If there were awards for feeling guilty around food and eating, I’d have one (or ten).
“Ooh I shouldn’t eat this… ooh I’ve had too much of that, I better be good for the rest of the day/week/month!”
Anyone would think I’d set fire to an orphanage. But no. I was just guilt-ridden for eating cakes and chocolate while holding the title of “registered nutritionist.” Sigh.
Before intuitive eating, that was my life – food-guilt and a whole lot of justification for my food choices.
(Nobody was asking, but hey, that didn’t stop me creating an entire conversation of answers to justify my food choices).
And then I discovered intuitive eating.
I couldn’t have been happier to read Principle 3: Make Peace With Food. Yasss!
No food is off-limits. No reason to feel guilty about eating sweet foods. It’s just food.
I dove into my new-found freedom head-first, comforted by others who’d been before me.
They reported, from the front-line, that you’d soon get sick of eating all the sweet stuff and eventually come back around to a more balanced way of eating.
Alright. Sounds good.
Only thing is… it didn’t happen that way for me.
I was stuck eating sweet stuff for what felt like a long time… tooooo long!
Why was I still gorging on chocolate and cakes and candy a year after I’d started intuitive eating? What the hell was wrong with me?!
I had clients that went through the process faster than me, I felt like a complete fraud.
Here they were – completely unshackled from food.
And me? I was still dragging around my sweet-food-obsession like a ball and chain around my ankles.
The headaches from the sugar, the pimple-outbreaks from the sugar, the sleepless nights from the sugar.
It was literally hurting my health and wellbeing and I desperately wanted to feel physically better.
I didn’t want to physically feel like that any more. But I couldn’t say no to the food.
Faced with that sugary food, I’d dig right in and eat piles of it again.
Then I’d get to the point where I’d decide, “this is enough, yes I’m eating intuitively, but tomorrow I’m not going to eat any more X, Y or Z, this has got to stop.”
Then as tomorrow dawned and I found myself eating even bigger PILES of X, Y and Z.
I realised I’d just accidentally started myself on a diet and caused a “last supper” incident.
How could I be doing intuitive eating so wrong? I’d given myself permission to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Why was I taking so long to move on? How much sugar did I need to consume, how many more headaches and pimple outbreaks did I need to battle my way through before I finally learned the lesson?
Why if I truly wanted to say no, did I keep saying yes?
Crikey, I was a failure at intuitive eating!
No, not a failure, I reminded myself, you can’t fail at intuitive eating, I was just a damn too-slow learner.
Like when my son was learning to read, and I’ve have to keep explaining the same words over and over again to him: the, to, the, to, the, to… would he ever learn?
Thing is, he did learn. One day, it all just clicked into place and he became an avid book-worm, reading his way up the book charts.
And for me and food – it took a small epiphany at the pantry door for everything to click into place.
Standing at the pantry door, consumed with guilt because I was stuck in a sugar obsession even while eating intuitively, I asked myself some tough questions.
Why am I making myself feel guilty about being back here again wanting sugar? I shouldn’t and didn’t need to feel guilty.
Okay. True. But I still wanted the sugar even though my body was telling me no more.
Why? I asked myself. Why do you want it right now?
The answer: Because I feel like I shouldn’t eat it tomorrow.
My guilt was not about wanting it right now, but worrying that I might want it again and again.
For me, I wasn’t stopping myself from eating it now. I was mentally putting pressure on myself to try and stop eating it again later.
And that pressure to stop later, was sabotaging my attempts to honour my “now” decision. I didn’t want the food NOW. I just wanted to know that I had the option to have it later if I wanted.
So I decided to remind myself at every opportunity, that my food-freedom was truly ongoing forever.
And I told myself at morning snack break:
“You can eat this sugary-delight for your morning snack, for lunch, for afternoon snack, for dinner, after dinner and tomorrow and the next day, you’re free to eat it whenever you want… so, do you still want it right now?”
And the shocking answer that came back from my brain? No, I actually don’t want it right now.
I was amazed!!!
The solution for me was not JUST GIVING MYSELF PERMISSION TO EAT IT NOW.
It was REMINDING MYSELF NOW CONSISTENTLY, THAT I HAD PERMISSION TO EAT IT AT ANY TIME TODAY OR TOMORROW.
I needed to remind myself daily, at every food opportunity, that I could have this specific food any time I liked.
When I reminded myself there was no deadline to when food-freedom would end, I suddenly didn’t need to load up on all the goodies today.
I could truly relax, knowing I could have whatever I wanted, anytime I wanted. And honour my body’s desire to say no right now.
And the weird thing is, while I’d always known that to be true in the beginning. It really didn’t SINK IN for me, until I started making it a habit to remind myself of this at every meal and snack time.
“You can eat chocolate now if you like, or later, or tomorrow, so do you really want some with your lunch now?”
After a year of eating chocolate at every lunch time, I suddenly stopped cold turkey and haven’t missed it at all.
Somewhere deep in my psyche I was worried about future restriction of my favourite foods. Is that a worry for you too?
Have a go at reminding yourself about your “ongoing freedom” at every snack and meal time.
Then – ask yourself what you truly feel like eating now, what would satisfy you, what would give your body what it needs too.
I hope and pray this helps you, because it’s been a HUGE help for me in my intuitive eating walk.