Intuitive Eating and Pleasure
Saturday, June 15, 2019
OK, this is emerging as a key insight for me. I underline, for ME. May not make a whole lotta sense to anyone else. May be a huge DUH for lots and lots of people.
But: here it is.
Intuitive eating is based upon the principle that I can eat whatever I want whenever I want, to the point of mild fullness and satisfaction. And then stopping. Because I can eat again whenever I want and whatever I want. So long as I stop when I'm full. Keeping in mind, of course, that healthy food like fresh raspberries and sweet cherry tomatoes is always actually more pleasurable than cheap manufactured chemical food . . . those salty greasy potato chips are actually more compelling conceptually than in actual consumption . . .
Which means: Eating beyond the point of mild fullness does not contribute to greater pleasure.
And more than that? Eating beyond the point of mild fullness DOES contribute to sharp diminution of pleasure.
I'm all about the pleasure. Human beings are addicted to those hits of dopamine from pleasure. I'm a human being.
Eating is pleasurable.
In the past, I ate too much because I did not want the pleasure of eating to end.
But . . . guess what. The pleasure of eating DOES end. When I'm full. Whether I pay attention to the cessation of that pleasure or not.
Mechanically shovelling in more food because I've planned to eat the food and I've weighed and I've measured the food and I've counted the calories and the fat and the protein and the carbs and the vitamins and the minerals and because I've exercised vigorously and burned calories and I'm "entitled" to the food --- doesn't create pleasure..
Yes, I had used the Spark nutrition tracker pretty obsessively for almost a decade, since 2009. Yes, I have been counting calories off and on since I my first diet when I was about 12. I "know" the calorie counts for hundreds of foods. Yes, I had been especially rigorous about counting calories since 2000-2001 when I lost "all the weight": that 90 pounds or so that brought me down from my all-time high of 240 to about 150. Rigorous to the point of obsession.
Why? I counted calories and ate ALL my allocation every time because otherwise I was fearful. Fearful that I would become hungry before the next allowed meal. "Hunger is not an emergency," I told myself.
I'm not telling myself that any more. Genuine hunger IS an emergency!! Radical thought!! And when I get hungry again, whether it's "meal time" or not, I can ask myself what I want to eat. And eat it. So long as I treasure the pleasure of the food. Attend to approaching fullness. And stop.
Because that's when the pleasure stops.
Eating beyond the point of mild satisfaction and fullness means that the food no longer smells good. The food no longer tastes good. The textures of the food no longer feel good.
It's not pleasurable. And feeling over full??? Gahhhhhhh. Stuffed feels terrible!! Eating myself into a coma, till my eyeballs squeak -- as I regularly did at my highest weight? Means I cannot experience the pleasure of anything else at all.
Sure, I've always known "intellectually" that there are many other sources of pleasure in my life. Beyond food. But: I've still over-valued "eating pleasure". Beyond the point of pleasure!
This morning I walked around the wet garden and picked fresh flowers for the kitchen table. Some white ivy geranium. Some mauve dame's rocket. One last deeper purple allium. Some buttercups.
I've got most of the way through the laundry -- enjoying the scent of the detergent and feeling good about hanging up the shirts in my fresh laundry room on the hanging rack as they come out of the dryer and putting away my clean undies for another week.
I've read most of the Saturday paper with interest and attention and pleasure.
I've chatted with DH -- such a nice man! -- who has headed out to the golf course for his Saturday morning game with his guy friends.
I'm going to the gym -- have chosen my "after my workout" Saturday outfit!! including some silly flare denims and new blue suede espadrille mules -- and then the library and then probably picking up a few more plants for my garden.
Wrapping some gifts . . . which I shopped for last evening. Yup, got those new shoes for me too!
Groceries -- including ingredients for a vegan birthday cake for my "Father's Day" daughter who will be coming for supper tomorrow. A double celebration . . . .
All good stuff.
Maybe as a little person there were not a lot of pleasures in my life. Lots of fears. The food on offer was not particularly pleasurable and there was quite a bit of control around what food I was "allowed" but . . . there was food. (There were birds and flowers and books and music and art and sports and my sister and friends and other kind adults too . . . important to remind myself of that! Life saving, for sure. )
Now in the present, there are STILL all those childhood life-saving pleasures, and many other pleasures in my life: beyond food. There have been for many decades. Thankfully. I am consciously aware of those pleasures. I don't suppose I will ever cease to be aware of those pleasures.
But I'm realizing, with greater calm and confidence than ever before, that eating beyond mild satisfaction is in fact NOT pleasurable. Not pleasurable in and of itself. And effectively subtracting from all the other pleasures present in my life in abundance: for the noticing and for the enjoying.
My breakfast this morning was, again, delish -- a smallish omelette with a sprinkle of minced fresh basil on top and fresh ground black pepper.
But: even though I'd made a smaller serving, still more than I needed or wanted. And I stopped eating.
My exercise post-bronchitis has been gentle: gradually stepping back up. It's been several weeks since I've felt well enough for a strength training workout. I will take it easy and stop when I've had enough and enjoy it. Enjoy it much more because -- I'm not starting from a place of feeling over full.