Friday, July 24, 2009

Intuitive Eating "DuH" moment

I'm not a big milk fan. I actually can't stand the taste. I say this, because when I found myself craving a tall frosty glass of milk the other day, it was a serious WTF moment for me. Suddenly I realized that I've been ignoring my body's signals all week. Every day this week I've been craving ice cream, to the point where even the "faux-milk" ice cream at McDonald's was super tasty. I've been packing cheese sandwiches every day in my lunch, and even wanted one so badly some mornings that I made them for breakfast, too. I would eat bowls of cereal and drink the milk afterwards, and it would actually taste really, really good. But when that glass of plain milk popped into my head as an object of desire, I had to do a palm-to-forehead. I started taking calcium supplements.

Today? no dairy crave. A cheese sandwich actually sounds kinda gross today, for all it was so delicious yesterday.

Sure, in hindsight I should know that cravings, at least for me, generally mean something's missing. Especially if I crave something I'm not normally fond of. A few months ago I stopped taking Fish Oil supplements (for the simple reason of having run out and not being able to afford more until the next paycheck), and it took me a week to connect the sudden and highly unusual craving for fish (I normally HATE fish; even the smell makes me nauseous) with the fact that I had suddenly cut off my main source of Omega-3.

I suppose the goal is to get to a varied enough diet where the deficiency of something doesn't get bad enough to become an actual craving. After you're over the shock of being able to eat as much of anything you want, the body's signals become more subtle. Then again, there's many times I'm not specifically hungry "for" something, just hungry. Other times the budget and presence of leftovers have to overrule the craving, because it's not a perfect world and I can't always afford fresh basil and Kalamata olives.


At any rate, this is something of a Friday ramble, but I suppose my point is that Intuitive Eating is not a perfect or rigid process with set rules for everyone; It yields to the circumstances of each individual. If you're allergic to something you're craving, obviously you're not "cheating" or "breaking the rules" by not eating it. Like most holistic concepts, IE takes your whole self, budget, body, religious restrictions and all, into account. It's about being good to yourself, but going into debt or giving up other hobbies just to treat yourself with expensive foods isn't being good to yourself. Stressing out over what you "should" be eating isn't being good to yourself. Your life should not revolve around food, unless you're a professional chef. Even then you should have some hobbies that aren't food. If you work too hard at "following the rules" of Intuitive Eating, you might as well be back on a diet.

don't get me wrong, if I have a serious, persistent craving I can assume it's for a reason and try to find something within my means to solve it. If I'm really craving massive quantities of fresh spinach for several days, I might be able to make do with frozen broccoli or some other, cheaper iron-rich green that happens to be in the house already. If I just casually feel like steak one day, then whether or not I could have it would depend on the budget, the time, my energy levels, and whether or not something was already prepared.

Come to think of it, I don't eat a lot of meat, so if I was craving steak I'd probably consider it a sign that I needed iron or protein.

Just sayin :-)


Alix said...

I admire and envy how in tune you are with your body and nutritional cravings. It's an art, I tell ya.

I have the book "Intuitive Eating" by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and find its theories to be practical and sound. I also have the book "The 7 Secrets of Slim People" by Vikki Hansen and Shawn Goodman - it's concepts being similar/identical, but its delivery excruciatingly stupid. Assess your hunger on a scale of one to ten and only eat between a 3 and a five. Sorry, that's hogwash.

BUT - learning to read your body's own signals is a tremendous help to true intuitive eating. Maybe I'll get there some day if I stick to the most simplistic edict (eat only when you're hungry and stop when you're full).

Anonymous said...

You're reminding me of the friends who say they know they are really sick when Gatorade starts to taste good ;)

Mrs. M said...

I was recently diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency. My doctor said it was very common and can be a factor in fatigue, hormone issues and even depression. I've never been much of a supplement person, having heard too much hype, but my doctor said if you take anything, take D and if you don't take anything, take D. That's calcium with D, though I'm on that and straight D.

Intuitive eating is the only thing that makes any sense to me. I find if I know that I'll allow myself whatever I really want, I don't really want french fries or donuts. But that has to come from a place where I'd eat either if I really wanted them. NOT easy, but it works for me.

Anonymous said...

Intuitive eating still makes no sense to me. I to try to do everything so that it feels right, but I can't grok it. This morning I woke up at 6 with my stomach rumbling. First time in my whole life. Yes, I know I hadn't eaten for 12 hours, but that doesn't usually wake me up. So weird...

Anonymous said...

i make a point of giving into my cravings for the very reason you describe- i see it as a sign that my body needs something.
your blog is excellent!