101, Dieting/WLS, Food, Health at Every Size

Intuitive Eating Case Study: My Last Three Meals

Last week, a reporter who was trying to get her head around the concept of Health at Every Size asked me, “So… what do you eat?”

Food, mostly. Tree bark and car parts are much harder for the human body to digest. Next question?

Smartassitude aside, I actually get questions like this a lot from readers — and usually, what they really mean is, “What am I allowed to eat to uphold my Good Fatty status?”

The answer is the same: food. But since I’m still learning intuitive eating as I go along, and I know how weird and… well, counterintuitive it can seem at first, let me tell you about the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, I had a photographer coming over in the late morning to take pictures of me for the article the aforementioned reporter was working on. This meant that I spent the early morning frantically tidying, selecting an outfit, and fucking with my hair. And I forgot to eat. Then the reporter was a bit late, and the shoot took a bit longer than I expected. So there I was at like 1 p.m. with no food in my belly, and I was fucking starving.

Al asked what I wanted for lunch, and I immediately said, “Hot dogs.” Plural. No question. At that moment, I felt like I wanted to eat about 10 of them, and I ended up ordering 2 at the restaurant we went to, which is unusual for me. Fries weren’t even on my radar — I just wanted dense, fatty meat like nobody’s business.

Why? Because I was hungry. Because my body was screaming for something that would fill me up as fast as possible.

Last night, I had plans to cook dinner, but then Al felt like going out. So we went to a restaurant that’s fast becoming one of our favorites. I looked over the menu, which includes steak, burgers, pulled pork, and pumpkin ravioli with sage and dates in brown butter sauce that is so fucking good, I can’t even tell you. (Not to mention the caramel apple bread pudding on the dessert menu, OH MY GOD.) I like all of those things. A lot. But what caught my eye last night was the tilapia with spinach and roast fingerling potatoes.

I’d never ordered it before, and I was really tempted to relive one of the yummy meals I’d had there in the past — the aforementioned ravioli, or another ravioli dish with vodka tomato cream sauce that was on special, or a huge bowl of corn poblano chowder, or the warm poached pear stuffed with blue cheese, alongside a big basket of fresh bread dipped in olive oil… But as I was considering all those things, I couldn’t get the tilapia out of my head, which told me that was what I really wanted. (Well, that and the bread, which is half the reason we go there.)

Logically, choosing what you really want from a menu ain’t rocket science, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t at some point been paralyzed with indecision while a waiter stood around tapping his foot. For me, indecision is part of going out as often as not, and it’s always for one of two reasons: 1) I’m hungry and 10 different things sound good to me, or 2) I’m trying to talk myself into the “good” thing and out of the “bad” thing, having an internal battle that goes, “I know intellectually that I really love this particular salad, and it will totally fill me up, but… BURGERBURGERBURGER.”

A big part of learning to eat intuitively has been learning to leave my intellect out of it and just order the goddamned burger, because I know I’ll mourn the loss of it if I get the salad. It’s fucking stupid, this mourning of food I could get any time, but then, that’s why I’ve been training myself to just go ahead and order it — to reinforce the idea that yes, I can have this any time, because I am a freakin’ grown up, and no one is going to burn me at the stake for eating a high-calorie meal. (Yet.) And the more I believe that, the more I find myself naturally and truly drawn to a wide variety of foods, instead of having the BURGERBURGERBURGER voices drown everything else out whenever I sit down at a restaurant. That’s the damn point of intuitive eating — but it’s also why it’s trickier than it seems.

So, after way too much consideration, I ordered the tilapia, ’cause it was what I really wanted. And like everything else I’ve had there, OMG, so good. Fish was beautifully done, beurre blanc was awesome, and the very lemony spinach was so yum I wish they’d given me twice as much of it. (I should have asked and might next time, actually. I’ve told this story somewhere on the blog before, but this is also the restaurant where I once ordered the smoked chicken, apple, grape, pecan, etc., salad, and only ate about 2 bites of the chicken, because I was really just into the rest of it. The waiter said, “You left the best part!” and I said, “Ehh, I wasn’t really in a chicken mood tonight, but I could have eaten like 9 more apples.” Then I went to the bathroom and when I came back, there was a plate of sliced apple on the table, compliments of the waiter. LOVE. Also, there’s intuitive eating in action for you — most likely, I hadn’t had enough fruit in the day or two before that, so I became obsessed with the apples and grapes and couldn’t give a shit about the “best part.”)

Then it came time to look at the dessert menu, and Al and I both decided to look, because their desserts are so damn good. But upon looking, we both realized, whaddaya know, we just weren’t hungry anymore. The caramel apple bread pudding sounded good — ’cause it always sounds good — but we just weren’t feeling dessert. I was, however, feeling port. At first, I ordered the Taylor 10-year but was told they only had Cockburn 10-year. I was about to take that, and it totally would have been fine, but then Al said, “For god’s sake, just get the Graham 20. You know you love that.”

Good point. But the Graham 20 was 12 freakin’ dollars a glass, so I hadn’t even let myself consider it. Which is just idiotic, because the 10-year was $10, and if I’m going to pay more for a glass of port than I did for my entire lunch, what’s 2 bucks? But this is the kind of thing I do to myself so often when looking at menus: I immediately identify the thing I really want but feel too guilty to order it — either because it’s obscenely expensive or obscenely calorific — so I try to find something that’s good enough instead. Truth was, the Graham 20 was what I really wanted from the get-go. But I couldn’t order it until Al explicitly gave me permission. (Which means I probably shouldn’t be so hard on those friends who try to dragoon me into splitting dessert with them when I’m not hungry; it’s not like I don’t have my own hang-ups about what I’m allowed to consume and how and when.)

That meal cost a bundle, but it was awesome, and it was exactly what I wanted, start to finish. I am still new enough to this intuitive eating shit to be surprised and pleased when that happens just like it’s supposed to.

So that was last night. This morning, I woke up to a much more normal day — made coffee, puttered, got hungry, and had some oatmeal with dried blueberries and cranberries. Normal morning, normal food, yummy but not anything special. Now, it’s almost time for lunch, and I’m thinking about what I want. Most likely, it’s gonna be tomato soup and a salad with sliced green apple and blue cheese vinaigrette, as that’s what I have in the house that sounds best to me right now. And you know what really doesn’t sound good today? Hot dogs. Especially not 2 hot dogs with everything but tomatoes AS FAST AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY MAKE THEM, PLEASE. Because I had breakfast and am therefore not so hungry I could eat Crisco out of the can.*

So, there’s a snapshot of what I eat. Food. Whatever sounds good to me for any number of reasons — I’m fucking starving; I haven’t had fish in a while; I love the combination of citrus and spinach; oatmeal will fill me up without much effort; there’s tomato soup in the fridge, etc. Food. Just food. And I eat however much it takes to satisfy me at a given moment.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Except for the part where it isn’t at all, when it comes after 30 years of being taught that my actual desires will inevitably steer me wrong, so I must apply some external set of rules to my food choices or suffer the consequences (e.g., guilt, shame, a fat ass, “loss of boyfriend,” and an early death).

This is also why, when pressed to describe what I promote here — usually as a counterpoint to someone’s assumption that I promote sitting on your ass eating donuts all day — I try to remember to say something like a “balanced” or “varied” diet, rather than a “healthy” diet. Or worse yet, a “good” diet. For the umpteenth and nowhere near last time, eating is a morally neutral act. I mean, if you want to talk to me about animal rights, or supporting small farmers, or boycotting irresponsible corporations, or minimizing environmental damage, then sure, we can discuss food in moral terms. It makes sense in those contexts. But the morality of your diet has jack shit to do with how many calories you consumed or how many chocolates you didn’t eat in a given day, all right? Depriving yourself does not make you a better person, and eating what you feel like eating does not make you weak. (Hear that, India Knight?)

And most importantly, occasionally having 2 hot dogs for lunch does not make your diet unbalanced. Having hot dogs 3 meals a day would. So would having spinach 3 meals a day. But eating a wide variety of foods as your body demands them is the very definition of a balanced diet. Being terrified of certain foods (unless your body actually reacts poorly to them) and ascribing imaginary virtue to others is a recipe for an unbalanced diet. Thinking only in terms of how many calories you’re consuming in a given day is, too. Ditto letting yourself get so hungry you’re well past the point of hearing anything from your body other than “FOOD. LOTS. NOW.” — which not only is why I snarfed those hot dogs yesterday but just might be why so many people on diets assume that if they ever let up, they’d immediately go eat a pound of bacon in one sitting and wash it down with a whole chocolate cake. Ya think?

And for my money, a balanced/varied diet IS a healthy diet — I just try not to use that phrase, because it’s most often used as code for “diet that makes you thin.” Which, as we all know, is often not a diet that’s actually good for your body. I mean, I could be wrong, and science could someday prove that eating nothing but Sweet Tarts is the path to optimum health. But as things are right now, I think listening to my body is the best shot I’ve got at giving it what it needs.

I eat food. I recommend that everyone do the same. The end.

*Dear Trolls, this is what’s known as EXAGGERATING FOR HUMOROUS EFFECT.

196 thoughts on “Intuitive Eating Case Study: My Last Three Meals”

  1. I love your answer to the question of what you eat. I occasionally answer the question “what kind of food do you like?” with “edible” :D

    Intuituve eating takes a while to get one’s brain wrapped around, esp if you have a history of denying yourself good food because we weren’t supposed to have it.

    That tilapia sounds delish! We go to a couple of restaurants here that have totally to die for menus that make it hard to chose what to get. Most times I end up settling for a less expensive entree when what I really want is the top $$ steak, and while good, wasn’t quite what I wanted. There have been times when we could afford the more expensive entree, but the less expensive entree is definitely what I wanted that evening.

  2. I have been working a lot on intuitive eating lately. And for the most part, it’s going okay. The one thing I’m having trouble with is chocolate. When I say “having trouble with”, I don’t mean eating too much – although I hope I stop eating quite so much, because good chocolate’s expensive! – but with the concept of “I’m an adult and I can get this any time I want.”

    I think part of it is that when I was growing up, my family didn’t spend money on things like chocolate/candy/etc. Not because we couldn’t afford it; we were blessed to be quite well off and in general I never lacked for anything. It was just that there was a strong sense that ‘treats’ like that were not worth spending money on, unless it was a special occasion or something. And I picked that up – I never spent any of my allowance on ‘treats’ (food or otherwise) for myself, and even now when I have a bit more income it’s hard for me to remember that I can buy them for myself any time I want. Even though I’ve started to realize that if there’s not chocolate in the house, I will obsess over chocolate until there is again, I still find myself standing in the candy aisle on grocery day trying to decide which one chocolate thing to get instead of remembering that I can buy them all, if I want, or at least as many as I can afford. I’m still learning to think of spending money on the food my body wants as a worthwhile investment.

  3. And this is precisely why I don’t feel bad about eating three blueberry scones with butter and two slices of pizza yesterday. They felt good and tasted wonderful yesterday. Today, I can’t be bothered. Oatmeal with berries sounded great for breakfast, and tomato soup felt terrific for lunch. I don’t know what I’ll be eating for dinner, but I won’t feel guilty about it, no matter what it is.

    The important thing is that I eat enough things that make my body feel good and don’t beat myself up when I have a little ice cream or a slice of my infamous homemade pie.

    It really is about giving yourself permission to like whatever you like, and that can be scary at first. In the longrun, though, it’s liberating.

  4. Yay! This is such a great post. When will the aforementioned article come out?

    I’m going to bake some oatmeal cookies this afternoon and I am quite happy about it.

  5. I’ve been thinking about this intuitive eating thing recently, as well. As usual, you have great timing!

    I’ve just noticed that my body goes through these cheese craving cycles; every week and a half or so, I eat cheese like it’s going outta style. I finally realised that it’s because I don’t eat dairy that often. I mean, I have milk on cereal, but I’m not a big dairy eater overall. And so, every once in a while, my body needs to stock up on the calcium. Bingo! Cheese cravings that MUST NOT BE DENIED.

    It’s nice to let my body have something it needs. Plus, cheese never tastes as good as it does when I’m craving it. Mmmmm.

  6. I engaged in an interesting (to me – this kind of stuff is a little like dreams in that [i]I[/i] find it fascinating but everybody else? probably not so much) intuitive eating experiment on Friday. My husband was out with coworkers so I only had to worry about feeding myself, and I went to the grocery store with self-granted permission to get whatever I felt like it for dinner. After some wandering, I came out with frozen peas in butter sauce and a package of frozen pork gyoza.

    I’ve since returned and bought about five different frozen bricks of vegetables in various sauces because those peas were surprisingly tasty.

  7. Oh, I forgot – I also got a packet of shortbread cookies and a jar of fig and ginger jam (DELICIOUS). Actually, as I stood in line I thought to myself that based on my food selections, to the knowing eye I probably looked high as God.

    Intuitive eating means always eating like you’re stoned, I guess.

  8. I mentioned this on someone’s blog… I’m fond of visiting with the “bad” foods, just to remind myself that I could have them if I wanted to. It was definitely feast or famine for me when I was younger — someone really WAS going to take it away, so I felt I had to hoard, and then I felt guilty, which is how I ended up throwing up all the time (although I never had more than a subclinical binge, but the important thing was that I felt like I was eating everything before someone took it, and then felt like I had to get rid of it out of shame). So now occasionally I’ll go to the grocery store and just want to spend some time in the bakery aisle. Dan is mystified — “you don’t want this stuff, this is BAD cake, you like GOOD cake.” But I don’t actually want to get it, just to remind myself that I COULD because I’m ALLOWED. (In fact I never buy this stuff at the grocery store. We don’t keep anything that could be considered “junk” around, besides high-quality dark chocolate. If we feel like soda or chips or cake, we can damn well go get some; space is at a premium and needs to be used for nutritious stuff. But the reminder that we COULD go get some is important to my sanity.)

    As for figuring out what I actually want to eat, it’s hard because I often don’t want anything — and several times recently, I’ve thought I knew exactly what I wanted, and that thing turned out to make me sick. It’s tough when you throw gastrointestinal idiosyncrasies into the mix, because I might (say) really need protein or unsaturated fats, and therefore want to eat peanut butter, but eating peanut butter will WRECK me. So part of intuitive eating for me has been allowing myself to eat a very small, very white meal, like apple slices and toast or a baked potato, and not feel like I should be eating more protein, or eating “like a grownup,” or like I’m inconveniencing others by not wanting a full meal. Next up is figuring out how to cut out the self-recrimination when I err and make myself sick.

