Good Morning friends, happy Wednesday! I was listening to a great podcast the other day (Nutrition Matters, discussing the gray of Intuitive Eating, if you’re interested), and it got me thinking about ideas for this post.
Intuitive Eating is not black and white. It doesn’t really have boundaries and intuitive eating can be messy.
Intuitive Eating is not a diet
The concept of Intuitive Eating is gaining ground and becoming more and more popular and accepted. Sure, there are principles that suggest and try to define what IE is.
But these principles are guiding principles, not “rules” or dictations. I don’t want people to get the idea that intuitive eating is another form of rules or dieting, but we know diets don’t work.
While I think it may be misconstrued as a “diet” by some, it is everything but that. It is so OPPOSITE of dieting.
Furthermore, I think it’s important to state that intuitive eating can be and is messy. It’s not an easy process to transition to if you haven’t been eating this way.
Many people think intuitive eating is just about hunger and fullness, and while the intuitive eating hunger scale is an important tool, it’s not the only part of being an intuitive eater.
Also, there is a lot of gray area. Things aren’t black and white, mainly because you have a lot of flexibility.
Take this breakfast, for example. This was a bacon, egg and cheese between two donuts that I wanted to try and split with Ed. I also had a greek yogurt (unpictured) for some more protein because I know I feel better if I get enough protein in the mornings – that’s the practical part of IE where you look out for yourself and your body.
Is it perfect? No, but it gets the job done. And this was a happy, pleasurable experience. We enjoyed it after a pre-natal appointment (donuts are our ritual).
Becoming an Intuitive Eater is not black and white
The strongest supporters of intuitive eating may argue that there is some black and whiteness involved. There is no one way to figure out how to become an intuitive eater.
Yet, I think when we get in the habit of thinking that way, or that there’s only “one way” to do it, we are creating rules and guidelines, which goes against all of the principles. There is never one way to do anything.
Intuitive eating doesn’t always mean ordering the ice cream, or cheeseburger. Sometimes, you may really want the salad, and you crave the nourishment that the fiber and vegetables will give you.
I, for example, craved some hearty veggies for lunch after this sugar-rich breakfast. This wasn’t a form of “punishment,” but more a form of my body regulating what it wanted.
I would hate for someone to think they aren’t practicing intuitive eating if they want a more nutrient-dense option, like a salad. That’s not going against IE principles. Because sometimes you do want lots of greens and fiber.
I’m being careful of labeling the salad as the “healthier” option, because that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s more like the Wellness Diet thinking or diet culture thinking.
Here’s more on the definition of diet culture.
Intuitive Eating is Not Striving for Perfection
Intuitive eating doesn’t mean you always need to eat dessert, either, or eat breakfast first thing in the morning. But if you do, it means being okay with it. It doesn’t mean that you always need to eat three meals and two snacks every day.
But, it does incorporate some practical thinking. If you feel better with two snacks, then you should take the extra time to plan for those snacks. Or buy one out if you forget your afternoon snack.
Or, if you know your next meal will be delayed, it means eating another meal prior even if you’re not super hungry (more on practical hunger here).
Afternoon snack: No bake vegan protein bites
Intuitive eating is the idea of looking out for your body and trying to be as in tune with it as you can. And I’ll just tell you right off the bat – you won’t always be perfect. No one is because it doesn’t exist.
You will overeat and feel your fullness sometimes.
You may have had a heavier dinner the night before, and you wake up less hungry than normal. Therefore, maybe you’re not eager to make breakfast at 7am as usual. That’s fine.
Remember, intuitive eating also takes practicality into consideration, meaning that you know you’ll be starving by lunch if you skip breakfast completely. Therefore, the middle ground here would probably be to eat something light for breakfast, maybe a little later than usual.
Self-care is knowing that you want to provide your body with some nourishment to prevent low blood sugar spikes and a ravenous appetite by lunch.
Intuitive eating is not always clear cut. In fact, most of the time, it’s not clear cut at all.
I may have meal prepped to have fajitas all week (like I talk about in my meal prep for athletes), but there may be one night where I just can’t think about eating another fajita, so we don’t.
We order takeout instead, or spontaneously meet some friends for dinner. Because having that flexibility (that “gray” area) is so so important in becoming an intuitive eater.
Living in the Gray with Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating means giving up the numbers, the want to control every single micro and macronutrient you eat. It means accepting the messiness.
Not every meal has to or will be planned perfectly. That sometimes cereal for dinner is acceptable, and not worth beating yourself up over.
Give yourself some grace and embrace the gray.
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!