Let me tell you a story that happened just a few days ago.
Friday was my last day at my old office. I went in early as I usually do – I can get more done with no one to distract me. Unfortunately, not being used to working (hello 4 1/2 months of not working at the office) was disorganized and neglected to eat anything for breakfast and forgot to pack any food for a snack. When the time approached the opening of the local drugstore, I head there to grab a protein bar.
As I was walking through the building, I walked past the coffee shop and it was open. After a split second decision, I decided instead to grab my usual from the coffee shop.
And here’s the thing… I didn’t WANT a latte and pastry. I did it because it was my last day there so it was my last opportunity for a treat.
And guess what? I felt like shit.
I’m not talking about feeling guilty for eating it. I literally felt like shit. I was so bloated and nauseous.
So here’s the thing about intuitive eating… just because you WANT something doesn’t mean you HAVE to eat it. And in this instance, I didn’t even want it – I had it because it was my last opportunity to have it.
But was it really?
Of course not! There’s a Second Cup just down the street – if I really want a chai latte with almond milk, I can easily get one. If I had thought about it, I would have remembered that previously, when I had a latte and treat from that coffee shop, I always felt bloated and gross after.
And that’s an important thing to know when you start on the path of intuitive eating; just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. It’s about really listening to your body and feeding it how it feels good because, let’s face it, who enjoys feeling like shit?
It will take trial and error – and probably a lot of error – to get it “right”. And your intuitive eating will be unique for YOU…
YOUnique… I think I just coined a new term!
It’s hard when you’ve been under diet culture’s thumb for so long! And, for me, anyhow, when I started intuitive eating, I was like “I’m going to eat this because I can!“. Nothing was blacklisted. And it got me in trouble health wise. But that’s okay! I’m a firm believer in learning from mistakes…. especially when they’re other people’s mistakes! So I hope you can learn from my mine.
So what have I learned? My biggest learning moment was that eating from desire will get you into trouble. Desire is cravings. Desire is a want, not a need. I have learned not to give into those desire moments because, for me, they make me spiral. And if it gets to the point where I really REALLY want something, I make sure I get EXACTLY what I want and not something that will “make do”.
Intuitive eating isn’t about giving into your cravings – it’s not a “get out of jail free” card because you still have to take responsibility for your health and wellbeing – and diet has a direct link to how you feel and the health of your body and mind. For instance, this afternoon I went into the kitchen for some water and looked at the bananas and decided I needed one. This is likely because I went for a 10k bike ride that morning and potassium helps with fluid balancing. Getting muscle cramps? Could be low in potassium.
So if you are constantly having cravings for sweet or salty or sour or chocolate, then maybe you’re actually deficient in something your body needs and you should do some research. Everything about your body is a roadmap to wellness if you take the time to learn and listen. Eventually you need to stop believing the health industry who only cares about your money, and start believing that you can make better choices for your body.