    It’s awfully handy to have someone who cooks for you and just wants to make you happy. Dan never makes fun of me for eating weird.

  9. LOL @ “What do you eat? food“. That sounds exactly like what I’d say. The bf has learned not to ask what I want for dinner, because I’m likely to just say “food, you know, the edible kind”.

    I feel like I’m getting the hand of this intuitive eating thing. When I first started trying it a few months ago, I worried because I felt like I was hungry all the time, and often wanted food I normally wouldn’t let myself have. But I think that was just the post-diet rebound, as I’m now reaching a point where my eating is more balanced and varied. Most days, I eat lots of veggies and whole grains, because that’s what sounds good and it fills me up. But yesterday, I was in the middle of moving out of my apartment, all my dishes and food were packed away and I didn’t want to cook, so I walked down to my corner store and got a shrimp po-boy. I’d been living there for 7 months and had heard there po-boys were good, but I’d never “let” myself get one because HELLO, fried shrimp? on a huge french roll? with – omg – mayonnaise?!? eeevil! But dang was it tasty, and you know what? It didn’t make me gain 5 pounds, and today I’m back to craving Kashi and a salad for dinner. It’s so nice to be able to trust my body again. What a concept, right?

  10. Oatmeal with berries sounded great for breakfast, and tomato soup felt terrific for lunch

    Twistie, get out of my head! (Or maybe my kitchen.)

    Intuitive eating means always eating like you’re stoned, I guess.

    Quote of the week!

    And actually, upon further reflection, it’s kinda true. Not just in terms of weird cravings, but ’cause when I was smoking pot, the best part of the munchies was that everything tasted soooooo good. An onion bagel with cream cheese or shitty chocolates or Cheetos all tasted like THE MOST SPECTACULAR THING I HAD EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH.

    Now, I choose what to eat based on what sounds like it will (and hopefully actually will) taste just that good to me. And as a result, I have a lot more “OMG, that was so fucking good” moments without having to be high to get them. Go figure.

  11. Thanks, Kate, this is a great post.

    And this reminds me that I have the hardest damn time with my intuitive eating when finances are tight (as they have been for me the last couple of months especially) and I can’t afford to indulge my cravings. Right now I want dim sum like nobody’s business and tons of it. Don’t have the money for it, especially not for two. Waaah.

    Also, my partner never “feels like going out” for dinner in the winter, except maybe on Valentine’s Day. (Fortunately, he does often feel like baking cookies and bread and muffins.) Partly that’s because we have no car and the only decent restaurant within walking distance is always mobbed (and both of us HATE queing up to eat). I need to make more money, that’s all there is to it.

  12. Ya know, when I lived in the city, eating intuitively was so much easier. Now that I live in the sticks, my food options are very limited and I have to plan things out in order to get what I want/need.

    I suspect all that planning is one of the reasons WHY I’m having so much trouble actually eating right now. I just want to go to my favorite kabob stand and get food that I am so desperately craving. Except that kabob stand is about seven hours away and if I dared to mention middle eastern food around these parts, I might be hauled off the jail.

    Food anxiety sucks. And it sucks even more when the options are so limited.

  13. I’ve been practicing intuitive eating for a while now without realizing it actually had a name. I always forget how much my body knows until I get reminders like you did at the restaurant.

    This morning, for example, I woke up having a dream that I was taking a bite out of a giant hunk of tofu (seriously, it was like an apple sized block). As I put on the coffee, I wanted an egg, but I had no eggs in the fridge. I didn’t think about it, it was just a sort of buzzing in the background of my mind until I realized my body desperately wanted protein! I’ve been sick and for the past three days the antiobiotics have kept me from eating much more than gingerale and the occasional piece of homemade bread.

    I made the pasta I was planning on having from lunch, but decided the beans and lentils in the sauce wouldn’t be enough protein considering I haven’t had any in a few days now, so I tossed in a half cup of tofu blocks. Sounds weird but it worked and I feel ten times better than I did this morning.

    The permission thing is so true, too. It wasn’t until I moved into my own place for the first time this fall that I realized I didn’t have to justify every thing that I bought at the grocery store, or seek someone’s approval about what I was having.

  14. And this reminds me that I have the hardest damn time with my intuitive eating when finances are tight (as they have been for me the last couple of months especially) and I can’t afford to indulge my cravings.

    Very true. And fwiw, when I was writing this, I was conscious of the privilege involved in choosing from a bunch of relatively costly menu items and between stupid expensive ports. But having said that, I also have days when hot buttered toast is every bit as gratifying as the tilapia was. That just happened to be what I ate last night.

  15. I’ve been doing this for years now, and am amazed at what my body wants, and when it wants it. I did the Breast Cancer 3 day two summers ago and subsisted on scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, fresh berries and grape nuts. After walking for 13 hours a day, all I could do was climb in bed with a huge bowl of grape nuts, and fall asleep.
    I think the idea of intuitive eating is a new one though, as it’s such a new thing that we have so many CHOICES! For the most part, as an american, I can have whatever I want whenever I want. I have grapes from Chile in my colander, Grapefruit from Florida, and milk from down the road here in Washington State.
    So one thing I’ve been thinking more about and wanting to support more is eating not only what I want but also that which is gentle to the earth – My wanting grapes does not make it okay for me to have spent a ton in carbon emissions to get them. I’ll eat them and enjoy them, but I don’t like the choice I made.
    I’ll do it differently next time, I hope, and consistently do more to be more gentle.

  16. My brain is so lost that eating like this sounds foreign to me. I’m so tired of feeling like food is another language I can’t be bothered to speak!

  17. Wow. I just read the India Knight article. Apparantly, she lost 100 pounds, and you can too! Buy her book!

    Totally off topic, but I had to vent this. I went to see U23D in Indy last night. Before the film, “my bitch Mitch” (IN governer) had a special PSA: “10 in 10”. Lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks, Hoosiers! The PSA was complete with a fatty putting a donut back. The best part was when he said “lose 10 pounds. And if you can, quit smoking.” WTF? Everyone MUST lose weight, but quitting smoking is optional?


  18. The message from the media/medical industrial complex is that if we don’t maintain absolute rigid control over our bodies and what goes into them our bodies will go on this wild orgy of eating nothing but baby flavored donuts for the rest of our lives. Our bodies are EEEEEEVIL and cannot be trusted.

    Just one more of the Big Lies about food and diets.

  19. Apparantly, she lost 100 pounds, and you can too! Buy her book!

    You know, it occurs to me. Normally when I see people talking about a “disease” on the internet, and this disease is supposed to be responsible for multiple physical ills affecting multiple different systems (say, it gives you diabetes and heart problems and joint paint and makes you tired and sweaty and smelly and unable to stop eating and morally bad and it kills you), and then they try to sell you a book or nostrum? Especially when, as in the India Knight article, people talk openly about ignoring scientific studies? That means that the whole thing is total hokum.

  20. Especially when, as in the India Knight article, people talk openly about ignoring scientific studies?

    Yeah, I love that. “I admit that it’s true, but I STILL DON’T BELIEVE IT.”

  21. Ya know, when I lived in the city, eating intuitively was so much easier. Now that I live in the sticks, my food options are very limited and I have to plan things out in order to get what I want/need.

    Oh do I hear that.

    I love intuitive eating because it makes food so damn enjoyable, but there are days when I want some injera and misir wat and I know it’s just not going to happen so I have to resort to some other kind of food. Before, wanting something and not giving it to myself was pretty much a way of life, but now my mind/body simply doesn’t understand anymore and throws a little tantrum. Sucks.

    Tonight I’m having bean soup and homemade cornbread which I’ve actually wanted for a few days, but haven’t had the time to make.

  22. Seriously, where did we suddenly get the idea that fat was more deadly than smoking? And if we don’t see people lighting up in the room we happen to be in, that means nobody is doing it anymore? I’ve actually heard people say, “Obesity is the new smoking.” Come ON. Ever see a 2-year-old having a cigarette?

  23. kira, I’m so jealous of your po’boy proximity. I love the menu at Parasol’s that lists “swimps” and “ersters” for po’boy options :)

    Everyone’s comments are ringing so true for me. I eliminated meat from my diet in the carb-crazy eighties and eliminated carbs in the most recent go around of the go-go protein ought-ties. Ack.

    And I think so much of my lack of intuitive eating was tied up in upbringing. Not that my folks were abusive, but due to plain old practicality I didn’t get to “choose” what I got to eat for dinner growing up (you ate what was put in front of you!), and desserts were allowed, but in limited quantities and highly revered (sugar = reward!). But I can’t really imagine having kids and asking them what they want every night, and then making separate meals for everyone in the family. Maybe some people do it that way.

  24. So many things in this post resonated for me. Right now I’m seriously intuitive-confused. I have been grazing on fifty different kinds of food to figure out what my body really wants, and I end up being full of food that is not nourishing me. It’s rather pissing me off. I’ve gone through my standard list of It Foods, and can’t find the right connection. I do find that I usually go for stuff that I couldn’t have as a kid–pudding, beef jerky, and Chinese food top the list. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I a) had a fight with my husband about my weight and b) am getting ready for a week of exams.

    Also, I know what it’s like, acutely, to have food insecurity. Not only did I grow up in a household of six kids where only one parent worked, but I’m now a “starving student.” So I know that when I eat beyond comfort it’s because there is a child in my mind saying it will be gone in the morning, and Mom won’t shop until next Monday, or a grown up saying lobster? are you fucking KIDDING me?. When a single outing to lobster would satisfy me way more than three frozen chimichangas.

    Finally, in class we were instructed to ask about our patients’ personal habits with “Do you eat a healthy diet?” Well, first, that’s a pretty broad statement–as if it’s ALWAYS healthy or unhealthy. Second, I don’t think that question is as effective in gaining trust and confidence as “Do you eat a wide variety of foods?” or “Are you comfortable with the kinds of foods you eat?” So I subvert and ask that instead. Yay Shapeling Anarchists!

  25. Tonight I’m having bean soup and homemade cornbread which I’ve actually wanted for a few days, but haven’t had the time to make.

    Okay, ALL of you, get out of my head/kitchen. ‘Cause I was totally looking at the cornbread mix in my cupboard this afternoon and thinking “Mmm, maybe that and black bean soup for dinner…”

    I love soup.

    I have been grazing on fifty different kinds of food to figure out what my body really wants, and I end up being full of food that is not nourishing me.

    Phledge, I think a good thing to remember is that you’re not going to die of malnutrition while you’re trying to figure out your body’s signals. I actually meant to link to this post of Attrice’s in my post, but forgot. Crap food is still energy. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

  26. I don’t think I’ve commented here before, though I read here pretty much every day.

    I’m not so good at intuitive eating yet, but after reading this post, my brain has been chanting “blueberries. blueberries! BLUEBERRIES!!!”.

    I think I know what I’m having for dinner. :)

  27. But I can’t really imagine having kids and asking them what they want every night, and then making separate meals for everyone in the family. Maybe some people do it that way.

    I don’t make a habit of fixing different meals for every member of my family, but I do try to fix things that I know they won’t hate; it’s better than nothing, I suppose!

    My daughter does have input on what she wants for her lunches at school. It’s a start.

  28. Y’know, I’m not upset with myself so much as I am hungry for something that I haven’t found yet. It’s a weird feeling. Knowing full well that I’ve put food in–and actually it’s been a combination of all different types of food, from salad to cottage cheese to chips and salsa to graham crackers to soup–but still feeling hungry is bizarre to me. And there’s a big chunk of Mother Brainwashing that’s harping at me from beyond the grave: YOU JUST ATE. YOU COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE HUNGRY. Yeah, shut yer hole, Mom. I know what I’m feeling, and it’s hunger. I just am not sure what to pick off the menu.

  29. Intuitive eating. Yeah. I’m working on it, but some of my progress is limited by having a limited income. Once-a-month cooking helps, because I can always swap stuff around in the meal plan…thirty meals, thirty days, it really doesn’t matter what day I eat the beef stew on.

    I get almost equal pleasure from cooking the food, too. I mean, making soup from scratch with a beef knuckle and vegetables is almost sensuous, working for the right texture and flavor of the soup, and assessing what will work with it, or what won’t….It’s really enjoyable. I love working dough for pizza or bread. It’s all fun.

    Of course I also get my nose filled up with the smell, and then can’t eat what I spent the last eighteen hours cooking. But the freezer comes in handy then. I can bag and freeze my nice beef and barley soup and know that it will be there when I can eat it.

  30. I’m so glad that you write things like this. It’s so common sense, yet so hard to understand through the web of dietary ‘advice’ we’ve grown up with.
    I’ve noticed one intuitive thing in particular – when I go too long without eating enough produce, I develop a huge craving for V8 juice, and can go through two jugs of it in less than a week. The rest of the time, it makes me sick to even think of drinking it!
    My body revolting over my brain programming and telling me what to do is the only way I can explain it.

  31. Alexandra, isn’t that an awesome feeling? I find cooking–chopping, stirring, hand-grinding herbs in a mortar and pestle, kneading, brewing tea or coffee, prepping meat for roasts–absolutely sensual. Too bad I rarely have the time these days…

  32. I’ve recently been trying to do the same thing, and I’ve suddenly found what I really, really love are roasted vegetables and interesting salads etc. It’s weird how you stop being obsessed. My mind used to read something like ‘chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, OMG chocolate’ so much so I felt I couldn’t have it in the house because I would just vacuum it up. I put this down to 1- knowing it was ‘forbidden’ and 2- trying to keep myself slightly hungry all the time. Now I have some in the cupboard that has been sitting there for about two weeks untouched, because now I’m allowed it I haven’t really fancied it.

    This post reminds me of a guardian article that said basically ‘eat this, don’t eat that, have a brazil nut twice a week’ kind of advice was useless and as a rule we all should be told ‘eat, food, mainly plant-derived’.

    Ps, this post is totally food porn to me, I’ve a notepad by my computer that now says get spinach and lemon and blue cheese dressing.

  33. I’ve been an ‘Overcoming Overeating” girl for a while now … with the fabulous success of not having considered dieting in about five years, of having a closet full of clothes I like that actually fit me, of buying myself a bike so I could do something I really missed doing rather than waiting until some magical day when I woke up thin …

    Intuitive eating continues to be a challenge for me. There are times when it works easily and well, and others when I struggle hard. People do still sometimes comment on my ‘strange’ eating habits but when someone questions a food choice I’ve made, most pipe down when I say, ‘It’s what I was hungry for.’

