What intuitive eating gets wrong.
How many times have you heard the phrase "oh, I just eat intuitively" or "oh, you should try intuitive eating - you just listen to your body and eat whatever you want"? Now tell me honestly, how many times have you tried to do this and then suddenly had this moment where you ate a dozen cookies or donuts and feel like shit because you REALLY wanted that donut? OR better yet, you listened to your "intuition" when it told you that you really craved those 12 almonds wrapped in spinach for dinner?
Here is where all of those intuitive eating and anti "diet" coaches get it wrong - they aren't there when you are sobbing and yet again angry or hating on yourself for intuitively eating the foods that make you feel like shit, because your brain told you you craved it. And this is where intuitive eating goes wrong - our bodies do not know how to eat anymore. We can't listen to our bodies intuition because it has been bombarded by fake food, processed garbage and is ADDICTED to sugar. No seriously, we're addicted to sugar. It actually has been proven to light up the same areas of your brain in the pleasure/reward centre as cocaine. Addicted.
Our food supply and the foods we eat have been genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides, processed in a factory, are loaded with sugar, and we are as a society chronically malnourished. Women have it worse - the media has programmed us to by into diet mentality and think we have to eat next to nothing in order to be thin. We associate thinness with beauty. AND we have been programmed to use over 12 products a day to further this "beauty" that have over 10,000+ chemicals that are not even regulated. Our hormones (which are largely what sends us the messages to tell us when to eat and what to eat aka our intuition source) are largely messed up and imbalanced.
So while intuitive eating has its merits - listening to your body and no more lack mentality, you never feel restricted or like you are having a major case of FOMO - it just doesn't take the science into account. It doesn't take into account that we have hormones like leptin and ghrelin that tell us when we are full and when we are hungry. When it comes down to it, these two hormones are really what are intuitive system should be (as well as a variety of other hormones that work harmoniously together). When it comes to food, our intuition isn't the feeling we get in our heart or our head or our hypothetical gut, but from a complex network of hormones and body systems working together to keep you functioning.
Now you may be wondering what set me off on this little bit of a rant, and I'll get to that - but let me tell you a story. It's about a girl sitting in her grade 6 classroom, picking at her lunch while her friends try to shove crackers in her mouth. The girl who wanted to just have her 6 almonds and an apple. Who was teeny tiny, but wanted to be thinner even still. Who wanted desperately to fit in to this new school, with new friends, who lived a way different lifestyle than she was used to. A girl who was insecure, and used food as a way to control her life - even if that meant controlling how little food entered her mouth.
Flash forward a few years, and her friends had convinced her that the only way to combat her anorexia (which stemmed from feeling out of place, major perfectionism and depressive tendencies), was to eat all the things. And so instead of starving herself when she was hungry, she learned a new way of pushing down the feelings : bingeing. So she would eat and eat and eat. She would come home from school and eat an entire box of Kraft Dinner to herself, made with only butter - and LOTS of it, and then wash it down with cookies and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with so much peanut butter, it overflowed out the sides as she bit into it.
But unlike the starving, she much preferred bingeing. She would feel better temporarily every time she ate a bowl of that cheesy goodness, or a chip, or a cookie, or hell the cookie dough. And these foods tasted SO good. But then she would feel sad again, and head back to the fridge. Over and over and over again.
And she would live in this cycle of diet - binge - diet - binge for years. Until she found intuitive eating. And the intuitive eating gurus of instagram. And she worshipped these women for years, before finally seeing that is was all a load of bullshit. And that girl was me.
It took years of studying health and wellness, experimenting with every diet, removing foods, etc to figure it out : there is no one size fits all approach to wellness and each of us just has to figure out what makes us feel the best. Isn't that what we all want : to feel radiant, to glow, to feel good in our skin, to have a shit ton of energy to do all the things we want? So why was I taking advice from some women on instagram who spent copious amounts of time sleeping (because they were endlessly tired) and eating cheese like it was water? Or women who preached about body positivity and no body shaming or food shaming, but shamed people who chose to eat cauliflower riced.
And that's where this all started - a post on instagram. One of these gurus, posted an image that said "use cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potato, rice, and any joy in your life. you have no friends now, there is only cauliflower". So me being me, I responded and said "I actually love cauliflower rice", because well I do. More than regular rice to be honest - AND it doesn't make me feel like my stomach is going to explode when I eat it. Her response was "delicious yes - rice no!". So here is this woman shaming or correcting me for what I want and like to eat, because what? She wants everyone in the world to think that eating riced cauliflower is dieting and a bad attitude towards eating? I don't know about you, but rice is only rice because someone decided to call it that.
Ever since I've found a way of eating that makes me feel good, I've started to become more and more irritated with the people who push agendas and certain ways of eating on other people. As a holistic nutrition student, the one thing I know for sure is this: there is no one size fits all approach to nutrition and one way of eating may serve you at one phase of your life, while another will serve you in another phase. We have to break free of the dogma and get down to the root : our body is intuitive. It has the capacity to heal itself and function optimally, when given the appropriate tools.
I've become even more aware of this, and confident in this as I've embarked on the January Whole30. I have next to zero cravings, sleep like its my job, have more energy, glowing skin, no bloating and literally do not feel restricted or like I am dieting AT ALL. I'm getting a better understanding of how my body works, and what it needs to be nourished and functioning optimally. And it shows - people are asking me questions about this thing. This beautiful reset that I am using to find out what has been causing me all of my unwanted health symptoms. And I have been intuitively eating - I eat when I'm hungry. I can recognize when all I really want is comfort or a rest, instead of reaching for the cookies.
And I will no longer stand by and keep my mouth shut. I'm going to be bringing the science into my posts. Breaking down the myths and the bullshit, and sharing with you INFORMATION. Do with it what you will. It's time we start listening to our intuitions about who we want to listen to and what information we want to take in as true, instead of trusting the thousands of followers someone has on instagram, okay?
PS - both of those photos are me. The first, when I was 13 and not at my skinniest and the second, at 17 at the heaviest and biggest I have ever been. And now? Well I'm somewhere in between: