I need to tell you a secret about Intuitive Eating
Sooo... I haven't really told anyone this, but that's the fun of having a website and a blog, isn't it?! I can share all the freaking content my heart desires.
First; let's go back to a couple of years ago when my anorexia was at its worst.
I was in and out of treatment centers, had countless of therapy sessions and even had a hospital admission in order to make my extreme low weight go up. It all worked for a brief period, but once I got released from the centers or stopped with therapy I was back at square one. Letting go of my eating disorders felt to much of a threat and honestly; I was't ready.
Understandably I couldn't follow intuitive eating back then, because my hunger signals were so messed up and all over the place. I usually kept my calories as low as possible so I could "save my calories" for the nights that I was alone, sitting on my couch, watching TV and I could stuff my face without being judged for it. (FYI: now I know nobody would judge me for that, but back then I firmly believed this)
A LOT of people with eating disorders I personally know have the tendency to do this. I could go into depth of WHY I think that is, but that's worth a whole other post. (migration theory)
When I was in the eating disorder clinics, I could bring my own gluten free bread and snacks and I was on a strict meal plan. We all ate together as a group and even though some meal plans were a little different, the comfort of seeing everyone eat felt extremely helpful. I also needed to maintain that meal plan, even when my eating disorder didn't want me too.
Back home, I fooled myself of being an "intuitive eater" and the self destructive cycle repeated itself: keeping calories as low as possible during the day, maintaining a VERY structured auto-immune (for my lyme) meal plan of containing mainly veggies, poultry, eggs and bone broth: no sugar,etc etc. Only at night I let myself eat home-made sweet potato and plantain fries with copious amount of nut butter, rice cakes with nut butter (my body was desperate for fats and carbs) and gluten free cookies and chocolate.
This resulted in me bingeing, feeling out of control and the feeling of guilt was out of this world. I promised myself every single week that on monday I would just eat whatever I wanted, so I wouldn't have to go to bed with a food baby every night.
Of course, I never kept this promise, because this was the whole problem with my eating disorder. It just needed some form of control and eating this way felt safe and changing it up would terrify me. Many people without knowledge of eating disorders think it's all about weight and appearance or that people, in my case who have anorexia, don't eat at all. I DID eat. But damn, my mind was all sorts of messed up about what, when and how I should eat.
Eating disorders are about control. It's not only about the food. It's not only about our bodies. It's about the feeling that having control over the food we put in our mouth that makes us feel comforted and safe. It also gives this intense feeling of relief and almost a high. An eating disorder voice could sound like: "Thank god. We made it through another day of restricting and you managed to exercise loads and eat at specific times. Good job. We're safe."
This control, or rather loss of control, because the eating disorder has all the control, can turn into extremely dangerous cooping mechanism like compensation through exercise addiction, purging, restriction, laxative abuse, binge & purge cycles. But it's also in the "small" controlling behaviours. (I'm using quotation marks, because for us eating disordered people this is HUGE) like only being able to eat at specific times, with specific or tiny utensils, drinking out of a certain cup, need to get exercise in before eating, etc etc..... Food needs to be perfect, because your primal brain knows food is scarce so this could be your last supper.
Speaking from personal experience; yes, it all started out with "just" wanting to lose a bit of weight when I was 16. But once I had a perfect setpoint weight for my body, I STILL needed the control over my body and it was never about the weight anymore. Ofcourse I didn't like my emaciated body when I looked in the mirror, but once I was in that deep black hole of fake control anorexia led me believe was my only way to survive, I couldn't get out.
You don't need to have had a traumatic childhood in order to get a messed up relationship with food either. You are or you aren't pre-disposed to an eating disorder. I was pre-disposed to anorexia, so the probability of me getting ill was very likely.
Now here's the secret I wanted to tell you........Drumroll.....
I STILL MESS UP. At least, diet culture would consider this "messing up".
I'm still in the rewiring my inner fat phobia, but some days just plain suck.
One of these days I'll write an article on "HOW I GOT WEIGHT RESTORED WITHOUT ANY HELP".
To make a long story short: I consider myself a very intuitive eater right now and I still eat in a messy way on a weekly/monthly basis. Too quick, weird times, etc.
Eating intuitively is a practice, which means you will make what you consider "mistakes". You might "under eat" or "over eat" some days. But honestly, this is quite normal as well. It's your body's way to balance things out.
(I just need to add that if you are coming from a very restrictive eating past, you 'll actually benefit from following a meal plan for a while and eating every 2-3 hours to get those hunger signals back and to speed up your metabolism. I would be happy to help you.)
Here's my final secret: even though I properly nourish my body with everything I crave during the day and I'm well fed once it turns into the late evenings.....I HAVE THE TENDENCY TO STILL STUFF MY FACE. Yes I do.
Usually it comes down to having made it through another high pain day (lyme related. Giving myself a high-five here), being extremely exhausted, frustrated with my pain, (or tipsy. Drunk munchies anyone?) watching some binge worthy tv, wanting somethings to nibble on and then it results in the fact that I just can't make myself stop eating alllllll the snacks. This makes total sense though. My body has been through a famine and is still rewiring and re-learning that we're not in a famine anymore. My brain now just needs to catch up with my body and vice versa. The thing is: I actually don't care that much. I have all the faith in my body that things will balance out in the end. Our bodies are smart, peeps.
The great thing about rewiring our brain is that IT WORKS. I'm proof of that it works.
Nowadays when I wake up in the mornings; I don't feel any guilt after having eaten my whole pantry. I just have an intense food baby, but I continue doing the next best thing: having a coffee to get my digestive tract moving and having breakfast. That's it.
I can't help but love a good night snack. It gives me pleasure and that's it. It doesn't have any repercussions anymore and that's the most liberating thing EVER.
Did you have any experience with this? Please comment down below.