    My main frustration these days, though, is not having enough time to cook for myself. Working day and night is really cramping my food style. With a long weekend coming up, I’m hoping to do some advance cooking and prep. When I can’t cook for myself, I never feel quite as satisfied by what I eat, and I hate that feeling. It’s not that I’m some amazing cook. It’s more about knowing what’s going into the meal, taking the time to work for myself like that, and how much I love cooking.

  34. Wow, I’ve been trying to tell people that for years. You tend to crave what your body needs. Simple. In fact, my constant craving for sushi or just fish in general is how I figured out that I have a bit of an iodine deficiency.

  35. This post reminds me of a guardian article that said basically ‘eat this, don’t eat that, have a brazil nut twice a week’ kind of advice was useless and as a rule we all should be told ‘eat, food, mainly plant-derived’.

    I’m guessing that was about or by Michael Pollan, whose mantra is “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

    Interestingly, I just bought and started reading his latest (In Defense of Food) and Gary Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories around the same time. Hilariously (well, to me), they talk about the exact same studies and many of the exact same problems, yet Pollan concludes we should eat less meat, more plants, and Taubes concludes we should eat fewer plants (at least of the grainy or carby persuasion) and more meat/protein.

    They both say loads of interesting stuff, but I’m getting a little sick of books whose entire premise is, “Everything they’ve been telling you about food for the last 30 years is contradictory and mostly bullshit. You can’t believe a word they say about healthy eating. And now, based on my cherry picking of the studies that resonated with me, I will tell you THE TRUTH about how you must eat!”

  36. I don’t really remember it properly, it was a while ago, but that sounds about right. Mm, the real message is more like ‘everything they’ve been telling you for the last 30 year is contradictory and mostly bullshit fullstop.’ Eating what you want is so gloriously fulfilling in comparison to ‘the rules’.

  37. And I think so much of my lack of intuitive eating was tied up in upbringing. Not that my folks were abusive, but due to plain old practicality I didn’t get to “choose” what I got to eat for dinner growing up (you ate what was put in front of you!).

    Me too – and the same at school, where the fact that you had to eat everything, and sit there all afternoon and finish it if necessary, put me off school lunches for keeps. The school I went to at age 11 had a pay cafeteria, and it was bewildering to realize I could choose what I wanted from the menu for the first time ever. (Some parents actually didn’t approve of that.)

    Now it’s swinging back the other way, it seems – in the name of ‘health’, kids are no longer allowed to simply have likes and dislikes. I’d love to see how, if at all, anyone could implement intuitive eating in schools – at least as an adult at work, if I don’t feel hungry at lunchtime but want something mid-afternoon instead, I can do that, but a child at school wouldn’t be allowed.

    One of the things I find refreshing about the intuitive eating concept is that it acknowledges that you can be hungry for a particular food, rather than just generally ‘hungry’. It’s an old parental trick, I’m told by people I’ve known with kids – if you say you want a cookie and you’re not satisfied when Mom offers you an apple, you can’t really be hungry. Implication being, if you were really hungry you’d eat anything regardless of whether you like it or not. The fact that I’ve come across diet authors using this one says a lot about how they view their readers. And they should try traveling with me – I am not nice to be with when we’ve driven along an entire motorway where not one food outlet has any sandwich that doesn’t contain mayo (which I’m not eating no matter how hungry I am, because it makes me gag).

    Anyway. Today involved a couple of snacks of Irish soda bread, which I love, with respectively, goat’s cheese, raspberry jelly and peanut butter. Then this evening, a brief discussion on using up leftover whatever from the fridge, followed by a decision on veggie curry and naans. Oh, and a glass of orange juice while cooking for no other reason than I saw it there and wanted some all of a sudden. The annoying thing is that hubby and I are both feeling vague cakey type feelings right now, but it’s just gone ten on a Sunday night and everything’s closed. They’re vague enough that I’m not about to worry about it, though.

  38. Being terrified of certain foods (unless your body actually reacts poorly to them) and ascribing imaginary virtue to others is a recipe for an unbalanced diet. Thinking only in terms of how many calories you’re consuming in a given day is, too. Ditto letting yourself get so hungry you’re well past the point of hearing anything from your body other than “FOOD. LOTS. NOW.”

    Yeah it took me years to realize that my body was reacting poorly to pork in any form or fashion. As soon as I stopped eating it and started listening to what I really wanted to eat, I found that my body responded differently all together to food. I also stopped having hang-ups about eating what I wanted to eat. Last night for instance dinner was a pint of Hageen Dazs and I wanted it. I didn’t eat anything else because that filled me up completely.

  39. I get the mental YOU JUST ATE. YOU COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE HUNGRY all the time, usually around noon, on days when I didn’t eat breakfast. I will sit there an mentally beat myself up for being “such a pig” for an hour or more before I realize that I didn’t just eat, and that I probably didn’t eat dinner the night before either! Eating isn’t as much of a problem for me as getting over the inner “mom” who wants to berate me for my hunger.

    Dangit, now I want tilapia. I never crave any types of foods except for once a week I want a nice piece of fish.

  40. I’m having a weird time right now because I have a change to my normal eating patterns. My doctor put me on a medication which I take first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and I can’t eat for an hour (and can’t take my vitamins for 4 hours) after. That first hour, with just the coffee, leaves me starving! It took me two years to start eating breakfast regularly, so this may knock me back into “no brekkies” territory.

    Also, put me in the “finish your plate, missy!” category. My husband is constantly reminding me, “if you don’t like it or want it, don’t eat it”. I still have a problem leaving food on a plate in public. “Don’t let it go to waste!” totally rings loudly in my head.

  41. I’m getting a little sick of books whose entire premise is, “Everything they’ve been telling you about food for the last 30 years is contradictory and mostly bullshit. You can’t believe a word they say about healthy eating. And now, based on my cherry picking of the studies that resonated with me, I will tell you THE TRUTH about how you must eat!”

    Funny how people think that *their* answer is the right one for everbodyeverywhere, innit?

  42. kate, you are always so bang on that you totally crack my shit up!

    Let me see…I had a bowl of beef vegetable soup for breakfast (really, for breakfast), and just finished a lunch that consisted of an apple and about half a dozen crackers smeared with peanut butter. I wonder if my body is becoming not just intuitive, but psychic? In my head, I know I’m going to a pot luck tonight and I want to sample everything, and my body seems to be making sure there’s room in my belly for me to sample everything! Heh.

  43. Great post, Kate. :)

    For me, aside from trying to retrain myself not to judge food in moral terms (this is ‘good’, that’s ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’, etc), I’ve recently had to realise that sometimes intuitive eating doesn’t work in the way I think it should.

    For instance, I have a variety of minor health problems; coeliac disease, IBS, minor hormone imbalance; and they effect my hunger quite dramatically. Yesterday I ate 4 pieces of toast around 8am because that’s what I REALLY wanted, and then ate nothing all day. I didn’t want ANYTHING. And, sure enough, due to my health issues, that led to hypoglycaemia and therefore nausea, headaches, tiredness, etc. I had to force myself to eat dinner, and then I felt much better.

    So, for me, it’s sort of a cross between intuitive eating and knowing when I need to eat *despite* what my body (or stomach, to be more precise) is telling me. Or maybe that’s part of intuitive eating? Just not so obviously?

    That’s tough sometimes. I think I’m starting to get there, though.

    The really nice thing is that I don’t often binge eat any more, and I now know very clearly what causes me to reach for a lot of food all at once. When I do binge now, it’s no where near as bad as it used to be (i.e. I don’t throw up afterwards, or lie in bed feeling horribly bloated, ashamed, and nauseous). Plus, I don’t see it as a huge moral failing any more. I have a lot of shit happening in my personal life and a lot of people I care about are leaning on me, and so sometimes I get all those old desires and cravings for comfort in the form of eating. I’m human. It happens. We all have our crutches. As long as I don’t let it *control* me, I will be okay.

  44. Intuitive eating is truly this complex…I think there’s always something we can learn about what our bodies are telling us. The other day I was in my car craving fast food, and I realized–no way–that it wasn’t that I wanted fast food, it was that I wanted yummy yum stuff to fill my tummy fast because I hadn’t taken the time to eat that day. And fast food seemed like the quickest route. But I didn’t eat fast food because I realized it wasn’t that much longer to get home and make something yummy. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have eaten the fast food, I just realized I had more options for yummy food, fast than my initial stomach to brain sensation indicated.

    Yesterday me and the bf made an incredible eggplant pizza. Today we had whole wheat spaghetti with seasoned turkey meatballs. Later I found myself craving chocolate, so I made home-made hot cocoa, and it was just what I wanted.

  45. Ok. I just had to share this. I am reading email at the kitchen table, and my bf is making dinner.

    me: what are you making?
    him: food.
    me: what kind of food?
    him: edible food.

    I laughed hysterically. It seems like all of you have somehow infiltrated his brain, too!

  46. fatgirlonabike, I’m also in a rural area and have the same problems. There’s a small supermarket, but their vegetables are revolting, so I have to drive (an hour each way) once a week to buy fresh vegetables. I’ve found that if I getgood vegies, even after 6 days they’re still better quality than buying something “fresh” from the supermarket. Fortunately, there is a really good butcher here, but you’re really making me crave kebab – it’d be four hours away for me, but at least I wouldn’t be arrested for wanting Middle Eastern food. I’d just be asked “does that taste a bit overseas?” again!

  47. This is really helpful. My mother is Portuguese and does advocate what could be called ‘intuitive eating’ sometimes, but finds it hard to stick to. I grew up seeing her often eating too much of whatever she craved because as her body wanted it now, she felt justified in eating it and felt she had to have as much as possible while she was ‘allowed’. This means it’s hard not to think ‘Oh it’s just ‘an excuse’ to eat to much of something ‘bad’.’ I really hate those thoughts now, it’s just rediculous.

    Being a student does mean finances make it harder to eat what I want, along with not being near a supermarket meaning I need to overplan things. I’m working on it though.

  48. I remember once when i took somekind of wierdo quiz on the internet as a cure for boredom(think it was called ‘are you healthy?’ on tickle or something.) and I answered all these questions truthfully, and it said that my diet was very healthy .. it made me think again about all times ive felt bad about eating stuff – hey, my diet has all the needed food groups and im not lacking anything! EVEN THAT COOKIE IS ALLOWED.

    I generally buy stuff that is ‘healthy’, and only occasionally buy things that are high in those ‘evil evil’ saturated fats – because thats what my tastebuds say YES YES YES too. I go through times when i want everything as greasy as possible, but generally after i really just want yummy light foods and even the sight of bread makes me gag.

    I think im lucky in saying i’ve never really had a true problem with my eating. The one time I lost weight was when I was depressed at my first year at uni, and i just existed on toast, because i was too distracted to buy food (and too far from late night shops that sold stuff i WANTED instead of tinned, salty stuff that just makes me feel sick). I lost about 15lbs, and ive put it all back on again and a bit, now that im HAPPY and all. and excercising more too. I forget that i was a miserable sod when i was ‘a good weight’ from time to time, and the general ‘WHAI CANT AI BE THINNN’ kicks in occasionally. But i beat it down with a blueberry and oat cookie. and a fiancé who likes me better NOW than when i was thinner.

    oh god, blueberry and oat coookieeee…….

    oh god, fiancé…….

  49. Wow that India Knight article really put a hole in my Sanity Watcher’s points for the week. I’ll have to read extra fatosphere posts to make up the points.

    I’ve been struggling with intuitive eating a lot. But I”m trying, I just suck at keeping food in the house so I always end up ordering some crap I don’t want. Anyway I went to Weber Grill on friday and gorged myself on BBQ and chocolate cake, and I do not feel even the tinest bit guilty. I would do it all over and over and over again. YUM. And their pretzel rolls? homg.

  50. When I first moved out on my own, I practically lived on ice cream and cookies. I could eat an entire package of Keebler oatmeal cremes at one sitting. I got over that, and then got into the Cambridge diet thing, which fucked up my metabolism forever. When I went off that, I still wasn’t able to eat normally. I’d buy a package of Stella D’oro Breakfast Treats and think that eating the whole package of that was better than eating a whole package of oatmeal cremes.

    Today I am bigger than I’ve ever been, but I’m eating more normally than I ever have. I’ve changed the way I cook so that I make more vegetables, I prefer whole wheat pasta to bland semolina-type. I hate white bread. On the rare occasions when I want a rich dessert, I’ll have one and eat it only till I’ve had enough. But frankly, my idea of a perfect dessert is a really fantastic cookie. And a really good cookie, like really good chocolate, doesn’t set you off.

    Recently I started keeping some good dark chocolate in the office for when I wanted a treat. And sure enough, a square of that is all I want. One time recently I had a piece of the junky commercial chocolate that someone in the office always has a bowl of — and while it didn’t taste good, I wanted MORE!! Scary.

    Most of us have been so conditioned to brand ourselves as “good” or “bad” based on what we put in our mouths that turning food — even good, tasty food…even eggplant parmigiana, which I made tonight with baked breaded eggplant and 2% mozzarella and it was just as good — into something that’s morally neutral is almost a lifelong learning process.

  51. Last year an internet friend encouraged fat women to keep a log of what they ate. No changing what you eat to make it palatable to the public or to make it seem like you eat “good” food. Just “what I ate.” (n.b. you need to go back to Nov 2006 to see relevant entries, the current person posting a lot doesn’t get what this was all about).

    I did this as well here and it was interesting to get people’s reactions. One day two different people said they were surprised I ate so little and my instant reaction was “What? Are you saying I should be stuffing my face because I’m fat?” Then I realized that actually ate less than normal that day because I wasn’t very hungry.

    It was interesting for to see that despite me talking about how it’s OK to eat whatever my body wants, I did get nervous/embarassed writing some things out.

  52. Kate – How funny, I just got those same two books in the mail from Amazon.

    I personally can’t put Taubes book down. I’m reading it the way I read a lot of non-fiction though — starting with the chapters I’m most interested in.

    With Taubes, I started with the epilogue, because I wanted to know what his conclusions were before reading anything else. And while it’s true he’s suggesting fewer carbs, I think for the most part he means processed carbs, such as bread, cereals and pretzels.

    I’ve read about four chapters so far, but have to confess that I’m really looking for answers to my own questions about hormones and weight. So his breakdown of the research is interesting to me regardless of the recommendations he makes there at the end. Lots of fascinating stuff I never realized about the history of obesity research.

