This whole intuitive eating thing is…interesting.
The truth is, I haven’t read the book yet. I want to. But it also feels too similar to reading a diet book. The last diet book I read was by Jillian Michaels. It was one of those “if you’re craving this, it means your body is lacking this, and you should eat this instead.” It was the one that led to my summer of sub-800 calorie eating days.
Yesterday I realized how insane that was. If I’m craving something I should just eat that something. There’s probably a reason I’m craving it.
It’s interesting but it’s also weird.
Weird because I’m a lot more aware of food than I have been in a while. My counselor (who also serves as my therapist sometimes…trying to steer her back to the counselor role though) says that the idea is being awake, making conscious decisions, instead of auto-piloting my way through life.
And that’s so accurate.
A couple of days ago, I realllllly wanted Nutella. I was sitting in my car when the craving hit. I could smell its distinct nutty smell. I could sense the smooth texture on my tongue. I could so keenly imagine having that spoonful of hazelnut cocoa goodness.
For the first time in years, I let myself go to the store and buy this Nutella with the intention of having one spoonful not the nihilistic plan to consume the whole jar even if it makes me want to throw up.
So I went. I felt slightly self-conscious that all I was buying was a jar of Nutella, so I went the self-checkout line. I bought my Nutella. I took a long, windy route back home. And by the time I got there the craving was gone. I contemplated having the spoonful just to communicate to my brain that Nutella was not off limits. Instead I just put the jar in the cupboard next to the peanut butter and headed to bed. It’s still there. Untouched.
Last night, I had a similar hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich. But a very specific grilled cheese sandwich (that I don’t know where to find). I was dying for this flaky, golden exterior. This soft bread right beneath it. And the most ooey-gooey luxuriously rich cheese I could imagine. I looked up “best grilled cheese” in Portland. And found a place that seemed potentially worthy of the title…that was already closed for the day. I thought about going to buy alllll the ingredients for the perfect sandwich (ok ok I’ve made it before) but realized then I would have a whole loaf of bread (that would probably get moldy), a whole lot of cheese (that would probably get moldy), and a stick of butter when all I really wanted was just one grilled cheese sandwich.
So I told myself if I still have this craving tomorrow, I will go to the place I found for lunch and get my much desired grilled cheese sandwich. And I went home and made some parsnip noodle caccio e pepe. And that was another craving laid to rest.
What intuitive eating has finally freed me to do, is to embrace my cravings – not necessarily fulfill them. It used to be that when a craving hit, I tried my best to ignore it and hope it would go away. I would eat other things to try tot forget it. And eventually I would succumb to it. Dramatically. And indulgently. And sometimes over-indulgently.
Now, instead, I really focus on the craving. On exactly what it is I want. If I can get it, great! I can enjoy it. Mindfully. But if I can’t, it’s no big deal. Because food is food and it doesn’t need to be enjoyed 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s just needed for sustenance.
PS I know some of you are like, duh, food is food. In which case, you lucky bastards, enjoy your life because for some of us food is a whole lot of things other than food. Which makes things totally messy sometimes.