I ran into the same young lady twice in one week who I have not seen in a few years. Usually when I run into people I haven’t seen in a long time it means I’m going to learn something new. The first time I saw her, it was at the gym (she just signed up for a yearly membership) and the second time it was at Starbucks on Friday.
We began chatting and soon enough the conversation turned into workouts, the gym and diets. She opened up a lot about her struggles with food, and I asked if could share her thoughts on my blog. She agreed, but wants to remain anonymous. “D.J” is an acquaintance I know through her aunt, who is my friend. The last time I saw D.J she was just a teenager. Now she is twenty-five and it was a nice surprise to see her at the gym and again when I was lining up to buy my coffee.
Now I don’t know much about intuitive eating, but I think this is the eating philosophy D.J lives by from what she told me that evening at Starbucks. From what I gathered by people who practice intuitive eating, it seems to me that it means that the individual lets their body lead their dietary needs, not a specific diet or eating plan. The intuitive eater eats what they want when they want because that is what their body is telling them. At least that’s my take on the whole thing. As I said, I really don’t know anything behind the philosophy. This is the definition found at www.intuitiveeating.com
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom. It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts. It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as “bad” or “fattening”.
Intuitive eating also encourages people to forget the diet mentality, honour your cravings and hunger and to make peace with food.
D.J doesn’t know me very well, but I think she wanted to confide in me, or just get some thoughts off her chest. She said the trainer she hired at the gym was knowledgeable, experienced, nice and most importantly, her trainer was a good listener. You see, this trainer began advising D.J about portion sizes and healthy food choices. Nutrition is apart of your personal training package, not solely workout plans. This is where D.J said she felt uncomfortable, almost uneasy about discussing nutrition. I follow a meal plan with portion sizes from my trainer, but I also practice moderation. In fact my trainer encourages moderation, and discourages deprivation. After talking with her, she knows what I need to stay satiated and energized and I like my meal plan (which includes wine and desserts on occasion.) But what about those people who can’t follow a diet? Where do they fit into the big scheme of things?
D.J confided in me that she told the trainer she could never count calories or portion out her carbs EVER again. She came from a very unhappy, unhealthy place in her life three years ago. She had lost over fifty pounds and everyone was telling her how amazing she looked. She limited herself to one-third of this, and half a teaspoons of that. Carbs, sugar, starch, were “bad.” Her enemies. One piece of grilled tilapia and a salad with no dressing was her go-to meal. Those foods were “good.” Those foods were allowed. Certain fruit had too much sugar and carbs; rice was off-limits. She packaged her own food to bring to wedding, showers and Christmas parties. She deprived and obsessed she went on to say. People told her how strong and disciplined she was, but D.J felt weak and defeated. Food ran her existence. According to D.J she looked like ” Skeletor with extensions.” Sallow complexion, no menstrual cycle, low energy and brittle nails became the norm. She thought this is what healthy felt like and looked like.
I thought wow, I was D.J twenty years ago! I could relate to much of what she was describing. She went on to say that she can never go back to that torturous phase in her life where food ruled her entire being. Hunger made her verbally attack her mother and sister with words she regrets to this day. Hunger made her eat an entire bag of Oreos. I just felt compelled to hug D.J. I was feeling emotional over her story because in her story were so many pieces of mine.
So now, D.J does not believe in quarter cups or one eights. If she wants to eat a cup of rice and her body needs the starch, she eats a cup of rice. Oreos are not her enemy, yes a bag is not conducive to healthy living, but if she feels she needs a few cookies, she happily eats them. Guilt free. No more Tupperware containers at family gatherings with steamed broccoli and tilapia. She has her cake, pasta or whatever is on the menu. Her body’s needs as her guide. “She follows her intuition,” she explained. I didn’t want to ask her if she considered herself an intuitive eater, because I didn’t want to label her description, but that is exactly what it sounded like to me. D.J says she is much heavier than those days of the past, but she is much happier and content.
“I joined the gym to become healthier and stronger. Not to be obsessive all over again,” she said. “I just want to be healthy and have more energy. I hate viewing food as good and bad now. Do you know what I mean?” she asked, her eyes, dark and intense. Just then Andy called to tell me he was outside waiting for me. “I have to run, D.J,” I said gathering my bag and phone.
Before leaving, I stood up from my seat and gave her a big hug. “And yes, I know exactly what you mean.” I felt thankful she felt comfortable enough to confide in me. I looked in the window of Starbucks as I buckled my seatbelt and looked at D.J taking something out a white paper bag. I looked at D.J biting into a brownie. Happily biting into a brownie.