    Haven’t started Pollan’s book yet, but I ate exactly the way he suggests for about 20 YEARS and still gained weight. So go figure.

    Anyway, good luck with the intuitive eating. I’ve carried that to an extreme in my own way, having things like wild raw honey shipped to the house. It’s great fun, and very rewarding. Looking forward to further progress reports.

  53. For me, intuitive eating also includes permission to eat at ‘non-traditional’ meal times. I came from a breakfast at 7, lunch at 12:30, dinner at 6 upbringing, and heaven help you if you wanted your meal at a different time – it wasn’t going to happen.

    Now, when I really switch in and listen, I often find that breakfast is 9:30, and doesn’t want food again until 2-2:30. And that’s not so ravenously hungry that I am reaching for the can of Crisco*, either. I am also at the stage with IE that I can tell when I’m thirsty rather than hungry, which is a bit of a revelation in itself.

    *dittoing Kate

  54. Recently I started keeping some good dark chocolate in the office for when I wanted a treat. And sure enough, a square of that is all I want. One time recently I had a piece of the junky commercial chocolate that someone in the office always has a bowl of — and while it didn’t taste good, I wanted MORE!!

    I’ve noticed the same thing about chocolate – I don’t know what it is, except I’ve hypothesized that I keep eating the commercial stuff because I’m trying to get the chocolateness out of it and it’s just not there the way it is in the really good stuff.

  55. Amen! I’ve been intuitive eating for a long time. I was influenced by reading about different indigenous cultures and their beliefs and practices. Most believe that your body will “tell” you what it needs. I truly believe that. For example: when I have my period I crave protein. I’m talking red meat, baby! (Which makes sense since l’m losing protein by bleeding. Or in the winter I crave more soups, stews, root veggies, and higher fat foods. (Because you need the extra nourishment for cold.) In the summer, most want are veggies and fruits. (It’s too hot for the heavy soups and stews, and veggies and fruits have a higher water content.)

    And like people have said, denying yourself what you want isn’t doing you any good. I think all it does is make you crazy and stressed out. Since I like to avoid stress, I’ll eat what I want when I’m hungry, dammit. ;)

    Great article again Kate!

  56. Great post. The past few days I’ve been refuting certain things here and there – things about desserts (I rarely eat them, or many sweets) and not eating pasta at night, and cake, and all sorts of things people use as diet tips. My remarks kept saying “But I don’t eat that, or at least very little of it.” And I started wondering, well what the hell DO I eat? Because I’m pretty sure I do. The answer really is “food.”

    Funny about the hot dogs – I had a job for a few months, my last job, and every day when I’d go in (it was a late start) I stopped at the hot dog stand and got two plain dogs with mustard. By the time I got there I was hungry, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat again for 10 hours usually, and those two dogs would keep me from being hungry during that entire time. And they were good! I actually craved them every day. So I had two hot dogs a day for a couple months (blush.) And then a late supper (usually some pasta.) So it wasn’t very varied for a while. Now I have a little more time and am enjoying plenty of salad – in fact it’s practically all I’m eating. Over the course of time it ends up being varied lol. But that’s honestly what I want right now most of the time. Guess I probably need it.

    Though I did have a few sips of the malted milkshake I made for my daughter, who I’m trying to refeed right now. Mmmm. Malted.

  57. I was making real progress with the intuitive eating before my accident. Now that I’ve been in the hospital for almost a month and I’m forced to choose my food a day ahead of time and I can only eat when they bring it to me, (or have it sit there getting cold until I’m ready for it) it’s very frustrating. I have no idea what I’m going to want tomorrow. So I just try to order a variety and I keep snacks stashed.

    The biggest problem here is that there is almost no cheese. Cottage cheese is about as close as it gets. I love cheese. I miss cheese. I think I’ll ask my husband to bring me some cheese tomorrow.

  58. I have intuitively been learning that I will often eat until I’m feeling sort of grody (really overeating, as opposed to diet overeating) from a big bag of chips or candies or whatever. The moment of “okay, I’m done” feels like deprivation even if it really isn’t.

    My solution used to be a total ban on non-diet friendly food. Which, unfortunately, demonizes the carrot and celery stick snacks – and I LIKE those things.

    Now I’m just serving myself a smaller bit, and going back for seconds if I want to, and the deprivation brain has disappeared. If I never want deprivation brain again, unless I’m actually for real starving.

    I’ve been really poor in my life and frustrated with choices, but I’ve found that self-imposed deprivation brain (you MAY not) feels different than externally-imposed deprivation (you CAN not). Do other Shapelings have that sort of distinction?

    That brain space is its own special circle of hell for me. One of the things I’ve felt most validated by in these discussions is hearing that other survivors of dieting have similar experiences, whereas somehow it always looked like other people were dieting with very little effort and slipping off because of social cues.

  59. I love cheese. I miss cheese. I think I’ll ask my husband to bring me some cheese tomorrow.

    I hear you on the cheese. My husband just brought home a lump of Burrata cheese, which I’d never had before. It’s a ball of fresh mozzarella stuffed with a mixture of cream and mozzarella … Amazing! Sorry it’s OT but I had to share the joy …

  60. I.Love.Food.

    I eat when I’m hungry; I sleep when I’m tired. It’s that easy for me (self employed/ flex schedule). Sometimes I crave fruit and veggies, sometimes I want CHEESE and chocolate and steak. Whatever. I get my five squares a day (doctor’s orders! Yay!) and I figure that in a week’s time, I get everything I need. I don’t have rickets or scurvy – must be doin’ something right!

  61. buttercup, I feel for you there. I had a hospital stay a few years ago, but food-wise it was absolutely wonderful – basically you had a couple hour window for each meal, and you had a menu with many choices on it, and ordered what you wanted when you wanted it. It was like room service! Considering I’d not been able to keep any solid food down for practically a year prior (but was finally able to eat again once I was being treated) it was fantastic. And the food was *good.* Other hospitals are just like you say – a day ahead, and when they bring it only. In those cases, it’s essential to send a spouse or relative out for things! Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  62. I read several books on Intuitive Eating about two years ago. I had done a stint on WW that left me an obsessive compulsive point counter that was now much HEAVIER. I was already a binge eater and an emotional eater, and that sent me over the edge. Reading those books helped me to stop binge eating. Thank God. I definitely need to get more in tune with what my body needs. I’ve been too busy to listen to it.

    Thank you for writing this article.

  63. Louise, I’d like to say that whether it “works” depends on what you want. If you want a well-nourished body, intuitive eating does indeed work. If you “want your figure back” then it won’t work. The thing with intuitive eating is most people don’t do so much emotional eating – oh sure, everyone does some, but when you stop being afraid that you won’t have food when you want it, or that you will still be hungry after your meager Weight Watchers portions, or that you won’t be able to eat something you enjoy, and start eating to satisfy – many people tend to do some overeating at first, and then they just…drift off from it.

    But like I say, it’s a matter of what you’re looking for; if it’s weight loss, you may or may not get that from intuitive eating. What you’ll generally end up with is a better-nourished body, which, incidentally, leads to clearer and more rational thinking and fewer emotional rollercoasters that lead to emotional eating.

  64. Louise, I was where you are two years ago: feeling overweight and unsure what my body was telling me at any given moment. In fact, I was the actual stereotype all fat people get branded with: I was the depressed woman sitting on the couch all day comfort eating junk food and never moving.

    It was hard to start IE. I didn’t even have a name for it then. All I knew was I had to find a new way to live, and the usual restrictive diets weren’t going to work for me. I decided no food was forbidden and eating when I was hungry would be a major key.

    The trouble was, I was so out of touch with my body that I didn’t know what it was asking for most of the time.

    I decided that if I felt hungry between meals, I would test myself to see how hungry I actually was. If I was between meals and suddenly started wanting potato chips or chocolate, or even a piece of fruit, I had a glass of water and watied ten minutes first. If I still wanted to eat, I ate a small amount of whatever I was craving. If I was still hungry ten minutes after I finished that, I got another small serving.

    Two years down the line, I weigh some sixty pounds less that I did when I started IE. IE won’t do that for everyone. If you aren’t that far away from where your body wants to be, you won’t lose you anything near that. The change in eating patterns didn’t do it alone. I also had to start getting actual exercise. But no matter what it does in terms of your weight, it’s going to improve your health if you get in touch with what your body actually needs. It just doesn’t happen overnight.

    It’s a matter of re-learning your body’s language. Now that I speak the same language as my body, I understand what it’s asking for and can treat it properly. The frustration of the learning curve has been well worth the reward.

  65. I realized recently that, in addition to being in somewhat straitened circumstances (as Jane Austen might have put it), I carry with me a subtle, yet fundamental, unease about eating in restaurants. This is rooted in a childhood that was completely devoid of restaurant experiences at all, owing to VERY straitened circumstances (6 brothers and sisters, chronic underemployment with the parents). I did not go to a restaurant until I was 17, and that was on prom night. I still sit with a nagging voice that says, you can’t afford this, you can’t afford this, get out, get out, get out. Same goes for “fancy” food stores (Trader Joes, Balducci’s), and even for certain aisles in regular grocery stores, like the cookies and the soda and the chips. These were all luxuries, and it was drilled in my head that I can’t afford this. And at the same time, I love this stuff. Maybe in part because it was forbidden, but also, and mostly, I have seriously champagne taste. I love the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and Thai food, and posh fizzy limonata in the fancy flip-top bottles, and steak, and pate, and ciabatta, and fresh blueberries, and real butter, and stinky cheese, and nectarines, and real orange juice (not made from concentrate and watered down way too far), and oh god, ALL of it.

    I honor my taste when I can, if someone else is paying or if I have enough to get a little something or the fresh fruit is in season. I buy a piece of stinky cheese a month, and get real orange juice and butter all the time, and that feels pretty good.

    One thing that I started doing recently, to satisfy food desires and to calm my inner voices around money, is learn to make some of the restaurant/fancy food that I crave. I look up the recipe, make it once, have a good success with it (hopefully), make it a bunch of times, both to get the knack AND keep eating it! And then it’s in my repertoire, and I feel so accomplished, as well.

    Like last month, I learned how to make paneer, the Indian soft cheese. I always want to eat the Trader Joe’s Palak Paneer, but damn, that stuff is $4 for a tiny little serving, and it’s always a little too spicy. So I learned to make the cheese, and when I tasted my first all-from-scratch palak paneer, I couldn’t believe it! I made this stuff, I made that paneer! It was so PRIMAL. Tonight I made my third batch in four weeks, and the palak paneer is simmering away on the stove. In 10 minutes I’m going to chow down on a plate of it and feel YUM.

    And then a week ago I decided to make Cuban roast pork. I love that stuff, but even in the neighborhood Cuban restaurant, it’s still $9 for a full dinner, and they NEVER give me enough crispy bits and skin, you know? So I went out and got a pork shoulder (some of the cheapest meat at the market, 99 cents a pound? whoa!), and marinated it in a lime-based marinade for THREE DAYS, and roasted it for seven hours, and when I pulled it out of the oven and my roommate couldn’t stop picking at the still-steaming meat, and then I ate my first piece, still with a savory bit of fat on it, I just danced a little dance right there in the kitchen.

    Who knew culinary self-sufficiency could taste so good?

  66. It’s so weird…

    I think I was born an intuitive eater, fat-accepter (I suppose we all were, really, cause, you know, it takes civilization to fuck that up)…and managed (This is the weird part) to hold on to that all the way through puberty, through high school, even.

    Until my sister became anorexic. And the ensuing family food drama… managed to drive me from complete intuitive eater, who was actually (Even though I was an overweight eighteen year old girl – I never thought I should diet, or even that if I did diet, it would be a good idea) pretty satisfied with myself….

    And so in ten months I went from a person who was pretty happy ignoring stuff I didn’t want, to a person who no longer knew how to ask myself if I was hungry or what the result of hungry/not hungry should be.

    And I’m still working on coming back from that. I’ve got “Am I hungry?” … but the whole what to eat question, if I’m not alone, freaks the living hell out of me. I don’t even know how to begin to think about what I want to eat, with all these different supposed-to’s running around- the things that I can eat without making my tummy hurt; the things that bear the requisite nutritional markers; the things that are cheap; the things that will make my father happy to see me eat; the things that will make my boyfriend happy to see me eat…

    I went out to a great barbeque place a while ago that lets you choose four sides instead of an entree, and I nearly cried.

  67. I’ve always believed that food and sex were very closely related — and i certainly think the IE “method” (if you will) is a hell of a lot safer than having sex all over the place (unless you have a monogamus relationship of course — it’s the ideal I suppose — then again, food doesn’t talk back, scratch, complain, burp fart or in general “get on your nerves” — LOL. )

    That having been said, I don’t know why the media portrays ANOREXIC women as SEXY — because they’re not — and if there is any relationship between food and sex — and I certainly believe there is — there are some HOT MAMAS on this website — you GO GIRLS!!!!

  68. I went out to a great barbeque place a while ago that lets you choose four sides instead of an entree, and I nearly cried.

    OMG, I cannot even tell you how much I love tapas, mezes, and garden variety small plates places. There was an awesome one of the last category in Chicago that closed recently, which the snobby owners blamed on Chicago being a “steak town” — basically implying that we’re a bunch of fatasses with pedestrian tastes.

    Now, granted, we ARE a steak town — and a hot dog town, and a deep dish pizza town — and that’s one of the reasons I feel lucky to be a Chicagoan. But imo, the real reason that restaurant closed is that A) their marketing was an epic fail (word of mouth doesn’t work if you only give it 6 months and don’t get enough people in there), and B) the name, Graze, was fucking stupid. I mean, the concept is cute, but first of all, you don’t want to call to mind cows when you name a restaurant, unless it’s to point out that you serve them. Second, I walked by it eleventy billion times and never went in, because I always glanced at the sign, thought it said, “Grazie,” and assumed it was just another Italian place. So I only ate there once, right before it closed. Grrrr.

    Aaaanyway. Point being, sometimes, being able to have 2 bites of several different things is exactly what I want, and I love places like that because of it.

  69. I love the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and Thai food, and posh fizzy limonata in the fancy flip-top bottles, and steak, and pate, and ciabatta, and fresh blueberries, and real butter, and stinky cheese, and nectarines, and real orange juice (not made from concentrate and watered down way too far), and oh god, ALL of it.

