What to Eat as an Intuitive Eater

by nina on February 25, 2013

intuitive eating what to eatThis week I have had several people asking a very similar question – “what do I eat”. Quite often I avoid answering this question because i do not want to “confuse” you or “trigger” you with food talk, but I think it is time to address this question once and for all.

Hi Nina,

It would be so helpful to me if you could create some video’s on what you eat and buy as this could give me some ideas of where to start. My whole life has been a history of eating disorders but i really really went to break this now. I’m 34 years old with three lovely kids. I think it’s about time i lived my life properly.

Thank you so much for all your help and support,you have been my light and the end of a dark,dark tunnel,
Love Leila
xxx

Dear Leila,

It has now been 7 years since I have been recovered from all eating disorders and living as an “intuitive eater”. I use the term “intuitive eater” loosely because I know that it is a “branded” name – and not my own branding, but for the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion, I do use the term as I feel it is appropriate and relevant.

However, I know that there is a lot written about Intuitive Eating (which I do NOT read, so I have no idea what the techniques related to this are and I do not endorse anything that I know nothing about)

I can only speak from my own personal experience and what I have been through.

The Beginning of Intuitive Eating

When I started intuitive eating I was basically a terrified child. I had NO idea what I was doing, I only knew that I wanted to BE a “normal eater” (that is my own term, as vague as it sounds, I think it hits the mark).

I practiced slowly and treated myself like a real child.

I would say (embarrassing) things like “baby what do you want to eat today? “Ok Nina what do you really feel like eating, I am going to take care of you and give you whatever you really want – no more diets and punishing restrictive eating”

So I ate things that I remember eating and enjoying as a child – sandwiches were my main thing, smoothies and shakes, pizza, some chocolate (although I realized this was never a big thing for me), pancakes for breakfast, pasta and even “healthy label” food like brown rice and tofu (still one of my favorite things to eat.

The Challenges and Trusting My Intuition

If you feel like you are “doing it wrong” – join the club. I doubted my decisions a lot, I could not comprehend that the food that I labeled as “unhealthy” and “bad” for so long were actually acceptable.

I had to let go of the good versus bad, right versus wrong, acceptable and unacceptable.

As long as I was aligned with this black and white thinking – I was playing a “no win game”. I would always end up in shame, despair and doubting my inner wisdom.

Just Keep Going With Intuitive Eating

You want me to tell you that it is a quick process, right? Well yes and no. It can be as quick or as slow as you let it be. If you are stuck in dieting, pseudo dieting, black and white thinking and trying to control your food and weight, the process will be slow.

It is the great paradox of “the more we let go, the more we are able to experience true freedom”

As the years went on, I became more comfortable with eating out at restaurants, not noticing the “calorie” content, adding more food that I actually liked.

Feeling Like You Are Screwing it Up

There were days where I felt like I had ‘screwed it up”, that I was overeating, that I would never “get this”.

There were days when I ate nothing but “prohibited, non-diet” food for weeks on end. Chips, ice cream, pasta, pizza for days and weeks. But here is the catch – i always felt satisfied and slowly my obsession and compulsion lessened, as did my control over my weight. Consequently there was no change in my weight, more space in my mind to do soul inspired things, greater connection with people and a building of my own intuitive forces. That is the great payoff.

Seven years later my food choices are a little different, but ten underlying pronciple is still the same – “Nina, what do you feel like eating right now?”

I trust that whatever comes up is honoring my body and I do not second guess it. It may be an egg sandwich, a whole pizza, ice cream, brown rice with spinach and chick peas, a Lara bar, soem juice, fresh fruit or brussel sprouts. Whatever it is, I go with it. I do not have the luxury of allowing that “critical” eating disorder voice to guide my decision making process. It is what it is, and if I am to stay true to myself, my body and my path, I accept it without question or judgment.

What Does Your Intuitive Eating Look Like Today?

So now I want to ask you.

Are you still holding on to dieting, pseduo dieting, control techniques, old ways of managing your food and weight?

Honesty will set you free – either in your notebook or in the comments below. i would love to hear your experience and for it to be shared among the rest of the community that is on the same path to recovery.

