into the kitchen and have one or two just because.
The human body is the most incredible machine. Every time I simply think about the millions of interactions and processes taking place inside of me, I’m in awe. And the fact that this machine wants to talk to ME? I’m honored. I want to listen. So I do.
Intuitive eating takes practice. It takes time to get used to being spontaneous, to not living the exact same way as the day before. Patience is a virtue. Dedicate yourself to your freedom. You won’t regret it.
Sending love, as always! Xoxo