    I don’t doubt your issues about being able to afford food like you mentioned, but I’ll bet it’s ultimately more satisfying to your body because it’s food in it’s more …. wholesome, natural, organic state … So,not so many chemicals, lots more nutrients. So stinky cheese might satisfy you more than cheese-whiz, steak more than steak-ums etc.

  70. And congrats on your cooking BTW — I just started doing it a few years ago (I don’t know what the hell I ate when I lived in the sticks AND didn’t cook … generic raisin bran?)

    And when I read your post Kate, I totally read it as “Grazie” and wondered “What the hell does that have to do with cows?” LOL

  71. I have been thinking about this post for a while, and I think it’s a little complicated for me as someone who has type 2 diabetes. I think there are foods (or combinations) that are going to suit me fine in finite amounts, so my best strategy so far as intuitive eating goes is to keep myself satsified and allow cravings to be satisfied quickly so they don’t build into something that requires a large amount of sugar or carbs to fulfill.
    I fully believe that even if an illness complicates intuitive eating to some degree, that the basic principles of responding to your body’s requests, needs and desires is very sound.
    My weight and blood sugar (and blood pressure and cholesterol) have all been stable for a while, even when I go through days that include cookies or cake or chocolate, or days when I’m not very hungry and don’t eat much at all. I love most food, but lately, a smaller amount seems to satisfy me, and what works well about that is that when I do want something sweet, there’s room for it. Other than diet sodas and sugar-free flavors in my latte, I don’t use much in the way of artificial sweeteners, which is a big change for me, as I used to rely on larger amounts of “fake foods.”
    I used to get annoyed when people would talk about intuitive eating thinking that because I have diabetes (and have for nearly 15 years), it couldn’t apply to me, but I’m happy to say that I think I’m engaging in intuitive eating and continuing to do it more and more.
    I sometimes also need to hang out in the bakery section of the grocery story (was that fillyjonk?) and let myself know I could have anything, but it’s been a while now since I bought a slice of grocery store cake, ’cause I know it’s not going to taste all that good. The cake I bake at home is going to taste much better.

  72. Suzanne: re wholesome, organic state.

    Maybe for some people that’s true, and for some foods in my life it’s true (fruits in particular), but in the “I can’t afford it” scheme of things, virulently orange-colored cheesey poofs weigh almost the same as a wedge of 2-year-old Gouda. And Ben and Jerry’s, while consisting mostly of pronounceable ingredients, isn’t exactly milk.

    That said, at this point in my life, I definitely am drawn more to flavors, and since I’m the one in control of the checkbook, I get to decide where I invest the food dollars, all throughout the taste/convenience/cost matrices.

    Oh, and actually? I’ve never been a fan of cheese-whiz, and I don’t know even know what steak-ums are. What are they?

  73. After reading this post, I was like, “hey, I’m hungry!” and proceeded to make myself whatever the hell sounded good, which ended up being a giant bowl of shelled edamame (why is that stuff so good?), then rice, onion, egg and some soy sauce. Hey! I made fried rice? Damn, this shit is good.

  74. “Aaaanyway. Point being, sometimes, being able to have 2 bites of several different things is exactly what I want, and I love places like that because of it.”

    Kate, my husband (and daughter) loves to tease me about that, because my ultimate meal is almost always a couple bites of this and a couple of that. If I ever get the chance to dine in a real, awesome, gourmet restaurant, my dream is to get a tasting menu (when I heard there was such a thing I was thrilled!) I brought my daughter some rice pudding yesterday (I’m trying to refeed her) and told her I just wanted a little – when I saw she hadn’t finished it, I was like “Hey, go ahead and eat that!” She had left it because I wanted some…all I wanted was a taste. And I took a small taste before she started lol. That was all I needed. (Er, she did finish it :) ) Considering that many times I have no idea what I really want to eat, a taste of lots of different things is often just the ticket.

  75. You know, I just realized that I prefer to eat pretty much the same thing day after day, for kind of a weird reason. I think this also relates to why I always get anxious when I hear the traditional dieting advice to eat 6 small meals a day, or eat every 3 hours, or whatever. Anyway, here’s why it is–there are just too many choices out there. It’s a lot easier to choose from, I don’t know, 20 foods that I have on hand, and 2 or 3 items on a given restaurant menu that I know I like, than it is to open my mind to consider the infinite other food options that are out there, and ask myself which of those options I might like. It’s easier to just ignore all those other foods and eat the stuff I always eat, which I do enjoy so it’s not like I’m forcing it down, and that way I don’t have to think about the bewildering array of foods I could be choosing from.

    There is some dieting stuff going on there too, for sure. But even when I’m not dieting, and seeking to eat intuitively, I actively dislike the aspect of IE that “requires” (though I know nothing is really required) you to fine-tune what you want. It strikes me as an anxiety-provoking, energy-intensive hassle, just as if I were on a diet and feeling obligated to eat multiple small meals a day, I would feel even more obsessed with food than usual because I had to think about it so often. Perhaps as strong as that is a sort of weird feeling of despair that there is so much variety out there that I’ll never in my lifetime be able to try all the good things I might crave when I’m hungry, which for some reason depresses me.

    (Note, we’re not talking like I only eat 5 foods total and I’m in danger of getting scurvy or anything. I usually eat a good amount of fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean protein and blah blah blah. I’m even kind of a food snob and I make a lot of “healthy,” sort of complicated and highly spiced recipes and don’t eat convenience foods much and so on. There are just a lot of permutations of food that I don’t usually think about or consider eating.)

    Anyway, this may be just me, and I’m not sure what it’s going to do for me to have this awareness, but it was interesting to me to come to this realization upon reading this post and re-reading the compulsive eating post.

  76. Sorry, bigmovesbabe if I came across as offensive in any way … I grew up with not a lot of money and never ate out in good restaurants until I was an adult and I didn’t have access to lots of foods until I moved to a big multi-culti city. It was a revelation to me (what a lot of people know already) that the combination of a few simple quality ingredients can taste amazing, though that’s not to say that complex isn’t delicious too. I thought that’s what you were saying sort of with your list of things you crave. I was raised with stuff like cheese-whiz and other imitation convenience foods (“steak-ums” was a frozen sliced steak product with which one could fry up and make a Philly cheesesteak type sandwich), but my palate has shifted so far from it that I don’t think it would taste good to me now.

  77. Steak-Ums, I believe, are chopped-and-formed meat, sort of like chicken nuggets, then sliced. They’re pretty greasy, too. (Heartburn, and not too good tasting to me. I prefer minute steaks sliced from whole meat at the butcher if I want minute steak.) As a kid/young adult I liked stuff like Steak-Ums or cheez whiz, but I find as an adult whole foods just taste better and make me feel better. Such as a grilled cheese made with Jarlsberg or Gruyere on top of my french onion soup. I also find it’s practically just as easy to make up some beef stroganoff with chuck meat and mushrooms as it is to make – ergg – Hamburger Helper. Or boil up a pot of chicken soup from scratch, then throw in what I want over the next couple days. When you want a beef style gravy in roast beef or stroganoff, or chili, let me just add that the “Better than Bouillon Organic Beef” flavor is wonderful. (Never had luck making strong beef stock on my own.)

  78. Uh, a word about pot. I’ve quit it recently, and it’s quite impressive how my eating habits have changed . I’m almost indifferent, at least now, in the beginning. I still eat, obviously, but after eating for 10+ years eating like I was stoned, (because I was stoned) I’m just very unenthusiastic about it. I was just reading recently about how a company tried to make a weight loss drug that would bind the cannabanoid receptors (eating pleasure receptors), and when it went into clinical trials, it did cause weight loss, but also caused depression and suicidal behavior, etc. That’s not going to go over so well, though I believe that I’ve recently been hearing similar stuff about a drug that aids in nicotine withdrawal.

  79. Like last month, I learned how to make paneer, the Indian soft cheese. I always want to eat the Trader Joe’s Palak Paneer, but damn, that stuff is $4 for a tiny little serving, and it’s always a little too spicy.

    Yeah, it seems like they overload that stuff with hot pepper and don’t include enough of other Indian spices, like the “C spices” (cardamom, coriander, cumin). Love TJ’s, love Indian food, but the stuff in the foil pouches just does not work for me. So yeah, learning how to make my own might be a good idea. (We’re going to try growing our own peas this summer, so that would be a great combination!)

  80. spacedcowgirl, I don’t think you have to think about every possible permutation or examine the entire culinary spectrum whenever you’re hungry in order to eat intuitively. If the 20 or so foods you mentioned are what you like and what you want, then it sounds like you’ve found a really good solution for you. I don’t think there’s only one way to eat intuitively.

    Part of what I’ve done to reduce my own anxiety is give myself permission to be wrong. I used to feel like I wasted an opportunity to eat something good when I ended up eating something that it turned out I didn’t want. I’ve worked at reframing it into “wow, there’s a data point about what doesn’t work, I can remember that next time”.

    And after reading about all the wonderful foods here, I’m so glad I made a great dinner of chicken in lemon and egg sauce and roasted cauliflower, or I’d be hungry again!

  81. TropicalChrome, I see your point. Also part of the pitfall of Intuitive Eating for me is that in the past I have let some OCD compulsions rule my practice of it, such that it ended up not “working” the way I was doing it. But others here have pointed out that sort of pure-Geneen-Roth, carrying around baggies of stuff in case you might want it, is not practical for many people anyway. So I guess there is no reason to assume that not wanting to consider all the options in the world at all times is “wrong,” or means that IE is out of the question for me.

    Hmm. It gets really complicated. Believe it or not I have been aware of these types of philosophies for years, and have tried IE off and on for just as long, and I have never found the balance that works for me. It is frustrating.

    And no matter how many times I look at someone’s rundown of what they ate today, I can’t stop going “I eat more than that… I would never forget to eat breakfast… I am such a pig.” I HATE it. Waaah.

  82. TropicalChrome, I like your “permission to be wrong” approach. I often get into a headspace where I’m thinking that the meal I’m going to eat (or snack) has to perfectly satisfy me — and that’s not realistic or tenable for every single bite of food I put in my mouth. Sometimes, it’s just got to be a mediocre bite of wheat toast with cheese because I know breakfast is better than no breakfast for me (especially since I need to take my medication with food). So giving myself permission to not do intuitive eating perfectly helps tremendously.

  83. SCG, TC, WRT2 —
    I’m totally new to intuitive eating, but I have been assuming it’s more about de-stressing ourselves about our nourishment and making our relationship to food healthier.

    But just like I’m sure we all have different relationship styles and we couldn’t and wouldn’t want to live each other’s relationships with our partners or families or friends, I don’t think there’s a one size fits all relationship with food.

    One of my (thinner) friends has a set menu every week; she doesn’t like a whole lot of food, and she finds deciding very stressful, and she gets hypoglycemic sometimes and needs to know what’s coming next. So she’s got it all figured out ahead of time. That seems to make perfect sense for her, and she’s not stressed about food because she’s got a system that works for her.

  84. Though it does use the evaluative terms “Good” and “Poor” for the total score, the Food Variety Checklist from Nutrition Australia is perhaps the most sensible eating approach I’ve ever seen out of the nutrition advice industry.

    As well as being kinda fun, it puts all the emphasis on diversity of food, rather than on counting calories or fat, or labelling certain types of foods as good or bad.

    I have an unsupported suspicion that food diversity may well be a marker for intuive eating. (In the absense of multiple allergies and in a situation where diverse foods are practically available.)

    I think the goal of 30 different foods a day is a bit much, but easily make 32-36 a week.

    I don’t recommend the rest of the site particularly.

  85. Arwen, I agree with you – I understand intuitive eating to be eating in accordance with what works for your body, and since each body has different requirements and each person is different, people are going to approach it differently. And as long as they’re meeting their needs (nutritional, social, whatever else they require from how they eat), it’s all good.

  86. I do something very similar to Arwen’s friend, for much the same reason. I do like a variety of food, but doing it week by week is fine – I rarely get bored within a week. (Spinach and provolone omelets with red pepper sauce for breakfast and heroin chicken and buttersteamed ginger carrots for dinner this week, in case anyone’s interested. ;-) I precook as much as practical one day a week, and it avoids the pattern where I let myself get too hungry because I’m putting off the work of cooking, until I reach the point at which I eat anything in sight (usually something I don’t want) because my cells are demanding FOOD NOW, DAMN IT! and it’s handy. This lets actual protein and veggies be “handy”, so I eat when I start getting hungry instead of three hours later.

  87. >>I had done a stint on WW that left me an obsessive compulsive point counter…

    I was in the same boat! I was happy to read this post– it’s exactly what I believe in. Stop the compulsion, listen to yourself and what your body wants, and enjoy!

  88. Kate, your post here was confirmed this morning by my daughter’s favourite nutrition expert, who said:

    “Me promise that when you eat varied menu,
    You get more out of every meal. ”

    Here’s the wider context- and while he kept saying ‘healthy food’, the visuals clearly indicated “diverse and varied diet.”

    (Between reading you, and watching her, I’m slowly learning about giving my body what it needs, when it needs it. Thanks for that)

  89. pumpkin ravioli with sage and dates in brown butter sauce

    Holy crap on a cracker, every foodie radar in my head just went sproing . That sounds amazing!

    I’ve been struggling with the intuitive eating, mostly because I’m trying to sort the “this is what my body wants” from the binge reflex that wants everything that I’ve denied myself on 12 years of dieting, “just in case I’ll never be able to have it again.” I think my body still doesn’t quite trust me yet after that much abuse, and is still trying to overcompensate. Thanks for your insight!

  90. Wonderful post, if you flit back and forth between your post and India Knight’s the difference is striking. Yours is humane, interesting and thougtful hers is angry, reductive and judgemental, which one do we want to live?

    As eating is obviously central to our lives, no wonder people fear IE, what if it all went to far, say Intuitive living? Woah, people might try and please themselves and not be cowered by self-hate or something, WE CAN’T HAVE THAT CAN WE?

  91. PANEER: delicious alchemy on YOUR stovetop

    (I got this recipe from a foodie blog, but now I can’t find it again…)

    2 quarts milk
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    cheesecloth (this sort of recipe is why it’s CALLED cheesecloth, and not “flimsy see-through cotton”)

    Heat up the milk on the stove until it boils or froths up. Then add the lemon juice and stir. Look there, see? Cheese curds! Stir for a couple of minutes to make sure the lemon juice has gotten everywhere, then let it sit for 7 or 8 minutes while you line a strainer with a double-thickness of cheesecloth. If you want to save the whey (I can’t figure out what it’s good for, I think people add it to protein drinks, yuck), set the strainer in a big bowl. Otherwise set the strainer in a clean sink. Ladle out the curds into that strainer and let rest until the curds are cool enough to touch (10-15 minutes). Then gather up the cheese curds in the cheesecloth and squeeze out the extra whey (see note below).