Own your voice, share with us, tell us your experience and where you are at. We heal through our openness and honesty with others…

Love Nina :)

 

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda March 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Ok, so, first of all, I want to state that nearly 5 yrs ago, I lost over 70 lbs, and in short order too! Thing is, I have been familiar with programs who tell you to eat when you are hungry, stopping before full………but have never been that successful with them, because, just like a diet, there’s still those damned rules, such as ‘when you are hungry, eat off of a tiny plate’ or, ‘do not eat until your stomach is growling’………

Anyhow, I was going through a divorce and separation, being on my own since I was 19, which was some time ago!

I have no appetite. I never even really thought about food, for the first time in my life. I ate only when I was hungry, and not all that much.

In time, I met someone else, but I will say that slowly, as it the news that he was a putz started to surface, I was getting depressed, as in my marriage, and once again, eating became the method of choice to alleviate those feelings.

But, I felt SO damned good when I was thin. Also, menopause has hit me like a sledgehammer. I have regained about 30 lbs in total, and have tried not to freak out totally and revert to destructive habits from long ago ( I used to binge/purge in my early 20′s).

So, without being TOO sure what Nina’s method involves (I just purchased the program last night) I have decided to hell with it, I’m just going to eat when I get hungry, NOT starving, and I will really try to ask what I’m hungry for.

SO far, it’s been surprising. Oranges. I have had 4 oranges in the past 3 days, but it’s what I want, along with 1/2 sandwich, or a small fish dinner.

I have ate some Ghiardelli choc chips, but I have to say, that makes me very nervous. I fear eating TOO much when I’m delving into the area of the ‘forbidden’.

I just want to get back to where I was 5 yrs ago. For me, it was a size 12. I am big boned, will never be a single digit size and I honestly don’t care about that anymore. I looked great in a size 12, an no one thought I was that size, they guessed me at a 10.

I just hope that this program, and whatever is going on with my hormones, can work together to get me where I need to be! ;)

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Michele February 28, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Nina, I just want you to know that in May, I will have been binge-free for two years, thanks to you. And this is after 30 YEARS of dieting and binging. I have truly become a normal eater.

Your question to yourself “What do you feel like eating right now?” is the most important question I ever learned to ask myself. Up to that point, I had always relied on some past authority to tell me what to eat (Dr. So and So says “Eat this, not that”). Or I looked to some future reward (I’ll buy these cupcakes for later to reward myself for being good all week.).

Asking myself “What do I really want?” brought my eating into the present moment where it always should have been. And by not making some foods better or worse than others, I shut off the voice of orthorexia in my head, which was a major binge trigger.

These days, I eat whatever I want (chips, apples, cheese, pizza, ice cream, salad, spinach, carrots, cookies). I can’t believe I’m actually typing this. It’s amazing to BE a normal eater. I never thought it would happen to me.

Bless you for your commitment to sharing your personal healing. You’ve helped so many of us heal as a result.

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nina March 2, 2013 at 4:01 am

Michelle!

That is AMAZING!

I want you to know how much I appreciate your message and am so humbled by your wisdom and recovery

I would love to publish your full story on the site if you are interested

Thank you for sharing that!! You are incredible & an inspiration to everyone here – including me!

Love Nina

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Michele March 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I’d be happy to share my story and how much your book helped me. Just let me know where to post it. I’m new to the blogosphere.

Michele

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Leila February 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm

The more i’m letting go of the control Nina the more I can feel the obsession going!This mourning was the first time in years that I got up and actually didn’t have FOOD on my mind.I’m starting to stop following the rules that I have in my head.For example for years I always have an apple at 10.30,breakfast has also always been the same.Sometimes I would eat these things out of habit and actually really didn’t feel like it.This mourning I said to myself why do you have to eat an apple at 10.30am,who made this rule.What do you want Leila?I havn’t asked myself that in years!Recovering from anorexia has meant that i’ve been following food plans but with your help Nina and may God bless you for without it i would have been so lost!I an now starting to listen to my body and the binge feelings are starting to die down.Of course I still have hard times but now i recognize the voice and fight back with deep breathing,yoga and prayer.Love you loads Nina.xxx

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Emily February 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Girls, don’t listen to the voices, listen to your body. Voices are what got you an ED in the first place, while bodies don’t have a voice – they just ARE. It’s about the feeling of hunger, not the voice of hunger…

Imagine you were hitting your head with a hammer – would you wait for a voice to tell you it’s time to stop or trust your feeling of pain to stop?!

