How Intuitive Eating Changed My Life – Eating Disorder Recovery

This is part of my Eating Disorder Recovery Series. Although Intuitive Eating changed my life in tremendous ways, what works for one person might not work for another. I am not a medical professional, and if you are struggling I urge you to be brave and seek a registered professional to get the help you deserve.

Intuitive Eating changed my life. It has given me the freedom to eat whatever I want, whenever I want while staying in the best shape of my life. So many women struggle with their relationship with food. Many of us get caught up in ‘diet culture‘, or worse, end up with an eating disorder. Personally, I struggled with a severe eating disorder for about a decade. If you jump from diet to diet or have an eating disorder, you have stopped listening to your body’s internal cues and you’re not eating intuitively.

Eating disorders carry a heavy shroud of shame, and can be difficult to talk about. I suffered in silence and felt that I couldn’t share my struggles with anyone, not even a therapist. My self-esteem plummeted, and I was so embarrassed that I refused to even go out and see my friends. I became very lonely, and my eating disorder got even worse. Intuitive Eating changed my life and helped me recover from my eating disorder. If I can become an intuitive ‘normal’ eater, you definitely can too.

Keep reading to find out how intuitive eating changed my life.

What the Heck is Intuitive Eating?

Have you ever watched a toddler eat? It’s not hard to tell whether they are enjoying their meal or not. A toddler will only eat until she’s full, and if she’s not hungry then she’s not going to eat! Bananas are yummy. Mushy peas are yucky. Mushy peas belong on the floor! This toddler knows what she likes and doesn’t like, and she is eating intuitively. No training required.

Naturally, we are all born intuitive eaters. However, most of us don’t stay this way and eventually we forget how to eat intuitively! Intuitive Eating is all about reconnecting with your primal instincts. Your body knows how to eat, but sometimes your mind gets in the way!

Eating Disorders are the Opposite of Intuitive Eating

Let’s consider two scenarios to see how disordered eating is the opposite of intuitive eating.

Disordered Eating

  1. You eat too little and feel starved throughout the day.
  2. You come home at the end of the day and eat until you are stuffed.

In both disordered eating scenarios, body signals were ignored. If we compare these scenarios to intuitive eating, the outcome is very different.

Intuitive Eating

  1. You eat breakfast and lunch and feel satisfied throughout the day.
  2. You come home and make a healthy and satisfying meal, and stop eating when you are full.

As you can see, an intuitive eater will listen to her hunger signals. She eats when she’s hungry and stops when she’s full.

Further, Intuitive Eating means:

  • Eating when you’re hungry
  • Stopping when you’re full
  • Eating what you crave
  • Eating food that makes you feel good

Was it easy to become an Intuitive Eater?

No! I’m not going to lie, recovery is not easy. But it can be made easier with professional help. It was really difficult to change my eating habits at first because it’s like learning how to eat all over again. I had to learn how to listen to my body; something that I had stopped doing long ago.

Intuitive-Eating-Changed-My-Life

How did Intuitive Eating Change my Life?

First of all, I no longer suffer from disordered eating! This is a huge feat in itself. Food no longer runs my life. It falls second to far more important things, like my mental wellbeing, spending time with my husband, and my career. I can go out for dinner and eat what I want, and I can also eat proper meals all day while staying in great shape.

As an Intuitive Eater, I eat more than I EVER did with an Eating Disorder.

I eat a lot more now than I did when I was sick with bulimia. This is not to say that I eat a lot of junk food; I do eat healthy about 80% of the time. Once I banished my food rules and realized that I can eat whatever I want, I suddenly did not want to eat foods that made me feel sick. I wanted to eat foods that nourished me.

My diet now consists of a lot of rice and a lot of oatmeal, two things that at one point I would have never eaten! But I also eat a lot of avocados, greens, fish, and eggs, and a lot of CHOCOLATE! I am a self-confessed chocolate addict, but eating a few squares of super dark chocolate keeps me satisfied and happy. But once a week I will indulge in ice cream, cake, pizza, whatever I’m feeling. This is intuitive eating!

Intuitive Eating has helped me learn to LOVE my body!

I look and feel way better than when I was sick. Because I eat more than I did when I was sick, I have more physical and mental energy. I can go for a long run, or hit the gym and not feel exhausted. My body has responded well to nourishment and exercise and now I maintain a very healthy and stable weight that I am happy with. After a lot of personal development work, I have built a strong body-positive relationship with myself and food. Most of the time I love my body, but I still have difficult days as anyone does.

Hungry for more?

Reading Material:

Check out this book Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program That Works for more information on how to eat intuitively, or ask your therapist about the Intuitive Eating approach to recovery.

Podcasts:

  • Food Psych Podcast with Christy Harrison
  • F Your Diet with Kimberly Weiss

Are you an intuitive eater? I would love to hear your recovery experience. Share below in the comments!

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Alexandra Hackston
Alexandra Hackston

Alexandra (known as Allie) is a Canadian writer, Business Administration graduate, and the creator of the blog Brave Beyond Borders. Although Alexandra spends most of her time writing, she also loves photography, yoga, kale smoothies, and travelling with her husband.

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