    Place the cheesecloth on a big plate and open the cloth. Use your hands to press the cheese into a disk about 1/2-inch thick, push the runaway curds on the edge into the mass, then cover it again with the cheesecloth, put another plate on top and then put the heaviest thing you can find on top. Let that rest for another 3-4 hours. Then unwrap and voila! Paneer! One recipe I have for palak/saag paneer says to fry the cheese first, but that is a delicate process involving much oil that I don’t like to waste. Last night’s paneer was added plain to the spinach, and it was just fine.

    Here are two working hypotheses that I have found after three times making this recipe:
    – The more you stir the milk down when heating it, the longer it will take to boil, and the harder your curds will be.
    – The more whey you squeeze out, past a certain point, the less your cheese will stick together.

    The first time I made it, I didn’t watch the milk very closely, so it boiled up and over the edge of the pot without me stirring it at all. This batch was soft, almost like ricotta, a little fluffy, definitely delicate. Could have been used for dessert purposes, easily.

    The second batch I kept stirring down (to make sure it didn’t boil over, see?). But then it took forever and the burned milk on the bottom affected the flavor a little. And the curds were very firm. I tried adding a little salt and kneading the curds together before patting them into shape, and hey! I ended up with something almost like mozzerella (except it didn’t melt).

    Last night’s batch, was only stirred down once, and it was middle of the hard spectrum.

    The finished paneer is obviously good in Indian foods, but I think a very soft paneer could be drizzled with honey or fruits or used in a cheesecake, even. I crumbled some paneer into an omelette with sun-dried tomatoes and a touch of parmesan and onion, and it was also good.

    Kate, you may need a recipe thread. Sorry for hijacking this one!

  92. By the way, can anyone recommend a book or website about IE that doesn’t push it as a weight-loss method? I’d really like to invest in some research, but I’d rather not be bombarded with claims of IE as an easy miracle cure to rid the world of fat people, crime and global conflict.

  93. I’ve been an intuitive eater for a few years now, and I’ve discovered the same wonderful thing that you have: I eat more balanced meals more often this way. Yes, sometimes that means that I have the burger from Chili’s with the extra-thick cut bacon and the three cheeses on it, like I did last week. Sometimes it means I’ll wind up getting a big bowl of hot and sour soup for lunch at the Chinese restaurant near where I work. But more often than not, it means that I wind up making meals at home like the one I cooked yesterday: pasta with sundried tomato pesto and grilled chicken breasts, with steamed brussels sprouts on the side with almond slivers. YUM!

    There’s one thing that puzzles me, though. If size 20 fatties like me “aren’t supposed” to eat a bacon cheeseburger in a restaurant, merely because I’m a nastynasty fattie, and all the thin people are supposedly eating super-healthy and exercising – therefore not ordering the baconburger – then to whom, exactly, is the triple-thick-cut, three-cheeses burger being marketed? If I eat it, it’s a moral failing, thus I shouldn’t. “They” would not ever eat it because it’s bad for them and they never eat ‘naughty’ foods, thus keeping them svelte and trim. If these are truisms, who is it for? I’m still scratching my head over that one.

  94. cake-guzzling carb-and-sugar-laden West
    (at india’s article)

    How do you guzzle cake?
    Carb-and-sugar laden? *happy gasp* Does that mean I can EAT my CHAIR!?!?!? I’ve been looking for an excuse to get a new one!

  95. Wow, that India Knight article actually made me feel sick. Now I get what I’ve read here about ‘dieters’ being the worst kind of fat-haters. I’ve seen that said here, but never really ‘got’ it, because I’m a ‘dieter’ according to your definitions and yet my attitude is so far away from hers we’re light years apart.

    (Incidentally, her article is also full of errors. Yes, there are many obese populations outside of ‘rich Western McDonalds guzzling folk’. Read Gary Taubes’ book ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ for pages of information on obese third-world populations.)

    I think intuitive eating is great. I wish I could do it myself. The thing is, that my insulin response to carbs is so strong that if I do eat ‘white’ foods I really will want nothing but those until I feel sick. Staying away from them most of the time makes my appetite normal, my choices ‘real’ even if they are ‘limited’. And when I feel like it, occasionally, I do eat higher carb without guilt, because I know that there is no reason to feel *guilt* for eating that way, if I have chosen to want to deal with the repercussions for my own digestive system… it is not a moral failing because, brilliant phrasing, thank you, eating is a morally neutral act!!!

  96. “How do you guzzle cake?” That’s probably the best question I’ve heard in weeks! :D

    I’m still working on eating intuitively and listening to my body (and not that mommy-voice in the back of my head that is always telling me to “Finish your plate!” and “Eat an apple if you’re hungry, otherwise you’re not hungy”).

    I’ve already figured out that my body doesn’t respond too well to cake or chips (which I love to eat for the taste) so my fun now is eating LOTS of different things to see what else I like/love that my body will like/love too without sending me into spirals of digestive trouble! It is just empowering to finally start openly treating food as I’ve secretly been treating it for decades; as tasty fuel for my mind and body! :D

  97. I’m totally new to intuitive eating, but I have been assuming it’s more about de-stressing ourselves about our nourishment and making our relationship to food healthier.

    Absolutely. Almost every comment here saying, “I’d like to eat intuitively, but…” has made me go, “Huh? It sounds like you are eating intuitively!”

    The bottom line for me is: listen to your body. If that means you just need to eat something, anything when your blood sugar’s low, that’s fine. If it means you need to stay away from foods that make you insane, that’s fine. If it means you pick from 20 familiar foods when you’re hungry, that’s fine.

    I mean, I’m no authority on this. But as far as I’m concerned, everyone here who’s worried about doing it wrong isn’t.

  98. pumpkin ravioli with sage and dates in brown butter sauce

    Holy crap on a cracker, every foodie radar in my head just went sproing . That sounds amazing!

    And the best part is, I’ve made a passable version of it at home myself, and I can’t cook for shit. I started with packaged fresh pumpkin ravioli, didn’t clarify the butter like you’re supposed to, and my sage didn’t end up nice and crispy like it does in restaurants. (I didn’t even mess with dates when I tried, but fuck, they add a lot if you’re in the mood for a little sweetness.) But pumpkin ravioli + butter+ sage? Is still SO DAMN GOOD. And, as far as I can tell, impossible to fuck up — ’cause if it were possible, I would have.

    Since you actually can cook (and man, please keep the recipes on your site comin’), I bet you could knock out an awesome version, no prob.

  99. I eat intuitively most of the time. The more I get used to allowing myself to eat “bad” foods, the more I can tell what my body wants. (It helps that I’m living on my own now, so no one is restricting my eating.) For example, I used to always want ice cream when it was around, just because it was ice cream and I had no idea when I would ever see it again. For all I knew, it could be months before there was another carton of ice cream in the freezer. But now that I can buy ice cream whenever I want – and (mostly) not feel guilty about it – I’m just as likely to think, “No, I don’t want ice cream tonight. I’d much rather have some kim chee instead.”

    One thing puzzles me though. I seem to be pretty in touch with my body’s signals – what I crave tends to make sense when I think about it. So why don’t I want fruits or vegetables? I would think my body would need them, but usually when I think about eating them all I feel is disgust (sometimes to the point of actually making me gag). Sometimes I get a craving for pomegranate juice, or pickles, or the aforementioned kim chee, but that’s about it. So I feel like I can’t eat completely intuitively, because that would mean getting almost no fruits and vegetables.

  100. Zoe,
    what works for me is finding ways to cook them which makes them tasty. Or V8. I like V8. Mostly because I don’t get enough veggies too.

    Your tastes might change over time too. I remember as a kid LOATHING anything green but lettuce, and now I’m in love with asparagus and spinach :D

  101. This post has definitely made me think about my eating patterns since stopping dieting and trying my best at IE…I, the queen of junk food, fried things, and takeout, have actually been craving homemade food from scratch, and salads. I’m afraid that the current freezing-ass cold weather is indicative that hell has in fact frozen over. :D

    And damn, spinach sounds good right now!

  102. Part of intuitive eating to me is actually knowing what things really taste like. My husband says my superpower is to always order the right thing in a restaurant, and I think that’s because I can think, “Chicken + onions + peppers + cheese = yum!”. Back when I was a kid and had to eat everything put in front of me (like it or not), I would ignore the flavor/texture of something, just so I could choke it down. Then in college, I found wonderful, delicious, delightful food that had real flavor. Once I learned what food really tasted like, it was easier to know what I wanted.

  103. I’ve been so out of touch with what my body wants for so long that I’ve been going through these weird stages as I’m trying to figure it out. For awhile, I was buying Dove Chocolates all the time. Recently I’m on an Orangina kick – and last night all I wanted to buy at the grocery store was Spaghetti-Os.

    But the good stuff is also kicking in – I crave salad sometimes like no one’s business. And, 2 nights ago, I told my partner that I needed a snack and when he asked what I wanted I told him fruit. It really didn’t matter which kind. I just wanted fruit.

  104. The bottom line for me is: listen to your body. If that means you just need to eat something, anything when your blood sugar’s low, that’s fine. If it means you need to stay away from foods that make you insane, that’s fine. If it means you pick from 20 familiar foods when you’re hungry, that’s fine.

    This makes sense to me, and I think for me part of – learning to eat sanely, which I think intuitive eating is included in – is learning that sometimes it’s okay to take short cuts because food doesn’t always need to be the foremost thing on my mind. So sometimes what I want is to spend hours cooking the perfect thing or travel a long distance to get the perfect thing, and sometimes what I want is to get something with a minimum of fuss, and that’s okay too. (So today, I grabbed a turkey burger and pita chips at my school’s cafeteria because it was too damn cold to go any further and because I didn’t want to wait in the more involved food lines. The turkey burger turned out to be perfect, which was great, and the pita chips – more eh.)

  105. Joegeek and everyone :)

    Hi – frequent reader, rare poster here to say: Overcoming Overeating is a great IE primer that does NOT encourage or emphasize weight loss. The authors certainly do acknowledge that wl sometimes happens when someone’s eating becomes more attuned, but often there’s no weight change and they are cool with that.

    Ive gotten quite good at IE after years of compulsive eating/dieting and it’s still amazing to me how much time and energy I wasted instead of just letting my body do what it already KNEW how to do! (that is, feed itself)


  106. Ugh, I certainly have the deprivation-thing going on — when someone offers me free food, I take it, because lord only knows when I’ll get free food again, right? Even if I’m not hungry for a doughnut or whatever. (OK, I’m always hungry for dessert-type things.)

    Let me keep reminding myself that I have money in my checking account and really, I can go buy cupcakes (or make them) if I want them. I can afford them. No, really.

    Relative poverty makes truly intuitive eating a little difficult, but I’m working on it.

  107. I’ve been trying to eat intuitively, but I’m finding it doesn’t fit very well into my life. Between work and commute I spend 10.5 hours a day away from home, which means if I get a craving for tomato soup at lunchtime, but what I brought with me to eat was a chicken sandwich and an apple… well, I’m kind of out of luck. And I really like to plan my dinners ahead of time and go grocery shopping on the weekend so when I get home from work at 6:30 or 7, the ingredients are ready to go and all I have to do is cook. Which means that if what I want for dinner is grilled salmon and roast potatoes but what I have the ingredients for is a chicken stirfry, I’m probably going to just make the stirfry because for one I don’t want the chicken and veggies to go to waste, and for another, I don’t have the energy to make a shopping list for the dinner I want, go buy the ingredients, and then cook them. I know I could make intuitive eating work if I was willing to put in the expenditures of time, money, and energy, but, well, I’m not… not at this time.

    Although I do try to make up for it on the weekends, usually by Friday or Saturday I’m desperately craving salad or beef or whatever and I have that. And I do give myself permission to have a snack or a dessert if that’s what I want, and that helps. But full on intuitive eating is just not working as part of my life right now.

  108. Becky, again, I don’t think you’re necessarily that far off from what I consider IE. In the examples above, I didn’t feel absolutely rapturous about oatmeal or tomato soup, for instance — I ate them because, out of the items in the house, they sounded good, and I wasn’t about to go out in search of The Perfect Food. Realistically, it would be impossible to always eat EXACTLY what you want at any given time. (If I’d been desperately craving a chicken salad sandwich yesterday, I would have been SOL unless I was willing to leave the house, which I wasn’t.)

    When I’m at home and craving something specific that I don’t have, 9 times out of 10, I can look around the kitchen and find something that works fine. I might start out thinking, “Damn, I want some cheese!” but end up eating yogurt; a craving for fresh asparagus might be translated to frozen broccoli; a desire for meat might lead to eating peanut butter, ’cause I realize what I really want is protein.

    Sometimes, of course, I get a bug up my ass about some very specific food, and I have to run out and get it. But usually, my cravings go more like: “X sounds good — and ooh, Y, which is right in front of me, sounds good, too!” Any given craving is basically just a ballpark. Being able to choose from a menu of super yummy meals and find something that hits the spot EXACTLY is hardly an everyday occurrence. It just happened to be part of the day I was writing about (which is why I was inspired to write about this particular day, in fact).

  109. “And fwiw, when I was writing this, I was conscious of the privilege involved in choosing from a bunch of relatively costly menu items and between stupid expensive ports.”

    Were you? Because it IS a pretty huge fucking privilege to be able to eat exactly what you want when you want it.
    Not all of your readers can afford to go out for expensive dinners and glasses of 12 dollar scotch in the name of “listening to what my body needs.”
    Let’s be careful not to let “intuitive eating” become synonymous with “elitist eating.”

  110. Okay, Kate, I’m slightly embarrassed now. You just addressed precisely what I was getting at.
    But I still think it’s important to recognize the tremendous opportunities we have in this country to eat what we choose to eat.