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nina February 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Brilliant response Emily!!

Everyone – PLEASE READ THIS

Love Nina :)

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Linda February 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I’m still hoping that Nina will address if intuitive eating means that you eat only small amounts to assuage hunger.

This is very important to me, as I’m struggling with how much to eat when I do eat.

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Leila February 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I can really relate to what Eve has said.There are many different voices in my head also and trying to find the right one is sometimes very difficult.I have done the thing where i have gone out and brought all my fear foods but now i am dealing with something else as coming out of anorexia has left me with strong urges to binge and having those binges has taught me that this will take time.My body does not trust me yet and although i need to gain weight i do not want to go back to eating in an unhealthy way.Normal eaters tend to eat everything but i’ve observed that they mostly eat nourishing food and enjoy everything in moderation.When you have an eating disorder you tend to go from one extreme to another and this is what i’ve become aware of.However i am learning more about myself everyday and feeling a lot more positive.This is why i feel that maybe Nina can give us some tips on what foods to start with as for some of us just eating what we want can make the problem worse.

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Therese February 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I received your “Eating Disorder E Book” 10 days ago. I have not binged in 10 days! Sense I learned about eating intuitively, I have broken free of my ED! I eat everything I love to eat. There are no good foods and bad foods! I only eat when I feel hungry, but I listen to my body and what it wants to eat! I stop when I am full and satisfied. Six months ago, I lost 40 lbs. counting calories, and then my body began to react by excessive hunger and binging urges. I was so afraid of food and that I was going to put back on, the weight I had lost. I am so grateful I found this website in time! I love what Nina says…”No One meal will make you fat. It just doesn’t happen.” This is absolutely true! I can tell that I am not gaining weight, because my clothes still fit, and I can feel my body regulating. I have also put away the scales! I no longer let what I weigh determine how I feel about myself, or how my day will go.! I am so very excited about my future! If I have a bad day, and fall down, I will pick myself up and continue doing what I KNOW is right…intuitive eating!

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nina February 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm

That is AMAZING Therese!!
You are a true inspiration

Sending you so much love and support

Nina :)

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Therese February 27, 2013 at 12:24 am

Thank you, Nina! I still have a lot to learn yet. I need help with thinking about food all day, and compulsive exercising. I understand this will take time. The important thing is that I am finally getting the help I need! I know I am on the right track! God bless you for sharing your wisdom & insights with us! I refer to my E-Book many times a day, for support and strength. And, of course, I love your videos and my e-mails from you! Many, many thanks!:)

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Linda February 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I have been very familiar with similar programs, such as Weigh Down Diet by Gwen Shamblin or Thin Within by Judy Wardell Halliday.
Thing is, Weigh Down advocates waiting until you are hungry, or your stomach growls as your cue to eat, but, once that happens, they want you eating off of a tea cup saucer for God’s sake!
It can be very difficult to wait until you are truly hungry to eat, but I’m getting tripped up by eating such tiny amounts!
These programs tell you to eat only until your hunger pains go away……….so I’m wondering Nina, if your program is the same?

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nina February 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Hi Linda,

I never look at other programs so I know nothing about them.
In fact my recommendation is to not look at all these different programs – the only one that you need is WITHIN YOU.
Learn to listen to yur body. Drop the “good” vs “bad” food thinking.
Size, portions, meal times, weighing, measuring, etc etc is just the eating disorder in action.
Let it go.
Listen to your body, tune into your inner voice that knows, trust yourself – your body and intuition is much smarter than any program.
Why do you thin 98% of all diets and programs fail?
Because they DO NOT work and they either keep people spending money or – for people like us – keep us stuck in eating disorder hell.

Hope that helps
You have the answers

True and Complete recovery is possible

Love Nina :)

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Linda February 28, 2013 at 2:00 am

Oh Sistah, tell it!

Yes, some of these programs are ‘spiritually’ based, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it can be a good thing, BUT, honestly, it just seems as if another set of rules!

I mean, do THIN people eat off of a tea cup saucer? I doubt it.

You know Nina…..I have a memory from over 20 yrs ago…..it has always stuck with me…….don’t know if it’s good or bad, correct or not………..but I was a manager for a women’s clothing store then, and I had a young, very cute, very thin employee, 17 yrs of age.

