On Intuitive Eating


The following post came from an entry in my personal journal dated April 3, 2009, the day after I gave up dieting.

I’m beginning an adventure—Intuitive Eating. For the next year, I plan to eat when I’m hungry, whatever I want, and stop when I’m full.

I heard about this no-dieting approach to eating back in the 80s I think, but didn’t give it too much attention. Sure wish I had. But my interest was piqued a couple of weeks ago when my daughter told me about a book by Geneen Roth, so I looked her up online and got one of her books. Her experience was so much like mine. When I read her conclusions, a light went on! Because diets have failed me, I’m ready to pay attention to my body’s hunger signals. Just hope they aren’t totally inoperative. I’ve eaten according to external cues for so long that I hardly know what my own hunger pangs feel like.

The things that make sense to me and give me hope are that (1) Intuitive Eating capitalizes on the body’s own mechanisms, which God created, for telling us when we’re hungry and when we’ve had enough and even for choosing which foods to eat, and (2) I won’t be relying on anyone else to tell me when and what to eat.

For years now, I’ve followed diet plans that told me what to do. At this moment I’m sure that these well-meaning authors—some of them doctors and dieticians—didn’t realize they were messing with nature’s ideal eating system. Someone said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Why didn’t I see that? Over the years as I followed the crowd, however, I lost confidence in my own innate ability to choose how to nourish my body. After all, nutrition was not my field, so I relied on experts to give me the scoop on the latest advances. At various times I majored on low-fat foods, then high protein, then low-carb diets, then synthetic nutrition bars.

The thing was, I always lost weight when I stuck to a plan. At least two or three times I lost over 40 pounds and gained it back. At other times, I lost from 10 to 30 pounds and gained it back. For nearly all of my adult life, I have been dieting—eating what someone else tells me to—and it’s not a fun way to live. In fact, diets rob us of one of the delights of life—the Joy of Choosing! Although I value my autonomy, I never realized I was giving it away, giving up what every kid dreams about doing when they grow up. How could I be any more gullible? I didn’t know how strong I felt about it until this week.

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jana
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 14:46:01

    Great Post, Aunt Norma! This reminds me of one of the quotes I have on the front of the binder in my kitchen that holds my favorite recipes: “Until we recover eating as one of life’s great pleasures, it simply is not going to turn out well” – Ellen Satter. and I love your idea of not relying on anyone else to tell you what to eat.

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