  111. oh, and also, this: intuitive eating is pretty new to me, and as i got into it i became hyper aware of trying to figure out EXACTLY what i wanted EVERY time i was hungry. needless to say, i couldn’t figure that out all the time, and there were also obviously times when i’d be craving, say, pizza, and got pizza that ended up being extremely lackluster (unfortunately all too common ’round my parts). i developed this feeling of “wasting a meal” if it wasn’t orgasmic.

    and that brings me to something a smart person once told me about not taking eating so seriously. she said that day-to-day food choices are like your sex life. sometimes it’s awesome, sometimes it doesn’t live up to expectations, sometimes it’s long and drawn out and intensely pleasurable, and sometimes it’s a quickie to get the job done so you can satisfy yourself and be able to fully focus your attentions elsewhere. that’s it, nothing more. not every meal needs to be mind blowing. there will be more and you don’t need to feel like you missed out on the best thing ever just because this one occasion didn’t make you want to do backflips.

  112. By the way, can anyone recommend a book or website about IE that doesn’t push it as a weight-loss method? I’d really like to invest in some research, but I’d rather not be bombarded with claims of IE as an easy miracle cure to rid the world of fat people, crime and global conflict.

    I heard about this discussion and question from a list serve I’m on. I use a health at every size approach in my work as a therapist – and am also tired of the “promise” that IE is a weight loss method. Hope you won’t mind me posting this – I have 2 books that speak to the above request: The Diet Survivors Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care and Beyond A Shadow of a Diet: The Therapist’s Guide to Treating Compulsive Eating (written with professionals in mind to get them to stop prescribing diets, but fairly easy to read, with lots of health at every size research.)
    Our website is http://www.dietsurvivors.com

    I hope these will be good resources – so cool to hear people embracing this approach.

  113. bigmovesbabe- Yay! Paneer reciple! And it doesn’t sound too difficult. Poor Amy’s Organic is going to be sad that I am learning how to make my own, since I buy 3 or 4 of their Indian frozen lunches a week.

    Kate, I second the motion for a recipe post!

  114. Glad to be of service, Kristin! It is TOTALLY easy, and not too time-intensive. The recipe is easily doubled, or one-and-a-halfed (I cook up a gallon at a time), and the ingredients are relatively cheap: whole milk and a couple of lemons for the juice.

    Of course, if you want to use it in from-scratch South Asian cooking, you have to know how to cook the vegetable “base” (spinach or peas or whatever). I’m happy to send over my spinach recipe, and peas, oh, yum, with some tomatoes? Yu-HUM! That’s what I’m going to try next. Over the past 6 years of being with a Bangladeshi guy, and then before that eating mostly vegetarian, I’ve gotten pretty good at improvising with the spices and cooking of vegetables. And paneer fits right in there with just about anything, I think.

    Shapeling cookbook! (you can sell it at the merch tables of the world tour)

  115. I second the wish for a HEROIN chicken recipe!!!

    If the name is any indicator, we should be in for a real treat!

  116. Three things:

    First off, now I’m STARVING.

    Second, Wow! That’s a reasonably priced menu. Something I miss living in what has to be the most concentrated wealth in America (really beautiful, sure, but REALLY tedious on occasion).

    #3, Try Warre’s Nimrod Tawny. It’s spectacular, and with port, I know you know, you can spend TONS more, but you really can’t do too much better.

  117. Mmmm…

    Intuitive eating is definitely working for me, even if it’s slow going. I keep craving textures rather than specific foods. I keep thinking I want something crunchy-chewy and savoury, and then can’t find anything that satisfies my need for chewiness whilst still being crunchy. My cupboard is full of sweet things as I’m in the middle of making a batch of chocolate bunnies filled with sweeties for the guys at work, but I’ve not had any myself as I’ve not been craving it, and because know I can have some if I want to.

    Last night I may a deep lamb casserole with butternut squash, carrot and potato and a side of fresh pumpkin seed bread. Today I am craving rice, specifically really fluffy rice that’s been done in the oven, so will use some of the leftover casserole with rice.

  118. Nia, no worries. Your point is absolutely valid, as many people have said on this thread. And even though I’m not having meals like that every day, I still have the luxury of buying pretty much whatever I want at the grocery store, and the luxury of good local grocery stores, and the luxury of both a car and great public transportation to get there… All things that not everyone here has.

  119. Ummm, heroin chicken????

    Basically, you dip boneless skinless chicken pieces of your choice or chicken wings in melted butter, then roll them in grated parmesan mixed with random Italian herbs, then bake them until crispy. Parmesan is the only actual “white powder” involved. (It does need to be finely grated, not shredded.)

    Nia. what is the point of feeling that being able to eat a wide variety of food is “elitist” and “privileged”? Is it just one more way to award moral value to eating, to make sure that we can’t eat guilt-free?

  120. Basically, you dip boneless skinless chicken pieces of your choice or chicken wings in melted butter, then roll them in grated parmesan mixed with random Italian herbs, then bake them until crispy. Parmesan is the only actual “white powder” involved. (It does need to be finely grated, not shredded.)

    This sounds so incredibly good…I am def. going to try this!

    what is the point of feeling that being able to eat a wide variety of food is “elitist” and “privileged”? Is it just one more way to award moral value to eating, to make sure that we can’t eat guilt-free?

    That’s actually a very good point. While Nia was right, those who can afford to eat whatever they want and have access to it are very lucky, I don’t think that constantly acknowledging that fact would do anything except make you feel too guilty to eat.

  121. Nia. what is the point of feeling that being able to eat a wide variety of food is “elitist” and “privileged”? Is it just one more way to award moral value to eating, to make sure that we can’t eat guilt-free?

    I’m not Nia (obviously), but I think eating as well as many of us can and do is a definite privilege, no question, but I don’t consider it elitist per se. I agree with you that attaching value to food starts the slippery slope of negative, guilty food associations, which is basically everything I’m trying to avoid through FA, HAES, and IE.

  122. That’s actually a very good point. While Nia was right, those who can afford to eat whatever they want and have access to it are very lucky, I don’t think that constantly acknowledging that fact would do anything except make you feel too guilty to eat.

    I actually kind of think that the people who can afford expensive foods have a bit of a responsibility to buy them — not necessarily at restaurants, but with the whole organic/local/exotic produce and meat thing, the more people who buy them when they’re expensive, the more stores all over are convinced that there’s a market for them, so the greater access more consumers have to them (and the price then tends to fall a bit, as the goods move from “luxury item” to “everyday thing”).

  123. Occhiblu, I actually agree with that, and I do try to buy that stuff for that reason, as well as because it’s what I like to eat.

    I’m the same way with books. Having worked in publishing, I know how small the market for books really is, and I know that they have to be friggin’ expensive for all the people who worked on them to get paid. (Well, actually, I could rant about big box bookstores taking an obscene cut and driving prices up further, so they can then discount them to what the price would have been if they weren’t demanding such a large percentage, but that’s another story.) So, as a former editor and a writer who’s hoping to sell books someday, I feel absolutely obligated to buy the books I want to read, as long as I can afford them, and moreover to buy them in hardcover if I’m really excited about them. (If I’m only mildly excited, I’ll wait for the PB, ’cause that’s all it’s worth to me.)

    I get furious with people who will spend hundreds of dollars a pop on theatre, ballet, opera, restaurants, whatever, and then put their name on a goddamned waiting list at the library when they want to read a new book. PAY THE THIRTY BUCKS SO THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THE BOOK CAN MAKE A LIVING, YOU ASSHOLE, AND LET SOMEONE WHO CAN’T AFFORD IT READ THE LIBRARY COPY.

    Ahem. Sorry about that.

  124. Hee. That actually makes me feel better about my own inability to get myself to the library. I *love* bookstores, but whenever I get that itchy “NEED BOOK NOW” feeling, I’ve been trying to push myself to the library (mainly because, at this point in my broke-ass grad-school life, I *don’t* have the money to be spending at bookstores).

    But I’m bad about going to the library because it’s not very convenient, and there are bookstores everywhere, and I’ve been feeling guilty about that, but now I feel better, because I’m supporting authors! YAY!

  125. Lisa: The description of “Overcoming Overeating” on Amazon is what actually prompted my original question. The front flap starts out with “AT LAST! A BOOK TO HELP YOU BREAK OUT OF THE DIET/BINGE CYCLE–AND LOSE WEIGHT NATURALLY.”

    They lost me right there, and only riddled the corpse of interest with extra bullets by promising again that reading a book would make me “Stop overeating and lose weight naturally”

    As if the two were mutually dependent. Narf.

    Judith: Thanks for your titles, I’ll look them over. If I end up getting one I’ll try and do a review on my blog.

  126. As eating is obviously central to our lives, no wonder people fear IE, what if it all went to far, say Intuitive living? Woah, people might try and please themselves and not be cowered by self-hate or something, WE CAN’T HAVE THAT CAN WE?

    My recent attempts at IE have actually lead to that kind of mindset about “Intuitive Living” (if you will). Before, there was the voice saying, “You have to get out of bed, you lazy slob!!” Now there’s a lot more “Sleeping is nice. I like it.” Or “You can’t spend that long at the gym! How self-indulgent!” versus “Wow, I like yoga *and* the elliptical.” I mean, there are some limitations — I’d like to finish my grad program, which isn’t all sunshine and roses, and I get a lot of flexibility from being a reasonably well-off single woman with no kids. But just stopping to ask, “What do I want to do right now? What would make me happy?” and considering that a perfectly good reason to do things is making a major difference in my life.

    In other news, IE is involving a lot more awesome cooking experiences for me. Fun times! I finally learned to make bread!

  127. JoGeek: Yikes! Just checked out Amazon and damn, you’re right! Sorry to see that and surpised too, since I have met both authors and they are (or were) very weight neutral.
    I can tell you the book itself IS in fact, weight neutral. I wouldn’t’ve found it helpful for myself if it wasn’t. Munter and Hirschmann’s second book, “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” is also a great read and talks specifically how dangerous and unhealthy it can be to celebrate weight loss. Anyway, I encourage you to check out the book itself as you may still find it helpful. And *I* am going to email the authors to find out WTH is up with their Amazon page :)

  128. “You can’t spend that long at the gym! How self-indulgent!”

    I’ve been having this problem too — weird for a fatty to say, let alone two of them, eh? :) Terry the gym manager is encouraging me to stop thinking about work while I’m at the gym, which is what I do constantly (I work out at lunchtime and I’m always like “well I want to do a little more but I’ve already been gone for half an hour”). Right now is a bad time to actually put that into practice, but it’s an important goal overall.

  129. About Overcoming Overeating: Authors don’t write jacket or promotional copy, and they have little control over what goes into it unless they are Stephen King-level superstars. The actual content of the book says that weight loss might be possible with their methods if it’s in the genetic cards for you and you haven’t already dieted too much.. It does not “promise” weight loss with their methodology the way Fat Is a Feminist Issue and most of Geneen Roth’s books do. It’s a shame that the publisher thinks the only real “sell” for this book is the weight-loss aspect, because what OO actually says goes way beyond that.

  130. Hi Again!! I forgot about another GREAT Intuitive Eating book – “The Diet Survivor’s Handbook” by Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel. The authors are sisters and (full discosure here) Ellen is a friend of mine. It is VERY weight neutral, although they do educate about the fact that yo-yo dieting actually increases weight over the long run, and how important it is health-wise to stabilize your weight. These authors are both very HAES Savvy. This book includes ideas and exercises for being loving and accepting of the body you have NOW.

    Hope this helps! :)

  131. I always have, although chopped fresh would work too. (Mmmm, rosemary.)

    There’s also a variation where you dip the chicken in egg instead of butter, then sautee it in butter. Haven’t tried that one yet.

  132. I can’t believe I read all those posts waiting to find out what heroin chicken is, and it’s something I’ve made for like 15 years lol. Can’t wait to tell my husband it has a name – and what a name! We usually use bite-sized chunks of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs.

    Mmmm – I know what we’re having in the next couple days :D

  133. That’s my biggest problem with exercising, actually – I can’t stand to spend that kind of time on only myself. I mean, who do I think I am, anyway? A lot of therapy helped me realize I was worth some time and energy, but somehow exercising is still a mental block. It’s so…personal. The minute things get busy, that’s the first thing to go, because it ‘only’ benefits me. Gaa.

  134. Oh, and kristin: Poor Amy’s Organic is going to be sad that I am learning how to make my own, since I buy 3 or 4 of their Indian frozen lunches a week.

    NO FREAKING KIDDING. I adore their palak and matter paneer. Yum, yum, yum. I’ve made my own paneer, and it is just that easy, although it is somehow low on taste when I do it. I’ve found a good jarred curry sauce, though (that is great with chickpeas), so now I just have to get my butt going and make some paneer to combine it with. Have you tried the Amy’s soups? There’s a black bean and a corn chowder that are really good. :)

  135. I get furious with people who will spend hundreds of dollars a pop on theatre, ballet, opera, restaurants, whatever, and then put their name on a goddamned waiting list at the library when they want to read a new book. PAY THE THIRTY BUCKS SO THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THE BOOK CAN MAKE A LIVING, YOU ASSHOLE, AND LET SOMEONE WHO CAN’T AFFORD IT READ THE LIBRARY COPY.

    Wow, that just legitimized my semi-psychotic book buying habit. That and the fact that, as I reminded myself at the bookstore yesterday, the mass market paperback I bought cost me less than a ticket to go see whatever silly movie I might go see or a meal at a mediocre restaurant, both of which I’ll drop $10 on without a second thought.

  136. gah. I thought I was getting the hang of this. I really, really thought I wanted chicken alfredo tonight, so I made some chicken alfredo. Now I’m really full, but the chicken just didn’t do it for me. And I still have a fridge full of it.

    Which brings me to the other frustration- cooking for one. Chicken alfredo may have been what I wanted tonight, but I know it’s what I’m going to have tomorrow, too, regardless of whether or not I really want it tomorrow. I’m really tempted to start living off of frozen dinners. At least they’re single serving.

  137. Ksfeminist, when I was single, I used to make big batches of stuff and then freeze it in individually sized Tupperware so I could just reheat enough for one meal at a time whenever I felt like it. Of course, that’s only good for stuff that freezes well, but it was definitely a big help.

  138. Oh, I have a question about the paneer recipe- What type of milk works best/ Which types produce what results? Whole, 2%, Skim? I’m guessing it will be smoother with whole and more crumbly with skim, but I’m not very good at food chemistry.

  139. Regarding the whole “intuitive eating” thing:
    I got up this morning, hit all my favorite blogs, read this entry, thought “Yes, yes, what a great post!” and then went to make my luch for work. I put some tasty fennel salad in a container, then some roasted chicken with pearl onions in another. As I was standing in front of the fridge getting the chicken out, my eye fell on the biscuits I made yesterday morning (REAL biscuits, not store-bought – YUM), and I thought, “I should take a biscuit for lunch.” Then I thought, “No, no! I’m trying to eat HEALTHIER, and I don’t need to be eating biscuits every day!!”

