The following are things I have learned about food as I have walked this Intuitive Eating journey.
1. I really don’t like Poptarts, or brownies, or celery sticks, or watermelon, or chicken nuggets, or a host of other things I thought I liked. I had forbidden brownies and Poptarts and chicken nuggets so when I bought them, I binged. But now with giving myself unconditional permission to eat all the brownies, Poptarts, and chicken nuggets that I want, I discovered, I really hate them. In the same vein, I discovered I don’t like celery sticks or watermelon, or walnuts—things I convinced myself I liked when I was restricting.
2. Food has lost some magic. When I was restricting and bingeing, food had a divinity attached to it because I always binged on the forbidden foods in secret, and they were all mine. When I finally would allow myself a tiny bit of chocolate or sugar, it seemed like it tasted magical. But now, all foods—fruits, veggies, candies, baked goods, etc.)—have a similar meaning to me, which means some of the forbidden foods have lost their magic. I used to spend hours and even days planning and preparing meals to make sure they used the exact right ingredients, price, and nutrition. Now I find other things to fill those hours and food simply takes up as much time as it takes to make and eat it, nothing more. Sometimes I whimsically think of the time when food was such a special treat for me (especially the forbidden ones) because I now have to find other things in my life that bring that same magic or joy. But most times, I am so grateful that food has lost its supreme hold over me.
3. My body does not respond well to large quantities of sugar or processed food. I have found that my body is not happy (yep, I’m talking gas and other bodily movements) when I eat large quantities or processed foods in a short period of time. My body prefers if I spread those foods out across several days or a couple times a week. So, even though I used to follow this rule as a restriction on treats, I now follow it because that’s what my body wants, a huge difference.
4. I actually enjoy going to restaurants now. Before Intuitive Eating, restaurants used to be one of the most fearful places for me, because I always felt such pressure from myself and from those I ate with to choose only entrées that were nutritious. I would always eat daintily at the table, and take at least half my entrée home with me. But, then when I got home, I would binge on the rest of my entrée and other foods because I felt so deprived at the restaurant. Other times, I would binge at the restaurant and feel so sick when leaving, that I would bash every part of my body and willpower. However, with Intuitive Eating, restaurants do not need to be feared or lead automatically to binges. I now LOVE going to restaurants because the entire menu is open to me. I usually still bring food home, but I feel no need to binge on it because I did not deprive myself at the restaurant. Instead, I look forward to the opportunity to eat my entrée later and enjoy it all over again.
5. I like eating less of each food and more varieties of food at each meal (ex. half sandwich, chips, and fruit instead of simply a whole sandwich). This one really surprised me. My food palate likes variety at each meal rather than a lot of just one main entrée. And because of that, I love providing veggies and fruits to accompany the main dish at each meal. I get a taste of everything at each meal and feel so satisfied. It also helps financially because each meal goes further.
These are some of the things I have learned so far and I am sure to add more as I continue. What about you—what kinds of things have your learned/surprised you while on your journey?