One day, she kept saying, on and off “Oh Linda, I’m STARVING! I am SO hungry!”

SO I told her, well, go ahead and eat!!!

But no…………..she said that she wanted pizza logs when she got home. Her Mom had just laid in a big supply, and she kept expressing how good those pizza logs were going to taste when she got home, and she didn’t want to ‘ruin’ it by eating, since she was so hungry for them.

Now, if that were me, Girl?

I would’ve made sure I ate when the very first hunger pang hit! lol

The next day, she said that she was stuffed after eating them, but she said they were fabulous!!!

Perhaps how the thin eat?

One more quick example.

Around the same time, my ex husband’s aunt, very thin, came over for pizza. She could barely get through ONE large slice! I was astounded, as I ate my third piece, when she said she didn’t want another one, because she hated to be ‘uncomfortable’.

Why did I never learn from these examples?? Obviously I’ve never forgotten them! lol

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Leila February 26, 2013 at 10:12 am

Leila
I am finding it very hard to let go of my eating rules. I often get excited and say to myself how wonderful it would be to just listen to my body and eat what i want.The problem is because i have just come out of anorexia some of these fear foods are things i havn’t eaten for a long time so i become afraid and have even binged on them for a few weeks,but here’s the thing now it’s like i’ve woken up.I found that a lot of the fear foods actually made my body feel crap!I am a lot more confident in choosing what to eat than before.I’ve noticed that i tend to binge eat in the evenings if i’ve denied my body what it wants through out the day.It has been very tough to take these steps and i couldn’t have done it without your help Nina but although i’m slipping and sliding i do feel like a child and am slowly learning what agrees with my body and what doesn’t.

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eve February 26, 2013 at 5:59 am

Whenever I ask myself what I would like to eat I have a lot of different voices answering and I don’t know which of the voices is the right one to follow. My ED voice is very powerful and very skilled in disguising as the real voice, however, it tricks me over and over again. And yet, I have no voice telling me when to start eating and no voice telling me when to stop eating. My ED is whispering to me that I can go on and on and on as this is what my body needs. But this is my ED, not my real voice.
The concept of intuitive eating makes a lot of sense but it works only when I have learned to distinguish between these various voices talking to me and I don’t know how to that. In practice: I cannot go to the shop whenever I feel hungry and then see what I need or want, I cannot afford eating out so I need to decide from the things available and sometimes this might not be the food I want (or whatever voice in myself wants). If I have a huge variety of foods at home, the possibility of eating them all at once is very big, because a strong voice tells me that it is ok to eat all this pretending to be my intuitive eater’s voice.
I’ve gained a lot of weight, have felt physically sick and really don’t know what to do.

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Linda February 27, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I can understand what you mean by wanting to eat all foods at once, that’s for sure!

Thing is, though sometimes not easy, I can wait until I get hungry to eat, but boy, when I start to eat, it’s hard to not want to eat everything, because, well, I’m hungry!

I almost feel that I don’t want to ‘waste’ the hunger, if you get me…….it can sometimes take most of the day to get hunger pangs and who knows when I’ll get them again?

I wish I could just have a small portion and be happy with it. :)

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Nat February 26, 2013 at 4:03 am

I’m not sure about how “intuitive” I am as an eater, I had an ED, I’m currently studying Nutrition and Dietry and I do love my stuff, but ofc it makes me think a lot and I’m constantly evaluating myself or asking for evaluations and appointments at College…Maybe it is a mix of everything I guess, my constant obsession, my studies at College, my willings of finally healing, idk…Sometimes I’m just tired! Recently I decided I didn’t want to know how much I weigh for example, and even though I made/calculated myself a diet…I’m not that engaged to it, I kind of try to feel a little bit more free or use my diet just as a “guide”…

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nina February 27, 2013 at 10:02 pm

It can be difficult to heal and recover when you are surrounded by food, nutrition advice, etc.
Maybe you could use your experience to heal and heal others with an eating disorder.
I am sure that many people who are looking for advice on “diets and nutrition” may have an eating disorder in disguise.

Be the change you want to see!

Love Nina :)

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Nat February 28, 2013 at 1:40 am

Yeah, I guess it is what I feel I’m triángulo and what I want to do…thank you so much, nina

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