Friday, April 17, 2015

Lesson Learned: Intuitive Eating

For over a week, I have made significant progress in my eating habits resulting in significant weight loss (over 6 pounds).  I have taken the multitude of information I have learned from podcasts, blogs, and videos, and decided to do something about it, and apply it to my own life.  I have increased my carb intake and applied intuitive eating habits - both with great results.  All it took was one meal (yesterday’s lunch) to go back to my old habits, and I noticed an immediate negative effect.  I will first explain the habits I have changed, and then what I did wrong to obtain negative results.

I have heard many podcast interviews and read multiple blog posts indicating the potential requirement for some people to consume more carbohydrates than others.   The idea that some people could eat more than 20 to 50 grams per day, and still lose weight, seemed far-fetched to me.  Wouldn’t they have sugar cravings?  Wouldn’t they spike their insulin?  I knew that I would typically eat 20g/day up to 50g/day, without any negative side effects.  But I could never go beyond those limits.  I just KNEW I would gain weight immediately. 

The research seemed to point in the other direction – that not everyone experiences insulin spikes and weight gain when they increase their carbs to 100 to 125g/day.  The articles explained that some people eat very low carb (<25g/day) and experience moodiness, lack of energy/drive, and even sometimes weight gain.  Hey wait, that’s me!   Except for the weight gain and since going very low carb, I had experienced extreme moodiness and my energy levels were not much better than when eating sugar.  Don’t get me wrong, I still felt better than when I ate sugar, but not as much as I should -at least not as much as the people around me eating a normal Standard American Diet.  Here I am eating healthy and feeling like crap all the time, while everyone around me either eats like crap or eats the same diet as me and feels much better.  Every now and then I would experience a surge in energy, but it wouldn’t last more than a few hours, and it was weeks in between these experiences. 

So with all the information from professionals and my own experiences, I finally seen the big picture and decided that I never tried eating higher carbs, so I couldn’t very well rule it out.  So I took the plunge and decided I would allow myself lower glycemic fruit and starch, no more than 2x a day (3x on rare occasions).  For a snack I would allow strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, wineberries and for dinner I would have a sweet potato, potato, beets, plantains, etc.  I have even had post workout fruit and veggie smoothies (with fat!) and post dinner fruits to include dried figs, mango or dates.  Moderation was now the key to my success.  And you know what?  I have continually stayed in ketosis, without missing a beat, while increasing my carb allowance for the day, and losing weight.  Boo ya! 

In addition to increasing my carb intake, I have also been practicing intuitive eating.  Intuitive eating has been one of those things that most people have heard about, maybe even understand, but really never take the time to apply to their own life.  I was one of them – guilty as charged!  According to, the definition is “Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body--where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.”  I have come up with my own rules to try and establish better eating patterns, and they are as follows:

-          Only eat when hungry

-          Eat Slowly

-          Take smaller bites

-          Chew until there is nothing left to chew

-          Think about how the food tastes, feels and smells

-          Stop eating when full

Applying these thoughts while eating has allowed me to successfully stop eating when full, enjoy my food even more than I thought possible, avoid overeating, and even notice a difference in bowel movements. 

I have applied these two mentalities for over a week now, with amazing success, until yesterday’s lunch.  This is when I screwed up big time; but not without consequence.  I didn’t apply any of my intuitive eating patterns at all and in fact rushed through my lunch like a sprinter.  I ate rapidly; not paying attention to how the food tasted, smelled, felt on my tongue; nor did I eat slow, or even chew properly.  All in all, I had completely reverted back to my old habits. 

And the consequence?  Good and Bad!

Within an hour I was sluggish, mentally fogged, and felt completely drained.  I wanted to go home and go to bed.  I had no energy to get through the day, which is not good considering I ate at 11:30am and don’t leave work until 4:00pm.  And even then, I still had a workout session to attend.  Feeling completely exhausted, I instantly started in on the cravings.  I wanted sugars and sweets galore.  It’s all I could think about.  Not once for over a week and through eating lunch did I have one craving.  NOT ONE CRAVING!  But I overeat and WHAM!   They are back with a full vengeance. 

The worst part – I woke up this morning with a 1.4 pound gain.  I suppose this is what I deserve.  Part of me is very upset that I let myself slip and revert back to my old habits.  But the other part of me is ever so grateful for the experience.  How would I really have known that my new regiment of consuming higher carbs and intuitive eating is actually working? 

So yeah, it’s official.  I can eat higher carbs (no more than 100g/day), but I cannot go a meal without my intuitive eating patterns.  No way, no how!

Thank you for listening.  If this information helps you in anyway, please feel free to share. 

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