Like you, perhaps, Â Iâ€™ve tried every diet on the market, from the Cabbage Soup Diet to South Beach and everything in between. Right now I call myself an intuitive/mindful/healthy/flexitarian eater. I have no idea what that means (Iâ€™m still trying to figure it out). All I know is that it works for me. On a good day. To reach this point, however, has been a major struggle.Â Let me explain.
I fell in love with a philosophy called Intuitive Eating last year. While I had heard the term and read books about it earlier in my dieting career, I would think, â€œYeah, that sounds nice. But not for me. Now pass the Wasa crackers.â€Â But for some reason, I picked up the book Intuitive Eating one fated day and thus began a wonderful love affair.
If youâ€™re not familiar with the principles of Intuitive Eating, itâ€™s all about turning your back to dieting and learning to listen to the inner whispers of your body. Youâ€™re taught how to eat when youâ€™re hungry, stop when youâ€™re full (seems obvious and simple, right? Not for a compulsive, emotional eater). To eat all the foods that you truly enjoy, includingâ€¦gasp!…chocolate.
Now letâ€™s stop here. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic and, as a professional dieter, I had never allowed myself to truly enjoy a morsel of chocolately goodness. OK, perhaps on my birthdays, but then Iâ€™d spend the next day feeling ridiculously guilty and spending large parts of my day at the gym.Â So, the fact that this way of eating allowed me, no, convinced me, that chocolate should be a part of my diet was all I needed.
The floodgates opened. I didnâ€™t just eat chocolate. I consumed it by the pound. I visited every bakery in a one-mile radius of my home. I became best friends with the guy that drove the artisan ice cream truck to my neighborhood. I ate desserts that began with the words â€œooeyâ€ and â€œgooeyâ€ and â€œdeath by.â€ I tell you, life for those three or four months were good. I ate something sweet every day.
Then, who could believe it? My pants wouldnâ€™t fit.Â And I realized I didnâ€™t feel so good anymore. I felt tired, sluggish, and my digestion was off. Way off.Â It seemed that I was back where I started before Intuitive Eating: unhappy and overweight.
You see, I turned Intuitive Eating into some sort of strange diet that gave me the permission to eat whatever I wanted. No matter that my body was craving somethingâ€”anythingâ€”green, my thought process went something like this: â€œWell, I see the cookie, and the cookie looks good. And, I want the cookie, and so Intuitive Eating says I can have it because no foods should be off-limits. Thus, the cookie shall be mine.â€
Now can you see what sort of mess I got myself into? In my zeal for trying something new, I began treating Intuitive Eating as this weird way of eating, or, as I fondly call it, the â€œI can eat anything and everything whenever I damn well pleaseâ€ diet. Thatâ€™s obviously not the point of intuitive eating.Â The point is the exact opposite: to honor your body and itâ€™s desires, to feed it wholesome foods that it naturally craves, and yes, to allow yourself chocolate, but in moderation. If you want the cookie, eat the cookie and donâ€™t feel guilty about it. But donâ€™t use it as an excuse to eat ALL the cookies at your local bakery in one sitting.
Itâ€™s taken me some time to rebound from thoseÂ â€œchocolate crazyâ€ days as I not-so-fondly call them.Â I went back and re-read Intuitive Eating and really studied its principles, and recognized that my body feels betterâ€”actually, much betterâ€”when fed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a small piece of chocolate.
Giving up chronic dieting was the most difficult thing Iâ€™ve ever had to do.Â Seriously. And being introduced to Intuitive Eating was one of the best things to ever happen to me, chocolate covered mishaps and all.Â Intuitive Eating has given me freedom from rice cakes, cottage cheese, and foods that start with â€œlow fat.â€ My weight has finally stabilized and I feel like a well-humming machine.
Even after eating the occasional â€œOoey Gooey Death by Chocolateâ€ dessert.