    Well, I didn’t sleep well last night, and whenever I don’t sleep well, my body can only handle protein if it has some CARBS with it – preferably simple carbs, kthxbai. By the time it got to my lunchtime, I looked at that chicken, and my stomach said, “Oh, HELL no. I need some BREAD with my protein.” So I went to the commisary and bought a sandwich.

    I didn’t realize until later this afternoon that if I’d listened to my body this morning AND PACKED THE DAMN BISCUIT I would have been perfectly happy with the lunch I packed. It’s both funny and sad to see myself understand the theory behind something and then completely fail to really COMPREHEND it.

  140. KSfeminist: I don’t know what milk works better. The recipe I started with uses whole milk. I remember comments in that blog saying that skim pretty much sucked, 2% was do-able. The first time I cooked it, I actually used both whole milk AND some leftover heavy cream, so wholer-than-whole milk!

    I myself won’t drink anything lower fat than 2%, and lately I’ve been putting whole milk on the oatmeal in the morning, so that’s all I’ve got around anyway. Try it and see!

  141. LilahMorgan, you can trade all those mass-market paperbacks on bookmooch.com! Okay, it’s not directly supporting the authors (*runs from kate*), but it is a fun way to participate in book culture while curbing any potential for runaway consumerism.

  142. but it is a fun way to participate in book culture while curbing any potential for runaway consumerism.

    Or you could encourage the authors you love to take their books into their own hands and deal with the public directly instead of supporting layers of middlemen.


    (Fat Acceptance is only my part time rant. Fomenting independent literature is my full time one.)

  143. For the past week I’ve been eating a lot of fast-food meals, and yesterday I told myself I couldn’t handle eating another fast-food meal because I was just so sick of them.

    Needless to say, I had Burger King for lunch and BAM! Major fucking heartburn. Blegh. Now I know I’m not doing that again ;).

    The problem I have though is that I don’t know how to cook, as in REALLY don’t know how to cook. Seriously, the only thing I can cook are eggs, and they turn out really ugly (Edible? Yes. Edible-looking? No). So my choices are pretty much limited to fast-food and frozen dinners. And I love variety, so there’s only so much I can take of either one of them. In fact, I would so die right now for anything homemade. Anyone got any suggestions on how I can learn how to cook?

  144. The thing I love most about intuitive eating is not feeling guilty about every thing I put in my mouth.

    I had a horrendously shitty day yesterday, and my body went into comfort mode, which means lots of sweet tea and lots of carbs.

    So I came in from work, made a huge mug of decaf tea with sugar, and had a freshly baked GF sugar cookie. As I finished that cookie, I thought to myself, “I REALLY want a second”. And instantly that little voice kicked in, “you can’t have a second! That would be bad! You need to fit in your wedding dress, and you won’t if you keep eating!”. But it was such a quiet voice compared to my body, which was clearly telling me to go get another cookie.

    So I did.

    Waking up this morning, I’m feeling much better. And my craving for cookies? Gone.

    Do I feel guilty? Nope! It’s so great because it’s such a difference in how I used to be. :)

  145. I don’t remember OO being 100% weight neutral. It has now been a while since I have read it, but I have read it several times. (Funny story–one of those times was when I was 18 and working at a McDonald’s. I was reading it on my break and my manager was like “Oh, honey, you don’t need Overcoming Overeating!” I recognize that in her own warped way she was just trying to be nice, but how could she possibly know? Of course she meant “you’re not five other things I associate with being fat,” tm Kate). I agree to the extent that is the most “gentle” IE book out there that I have read, but the authors apparently lost weight eating their way, and it at least gets mentioned. It probably depends on how sensitive you are to the topic.

    The Diet Survivor’s Handbook sounds great. I will have to check that out.

    Arwen, thanks for the “de-stressing” angle on IE. That is a great point and one I really need to remember–if it’s stressing me out, then clearly it’s not working for me.

    In fact I feel “un-stressed” enough now to recall that I do have a food I am really digging lately… I microwave some frozen tart cherries for a minute, then pour some plain kefir over them and enjoy. The whole combo is very sour but that seems to be working for me. The rest of what I am eating is more mundane (though I also recently made pulled pork for a get-together and there were tons of leftovers, and I really enjoyed it right down to the last sandwich).

    bigmovesbabe, the fresh cheese sounds awesome and way easier than I would have thought. Thanks for the recipe!

  146. zenjen, I would suggest picking up two recipe books: The Joy of Cooking, and any cookbook that claims to have “easy” or “simple” recipes. And then just try some of the recipes in the easy book. If you’re not sure what something in the recipe means, you can look it up in the Joy of Cooking. You’ll make some mistakes at first, maybe ruin a meal or two (but maybe not, often times mistakes turn out edible, and even tasty), but you’ll get the hang of it with practice.

  147. car: Exercise is still the first thing to go for me when I get busy… which is stupid, because I do it primarily for the anxiety-relieving benefit, and when I’m busy, I’m more anxious. I need it *more*, not less.

    zenjen: Cooking involves a lot of confidence, and some trial and error. I second the Joy of Cooking. Also, if you’re into veggies (even if you’re not a vegetarian), I love Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone — there’s a section that lists vegetables alphabetically, how to pick them out, and what to do with them. Great for a beginner. You could also try asking a friend who can cook to let you observe/help/etc., and you’ll pick a lot up. Lastly, remember that if a recipe totally fails, there’s always calling for pizza, so don’t be afraid to try stuff out.

  148. Zenjen, I also highly recommend picking up A) a countertop grill, a la the George Foreman, and B) a Crock-Pot. Both are idiot-proof and expand the number of interesting foods a lousy cook can make at home. (The Crock-Pot will make large quantities, but you can freeze stuff.)

    The Basic Gourmet is hands-down my favorite 101 cookbook. (The Joy of Cooking is good, but it’s big and has 8 billion recipes and tiny type; just looking at it overwhelms me.) Every recipe in it is manageable, and all the ones I’ve tried have been good the first time. And it has a whole section explaining what different cooking terms mean, how to select meat and fish, what kind of tools you’ll need, etc. (It also has lots of simple vegetarian dishes if you’re intimidated by meat and fish or don’t eat them.)

    Another idea is to grab one of those 5-ingredient cookbooks. It took me a long time to realize that I am WAY more interested in cooking when the list of ingredients isn’t a mile long.

  149. If you go for the Joy of Cooking, try going the used book route and finding an older copy published before the mid-90s. From what I understand there was a revision somewhere in there that sent it all to hell, and later revisions have tried to even it out, but not so well.

    I think we really need a “favorite recipes” thread. :)

  150. fillyjonk, that guy can pry my Joy of Cooking from my cold, fat, dead hands. :) I do remember seeing somewhere a book that was to teach you how to cook in general without using recipes, but I never looked into it. I would like to have more intuitive cooking, if I could call it that, but you have to learn basic recipes before you can start improvising, I think.
    The great Julia Child has a tiny little book called “In the kitchen with Julia” that is wonderful, because it groups cooking styles and goes through them in an easy, simple fashion and makes it easy to make up your own variations.

  151. I was craving simple carbs today – namely, a sandwich on white bread and these amazing mini butter cakes that my favorite local bakery makes. Normally, eating that many carbs with so little other stuff makes me feel blah, but after reading this I realized that since I was just getting over food poisoning my body needed something that would be easy to digest yet would give me a big boost of energy after barely eating for two days. And you know what? It worked.

  152. Oh, and for learning to cook: almost the only thing I ever cook is a variation on the following: put some olive oil (or peanut oil) in a skillet. Add some meat cut into chunks (if you’re a meat eater). Sautee for a while. Add some cut up veggies (such as spinach, bok choi, onions, tomatoes, carrots, pea pods, green beans, eggplant, zucchini, squash, green beans, peppers, and many more that I can’t think of now) and, possibly, peanuts or cashews. Add some spices. Garlic is great. Soy sauce or oyster sauce if you want something more Asian-inspired. A can of stewed tomatoes if you want something more Mediterranean-ish. Salt, pepper, oregano, whatever. Maybe some mozzarella, parmesan, or feta cheese. Serve over noodles, rice, orzo, couscous, whatever floats your boat. There are infinite variations, and it’s pretty hard to screw up.

  153. Oooh, I second the recommendation for a countertop grill. The easiest meal ever is to grill a piece of meat or fish (assuming you eat meat or fish of course) on a counter top grill, and steam some veggies in the microwave. Stirfries, like wiscck mentioned are easy too.

  154. wiscck- I found the simple carbs when sick are very true. I really don’t like sweet things, but I have had the flu, and found myself craving candy and sweet drinks. I still felt guilty about eating them, but sucking on the candy made my throat feel good. My wise boyfriend pointed out that after a trauma experience or emergency, people are encouraged to eat something sugary and fatty. This is probably along the lines of the same concept. I was on the rescue crew after a major weather event that hit a campground (those darn microbursts) and everyone non-injured or slightly injured (and not diabetic) we gave a chocolate bar and made them eat it. It does wonders for shock.

  155. I was fortunate that my mother (whose own eating and health were forever ruined by the diet industry) brought us up with intuitive eating. She instilled it in me even if she can’t do it herself. If she could, she would be probably be fat and strong now, instead of fat and sick. I do need to be more mindful about what I really want to eat though, and have started working on that today!
    Off topic…I was also fortunate to grow up with a father who obviously loves and lusts after my very fat mother, through 30 years of marriage and counting. I was never truly worried that no one would ever love me because of my size, whatever it turned out to be. I also had a good model for marriage and relationships, in general.

  156. Simple carbs during times of stress or injury are really the only things I can keep down. I had a massive horrible eyes swelling shut and and needing oxygen at my friend’s wedding allergic reaction several years ago and all I felt like eating for months afterwards were Nilla Wafers. That was the only food that appealed to me and I didn’t argue with my body on it. At that point I was too weak to argue.

    Control is a huge food issue with me, probably because of my allergies. I bought a small camping fridge that I keep on my desk at work (people in my office actually pillage other people’s lunches and condiments) and I fill it with random stuff I know I might want to snack on – yogurt, jelly, cheese, olives apricots, etc. so there’s always something for me to choose from if my body wants it. Sometimes the fridge stays full all week, and sometimes it’s cleaned out by Tuesday, depending on what I need.

    IE has allowed me to be okay with being picky and not settling for things that would induce panic attacks in the middle of a restaurant. I’ve been experimenting with granola bars lately and those now often satisfy the need for something grainy and fruity without stressing me out or making me search between 800 options in the supermarket, nearly all of which contain “traces” of things that will send me to the hospital. IE with self prepared food experimentation is just freeing for me, on so many levels.

    Thanks Kate.

  157. I just made a post about people thinking fat, calories and sugar are poison or something. I find it completely hilarious that we both used spinach as “healthy”-contrast-to-“unhealthy”-food example. Spinach is truly the stereotypically healthy food. That or, like, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with a slice of tomato and a couple of leaves of lettuce.

  158. Thanks guys.
    I live with my parents to save money while I’m in college (they don’t really cook anymore except for special occasions, or they make salads, but there’s only so much salad that I can take), and they do have Joy of Cooking, so that’s one less book I have to look for. I’ll try to look into the other suggestions too.

  159. zenjen, my favorite cookbook for beginners is The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. It’s full of basic recipes, but it also has a color photo of every single dish. This helped me immensely when I was just starting to cook, because half the time I had no idea what I was aiming at. And even though I have *cough* a LOT of cookbooks now, I still go back to this one when I need a good basic recipe because the recipes work.

    ooh, recipes on Friday? I’ll have to dig out a few of my favorites.

  160. JoGeek: When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies is good as far as not pushing weight loss goes. So is Overcoming Overeating, though it does mention that weight loss may potentially happen using IE if it’s on the genetic cards for you and your metabolic rate isn’t too diet-damaged.

  161. A) I could’ve written this post, and am, in fact, planning one rather similar to it. Seriously, I do the same thing with menus. Focus on what I really, really want and then have guilt, either over the price or fat content or often both and many times I submit to that guilt and regret the decision for the rest of the meal. I’m getting better, though.

    B) I only hope that someday I can get 188 comments on a post that’s a month old. Geesh. You’re awesome.

  162. All trolling and exaggerations aside, I have this very strong sense memory of being about 8 and sitting on the counter at a rental house while everyone else was out skiing and eating a stick of margarine. I was peeling it like a banana and reflecting on the curious fact that I’d been able to eat sticks of butter like this only a couple of years before, but now they revolted me. (I have no independent memory of eating butter like that, just this memory of remembering at the time that I had.) I guess the margarine had more flavor. These days, I can still eat a block of cream cheese like that, but I can’t imagine eating straight butter or margarine. (Eww! I’m grossing myself out just thinking about it.) I’m really glad that no one ever caught me doing that or I’d probably have had to listen to a long lecture about how my natural food preferences were evil and a sign of emotional disturbance. Though, actually, I may have told my parents about it at the time… hmm… I guess they didn’t freak out or I would remember it more clearly.

    Personally, I just figure it was freakin’ cold in the rental place and I hadn’t eaten anything all day.

  163. I am having a wonderful time with Intuitive Eating – for myself and my kiddos – and I have your site to thank. So, thank you.

    I am also super-glad not to have gone through TOO much food drama / food “morality”. I had one parent who did this shit, one parent who didn’t, and I take after the latter. Thank goodness.

  164. Old thread, but I wanted to put in another plug for Intuitive Eating. Sure, it’s a little irritating to me that for about two days now, all I’ve wanted to eat was my approximate body weight in Bing cherries. I’m not sure what nutritional deficiency I’m working on there. But understanding that the craving probably signals something is extremely helpful. It’s also nice to know that eating a big pile of cherries is okay, as long as I balance it out later with other stuff. Everything in moderation. :)

    It was also interesting to watch my husband, after a vacation week of eating deep fried meat and potato meals (his choice), practically beg for a spinach dinner salad and then complain that he wanted more spinach and less chicken on said salad. He was perplexed and more than a little weirded out by this craving. I told him “welcome to intuitive eating”.

  165. Kate Harding is the epitome of body-loving-and-being-normal-with-food-ness I guide all my clients toward. Wow–everytime I read your writing, I’m blown away. I am going to start passing out your book like candy! Love it, love you! You are a gem–thanks for sharing real beauty and truth with the world.

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