Letting go of the ideal eater
I had an epiphany today. And it’s led to my first (and possibly only) resolution for the upcoming year.
I will no longer beat myself up for not being an intuitive eater.
You know, if at each meal time, I was presented with a well-balanced and well-cooked meal of veggies and grains and lean proteins or a plate of my favorite dessert, 9 times out of 10 I would choose the dessert. And you know what? That’s fine. I feel like I’ve spent several years waiting for this moment when sweet would no longer taste better than not-sweet; where the french fry would pale compared to the steamed broccoli and where all these choices about food would become as mindless as breathing.
But that hasn’t happened yet and, for me, it never will. Sure, I have periods of great eating. Where I have a varied diet full of nutritious foods while gently weaving in enough sweets and other such foods to keep me satisfied. But that’s a habit I get into, not a ‘default’ setting that I’ve discovered. I don’t have a default setting. My choices depend on my life. What’s happening. What food is available. Who I’m hanging out with and how stressed I am.
I’m not sure how I even feel anymore about intuitive eating as a concept. Like I said above, my preference is overwhelmingly towards sweet and/or fatty foods and I live in a world where those are ALWAYS easily available. So maybe for people like me, it’s not possible to rely on some inner sense that would have evolved at some point in our history where obtaining a bucket of french fries and a candy bar required slightly more work than driving to the nearest Sheetz.
Not that I’m against it all together. Whatever works for people’s relationship towards eating (which how messed up is it that it has to be SO HARD to figure out all this stuff about a completely necessary function). But like a lot of ‘natural’ ideas, I have often felt ashamed when I didn’t feel like I was living up to whatever standard I invented for myself.
So I’m letting it go.
And I know there will be at least a few people out there ready to tell me that the problem is that I’m defining intuitive eating too narrowly. That may be true, but to be frank, I’ve seen so many different definitions (from following basically every whim of appetite to following your tastes and hunger levels while still adhering to a weight-loss diet) that I think it would be silly to claim there is a single definition out there.
ETA: I should say that some of the concepts from intuitive eating were enormously helpful to me. As I’ve said before, surrounding myself with ‘forbidden’ foods until I understood that I could have them in the house without having to compulsively eat them was a big breakthrough for me. It’s just that choosing to eat a balanced meal instead of those once-forbidden foods is mostly down to my analytical brain. I still want the damn cookies, but I understand eating them instead of lunch and dinner is not a good thing.