The Intuitive Eating Workshop

Here are my thoughts on yesterday’s thoroughly interesting workshop:

I loved the feminist perspective our leader, Karen, discussed – as women, we are told that we are too big, that we want too much, that we’re not entitled to all the wonderful and delicious things in life, like dessert.

Every woman (and we were all women )in the room nodded vigorously. One woman, Jen, shared that when she was 7, her mother told all the neighbors that Jen wasn’t allowed to eat cookies.

“I wasn’t even really overweight,” Jen said. “I just liked to eat a lot of cookies. The other kids would be snacking away, and I’d have to just sit there and watch.”

My mom had lots of rules for me. So, when my Aunt Rose took to me to lunch once a week, she was told to watch what I ate and not let me eat too much. I was never allowed to order what I wanted. I wasn’t worthy, somehow.

Yesterday, our leader, Karen, assured us that we are entitled to everything! And if we eat intuitively, following our bodies directions, we’ll be just fine.

With intuitive eating, no food is off limits – all foods are legalized. If I can make a match with EXACTLY what my body wants when I’m hungry, I’ll pick the right food and be completely satisfied with the right amount. It doesn’t matter if the food is lettuce, chicken or a milkshake.

I do tend to eat this way. However, most of my sponsees do not. I have one or two who eat more like I do, but most stick to a very strict food plan and abstain from certain foods which they find difficult, such as sugar and white flour. That works really well for them. The most important aspect, I believe, is knowing MY OWN TRUTH. When I am completely honest with myself, what is the right approach? Are there certain foods that are simply too troubling? Do I do better what a set a plan? Whatever my answers are, I need to honor them.

I brought my friend Annie with me yesterday, and while she loved the feminist perspective, she felt the process wouldn’t work for her at all. She’s so happy with her food plan, and by knowing exactly when and what she’s going to eat daily, she feels she can put down the food and live life totally free.

I did really appreciate Karen’s anti-diet approach. She spoke about accepting ourselves as we are right now, no matter if we never lose another pound in our lives. Weight loss is not to be commended because of the warped philosophy that it’s ‘better’ to be thin. Weight loss may possibly be a good sign that I have gotten in touch with eating from hunger, not emotion.

Now, we get to the part where Karen and I started to part ways. Intuitive eating is all about learning to eat when I’m hungry and to stop when I’m full. And If I’m not hungry and I’m eating, it’s emotional eating. I need to learn to ‘feel my feelings’ and not eat over them.

For me, that doesn’t nearly go far enough. Sitting with bad feelings is not going to work for me. For example, the woman sitting next to me said she was filled with resentment and fear and then ate 15 fudge pops.

I bit my tongue – there IS a way out from under resentment and fear. The 12 Steps offer a clear way to face and BE RID of fear and resentment and guilt and shame. And then the desire to eat over these is REMOVED.

By taking the hard (and often, tough) look at myself, I can get over self-pity and resentment, and see that I’m not a victim at all – in fact, I’m just fine. I can also bravely face my fears and see that I can survive. I need to get out of myself, I need to be brave and I need to contribute to the world.

Mostly, I need to take action – not sit and ‘feel my feelings’.

That’s what works for me.

It was a fascinating day, though, and I did learn a couple of things. One thing I did love was when Jen was talking about always wanting to over-eat chocolate cake and Karen turned to her and said,

“You’ve never lived in such a way where cake doesn’t glitter.”

Exactly! Cake doesn’t glitter for me anymore. Life can and does glitter. And that’s pretty darn freeing.

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