I’ve played with Intuitive Eating in the past, finding some success (success being defined as sanity around food and body and a weight that felt generally good for my body, regardless of how it hewed to cultural ideals) for periods of time. And I’ve gone down similar roads, from Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God to Normal Eating for Normal Weight to Isabel Foxen Duke and everything in between.
I like the idea of intuitive eating. It makes sense to me. Ish.
Except that I naturally chafe at the strictures of eating rules. Even the gentle “guidelines” that Intuitive Eating and Geneen Roth suggest. And, as guidelines go, they’re pretty good. But they are guidelines that, for those of us with a bent for dieting/restriction, easily go from “honour your hunger” to “eat as little as you can get away with.” What that looks like is checking in mid-meal to ask “can I stop now? Is this the absolute minimum amount of food I can eat?”
Which is another way of saying, I can use those guidelines to go into diet/restriction mentality. Which is a place of profound distrust of my body. And so even though the party line is “trusting my intuition” the reality is rules-lawyering to use a body-positive approach to restrict. Which leads to reactive eating (which makes me feel crazy, even if I know it’s a physiological phenomenon).
And so I’ve been wondering…what if I decided to radically trust my body?
Which means not just saying I trust it and half-assing it, but really, profoundly trusting my body to tell me when it needs to eat and when it’s had enough. And not second-guessing it.
I took inventory of the ways that I trust my body and it was pretty sad. I trust my body to tell me when I’m too cold or too hot, when I’m thirsty, and when I need to go to the bathroom. But that’s about it. I don’t trust it, not really, to tell me how much and how often to eat, I don’t trust it to tell me when I’m tired–when I need sleep or rest.
And so I wondered–what’s the difference? I would never notice thirst and go “Well, you can’t be thirsty now! You just had water two hours ago!” That is absurd. I would never notice I was chilled and think “No, I’m not going to get that blanket, this sweater should be enough.”
And yet those are the messages I send myself with food. “Is this the least possible amount I can eat? Can I stop now?” And those are the messages I send myself with tiredness, “Yeah, I’m tired, but reading Jezebel for another hour seems like a much better choice than going to bed early.”
And so I wonder, what if I decided to radically trust my body? What if I change the question from “Can I stop now?” to “Do I need more? How much do I need to feel nourished?”
I don’t know what the answer will be. But I realize that I can’t trust my body until my body trusts me. And that won’t happen until I act like the trustworthy caretaker it deserves.