I recently had to negotiate the train system in a large city where I had no knowledge of the language. A friend of my son graciously offered to help. Between trains we had a chance to have lunch and get to know each other. I’ll call her Mary.
At the cafeteria luscious desserts stretched in front of us. Mary selected a tart after careful consideration. I decided to wait on a dessert selection, as my hunger was focused on protein. We then proceeded to the hot food and made our choices there.
After an interesting conversation I noticed that Mary hadn’t eaten much of her entree, but was relishing the tart, slowly nibbling small bites. In the meantime I had cleaned my plate and was considering whether to go back for dessert.
I asked if she had enjoyed the food.
She said she liked the chicken and rice very much, and the broccoli not so much. She said that she had eaten until she felt satisfied being sure to leave enough room for the dessert. Knowing I work with women and eating she then observed that she sometimes gets comments about not finishing her food and her sweet tooth. Should she try to eat differently, she asked.
Absolutely not, I said, followed by do you know how many people pay coaches to teach them how to eat like you?
Mary’s eating was spot-on intuitive. She knew what she liked and didn’t. She chose her sweet carefully and savored it. She was in touch with her hunger and fullness. She left what she didn’t enjoy and knew how much of the entrée it took to satisfy her while leaving room for dessert. And she doesn’t feel guilty about her eating choices.
For my own part, I decided that the entree was enough. My hunger was satisfied so I passed on dessert knowing that there would be many more opportunities in the coming week. Truthfully, if the meal had been larger I probably would have eaten more driven by the anxiety of the trip. And that would have been ok too.
There are many ways to eat healthily. Your hunger – both physical and emotional – changes each day. Eating exactly what you want and how much you want is the essence of intuitive eating. If you’re still hungry, have a bit more. And if you’ve had enough, ignore those old messages about needing to clean your plate. Feel free to prioritize your food so that you have room left for the part of the meal you most want. And most of all, lose any guilt you have over your food choices.
This is eating in a way that encompasses the intuitive eating skills of pleasure, presence, and permission. It was wonderful to observe in action.
If you would like to talk about how to better embrace intuitive eating, get on my calendar here (and if you need another time, fill out the contact form). I’ve got no agenda other than better understanding my readers.
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This week I’m reading The Eating Instinct – Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole-Smith. If you are struggling with intuitive eating, eating choices, or with feeding children, this is a great read. The griping opening story of Virginia’s infant daughter’s refusal to eat puts everything in perspective. I’ll admit that I had no idea that there was such a thing as infantile anorexia.
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