I have been on this body love, intuitive eating journey for about 15 years. What’s most surprising? Everyday I’m still learning. I’m constantly finding myself in new ‘aha!’ moments as I weave my way through this life of mine. My patients, my family and my friends are always opening up my eyes to new situations, and new solutions.
This week, I’d like to share one of my ‘aha!’ moments from a yoga retreat I participated in this past summer. During the retreat, we were served amazing food. They had hired an incredible vegan nutritionist who created such lovely meals; they were beautiful, delicious, supple, colourful, and they were flavourful. I would definitely call it ‘clean’ food. On the first morning we were served a beautiful breakfast; beautiful, yes…filling, not so much!
By mid-morning all of the women started talking about food. We were trying to focus on our yoga, our meditations, or on balancing on our stand up paddle boards, and yet the conversation kept coming back to food. I thought that it was incredible that we had this wide array of women who do amazing things with their lives, yet we kept coming back to the topic of food. We just could NOT stop talking about lunch. In the past I would’ve been embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t full or that I hadn’t been satisfied by what I had been served. The food was amazing, it just didn’t fill or satisfy me. A few years ago, being around other women, especially those smaller than me, would have left me feeling gluttonous and big. Even those intrusive food thoughts would have left me feeling ashamed.
Afterwards, on the long drive home, I carpooled with another woman and we stopped at a fast food joint for some ‘bad food’. As we ate our meals, we became very quiet and very focused. The calm that came over my body was remarkable. I didn’t attribute that feeling to anything in particular, I just noticed it. The next day at work, I was eating the way I normally do, (something that I’ve been working at diligently throughout this process) and I realized that I hadn’t had any food thoughts all day. How interesting. I then started thinking about my stress eating and my emotional eating in the past.
Years ago I was always looking for outside sources to tell me what I was supposed to be eating. I would follow directions on how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat. Any guru with a success story would become my source for advice. I would be constantly changing my routine to ‘clean up my diet’ according to the latest ‘expert’ advice. The so called ‘bad foods’ would vary from diet to diet, but ultimately my calorie count would go way down. Invariably after a while, maybe the first day, maybe the third, the food thoughts would start. I would constantly be thinking about when I would eat next and what it would be. I believed this was one of my weaknesses. I thought that there was something wrong with me.
My aha! moment came when I thought back to the calm I felt eating the ‘bad food’ on my way home from the retreat. When I compare that to all the times that I thought that I was emotional eating or stress eating after one diet or another, I wonder how much of it was me just being hungry? All those times that I wasn’t satisfied, or I wasn’t full, it wasn’t emotional eating, it was a simple case of biological hunger. The only emotions I felt instead came from eating the foods I had labeled as ‘bad’, and most of the time it was a feeling of guilt. My emotions didn’t cause the hunger, the hunger caused my emotions. Now between meals I am free to live my life, and free from all consuming food thoughts.
Back then, I didn’t realize that I was starving my body. I was giving it nutritious food and I was eating ‘right’ (I even had science backing me up). Instead, I now eat according to what my body wants. It doesn’t matter what the research says, I’m my own nutritional guru. When I honour and trust in myself, I don’t get food obsessed and I don’t have intrusive food thoughts. I eat when I’m hungry, I stop when I’m full. Then I don’t think about food again until my body tells me that it’s hungry.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.
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