When you’re an Intuitive Eater, you love food. When you’re not an Intuitive Eater, your relationship with food can be less-than-pure.
This post is about becoming an Intuitive Eater.
Intuitive Eater Backstory
For the longest time, I’ve preached the gospel of Intuitive Eating and never knew it. The Karma Sense Eating Plan revolves around the concept of Intuitive Eating. Mantra #1, Eat Slowly and Stop Before You’re Full is almost the literal definition of Intuitive Eating. If one were interested in being healthier, happier and saving the world (and I know some people who are like that), it is possible to achieve all three solely by becoming an Intuitive Eater.
Today I walked into a business establishment that I frequent. There was a new employee at the front desk and the proprietor introduced me as “The famous Davey H.” I replied with typical humility by employing a customary self-deprecating “More like infamous.” But in my case, the self-deprecation is at least partially true as some of you who are about to hit the unsubscribe button will soon attest.
The proprietor, an early supporter and beneficiary of The Plan, went on to explain my mission and it’s manifestation in The Karma Sense Eating Plan.
The employee’s face was suddenly filled with despair as she apologized for eating a cookie.
At this point, I’m used to getting that reaction once people find out what I do. I’ve whined about it before.
In this most recent instance, my response was “It doesn’t matter to me what you’re eating at this moment and it shouldn’t matter to you either. You should never apologize or feel bad about your eating.” She didn’t understand. She didn’t know about the benefits of intuitive eating.
What Do Intuitive Eaters Know That the Rest of us Don’t?
(That’s right, “the rest of us.” In the world of Intuitive Eating, I’m no Black Belt).
Intuitive Eaters Know When They’re Really Hungry
“If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry.”
Sorry Michael Pollan, I love you but your Food Rule is not all that original. Mom’s have been saying this ever since the invention of moms in the Garden of Eden. They learned it from a snake. It’s a saying that stands the test of time because it’s 100% the truth (you know, like Mary Ann > Ginger).
If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple or some other über-nutritious and delicious real food, then something else is driving your hunger.
- Is it habit?
- Is it craving?
- Is it stress?
- Is it peer pressure?
- Is it boredom?
- Is it truly hunger?
An Intuitive Eater knows the answer to these questions and comes up with strategies to address the real condition as opposed to the false condition, hunger. You would not fix an overheating car by filling it’s gas tank. Why would you address an overstressed mind or body by filling your stomach?
There are good reasons to eat when you’re not hungry. For example, athletes time their meals to best suit their training and participation regardless of their hunger. Corporate warriors, sole proprietor entrepreneurs, and soccer moms and dads, all have to make these concessions as well. When they do so under the auspices of Intuitive Eating, they do it with knowledge and forethought.
Intuitive Eaters Love Food.
“Don’t look for a partner who is eye candy. Look for a partner who is soul food.”
Karen Salmonsohn, is a savant-author in the field of happiness. In the above quote, she uses food as a metaphor for the difference between lust and love.
Intuitive Eaters turn the metaphor around by applying lust and love to their relationship with food. When not eating intuitively, we tend to lust for food. We eat purely for the short-term carnal pleasure it provides. The bold flavors of those bacon-and-ranch-flavored-chocolate-covered-cheese-puffs light up every pleasure center in our mouths. Two seconds after we swallow, they leave us with an empty yearning. We miss that old feeling and grab another handful. They’re convenient. They’re delicious. They’re accessible. They’re cheap (in this case, I mean “inexpensive cheap” and “floozy cheap”). They are food porn.
The wording of Karen Salmonsohn quote is critical. It allows for the possibility of both types of feelings. It is possible to find a partner who is both eye candy and soul food (“I know this for a fact,” he said, watching Mrs. H blush as she reads this). But it’s the “soul food” part that makes you want to come back for more.
Intuitive eaters also appreciate that good food provides physical and emotional satisfaction and it does so both the short and long term.
Intuitive Eater Romance
Intuitive eaters come in from a 90 degree/90 percent humidity July day, after playing with their kids, working in the yard, walking in the neighborhood, or just relaxing outside and head to the refrigerator. They’re sweating. Their throats are parched. They open up the fridge and scan the shelves. Their mouths are so dry, they can barely speak. They eye a perfectly ripe peach in the fruit drawer and pull it out. BANG! Eue de’ peach fills their nostrils. As they walk to the sink to wash it, the slightest hint of saliva oozes out of the glands under their tongue. Just before putting it in their mouth, they lick their lips and can taste the salt that their sweat left behind. They take a bite and hear the POP as their teeth puncture the skin.
WOW! It’s so cold! It’s so sweet. It’s! SOOOOO! Good!
They chew that first bite and can feel that slightly disconcerting dry fuzz of the peach skin combine with the juicy sweet flesh each time they chew. They swallow and feel the remaining juice perform it’s lubricating kung fu as the masticated peach works its way down the esophagus.
Time for another bite and it’s a completely different yet satisfying experience. As Intuitive Eaters slowly work their way to the pit, they feel an unmatched sense of satisfaction. The saliva factory in their mouth is once again in full operation. Their hands are sticky and smell so strongly of that eue de’ peach, they’re reminded of that guy on the bus who always overdoes it with the cologne. Only this time, they are that guy.
That’s enough peach for one day. No peach could ever be as good. Until the next one.
Intuitive Eaters don’t do food porn. For them, eating is romance.
Being an Intuitive Eater Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
I feel so nauseous typing that quote, it’s as if I just polished off an entire bag of bacon-and-ranch-flavored-chocolate-covered-cheese-puffs. If you don’t recognize it, it’s a line from the book (and movie) Love Story. The two main characters of said story say it at various times during the film. Even more sickening is the horribly sappy Lettermen song (not Dave) now stuck in my head. But that’s the price I pay for making an obscure point and for having a brain muddled with trivia.
What’s really important here is that Intuitive Eaters know that their love of food is never a reason for an apology. When you love, you listen and you attend to your love’s needs. Intuitive Eaters listen to their body before, during and after they eat. They know when they’re hungry. They know what food will satisfy that hunger. They know the perfect time to end a meal.
The best food stories are love stories. Think about the details of that finely curated meal with friends at a favorite restaurant. Bask in the warm glow of an amazingly simple yet gratifying collaboration in the kitchen with a loved one. Recall the feeling of that cold, ripe peach on a brutally sticky day.
Of course, every love story includes some dose of conflict. Even the best Intuitive Eaters may find themselves arm-deep into a now-empty bag of bacon-and-ranch-flavored-chocolate-covered-cheese-puffs eaten as a distraction from an uncomfortable situation. Do they feel bad about it? No. They note the cues that brought them to that result. They observe whether their binge addressed the cause. They stow their discoveries in their Intuitive Eating virtual thumb drive, and they move on. No apologies. No regrets.
Intuitive eaters are never sorry about what they eat because they are at peace with all the feelings that led them to eat in the first place
Which brings me back to…
The Intuitive Eater Backstory
And so the employee asked, “Why shouldn’t it matter what I eat now? Cookies are bad, right?”
“At the time you eat a cookie, they’re neither good nor bad.” I replied. “All that matters is how and what you feel while eating that cookie and what you do about those feelings the next time you encounter one.”
And besides that seeming like a line directly from the closing scene of the 1970s series Kung Fu, it is also the essence of the Intuitive Eater.
Snatch this pebble from my hand.
I’m on The Intuitive Eater Bandwagon
I’m all-in with Intuitive Eating. It is a left-brain, right-brain solution to many nutrition challenges. Do you want to learn more?