Leanne Nalani

{January 12, 2014}   The Quest for Balance – My Initial Intuitive Eating Experiences

I’m on a quest to find balance and restore my relationship with food. Today I’m talking about an experiment with intuitive eating. This is a topic that is fascinating and it is easy to be skeptical, so I apologize if I sound like a crazy person. I was skeptical and still am a bit, but so far it’s going very well. It’s all about listening to your body and getting away from the diet mentality.

As mentioned before, I read this book:


It inspired me to try something completely different and scary as hell, quite frankly. I didn’t realize how much I was restricting food until I read it. And then I started reading this book:


It’s the same idea. In fact, I am fairly convinced that the author of the first book got many of her ideas from the Intuitive Eating book. Most of the same ideas are addressed just using different language. The first book uses less formal language, different terms, and is more entertaining. The Intuitive Eating book is more in-depth and personally I find it the most useful.

No More Restricting Certain Foods

Part of phasing into the idea of intuitive eating is learning to allow ALL food no matter what. I didn’t realize how much of a diet mentality I have as I learned about this. I avoid many of my favorite foods because they are “bad”. The problem is that, the longer I go without letting myself have pad thai or cookie dough when I really want it is that I end up bingeing on it. Considering this is a major problem I’ve been trying to deal with over the past year, intuitive eating may be a good route toward balance for me.

Listening to Your Body/Eating What You Want

Another thing is to focus on listening to hunger signals and eating what you really want, as opposed to planning things out for the day and/or not allowing true choice in what to eat. I’ve always tried to avoid hunger like it’s some scary thing and always think that I need to eat the healthiest possible foods most of the time. This week it was refreshing to wait for hunger and respond to it with foods I wanted.

In the beginning you might end up eating a bunch of “bad” foods because it’s what you really want, but over time you will start wanting healthier foods. I was skeptical of a lot of things with intuitive eating and this was definitely one of them. Why wouldn’t I want to eat ice cream all day long forever? Apparently our bodies naturally guide us toward variety, which makes sense. Plus truly knowing that I can eat absolutely anything I want, even the foods I usually binge on, I’m no longer worried about never being able to have Velveeta Shells & Cheese or Chinese food ever again. No need for bingeing if I actually get to eat it.

Here’s some foods I ate this week that I wouldn’t normally eat:

M&M’s – Hungry at a professional development meeting. Watermelon or M&M’s… Hmmm which one to choose considering I don’t like watermelon… :p It actually tided me over, I didn’t end up eating each piece I took, and I enjoyed the hell out of them.

Cold Stone ice cream – Bad idea to eat it right before working out. Lesson learned.

Seafood Alfredo at an Italian restaurant.

Doritos with melted cheddar cheese and veggie chili – Hormel veggie chili doesn’t taste very good, I realize now that I’m actually tasting my food. Any Doritos without cheese on them got tossed.

Peanut butter & honey “sandwich” – We didn’t have any bread so I used a caramel corn rice cake. Where in the world did PB & honey come from? I haven’t had that since I was a kid. Normally I think honey is not to be consumed unless it’s in my granola bars as a sweetener.

Other foods – I continued to eat my morning granola bars and Greek yogurt and other foods we normally have in the house, so it wasn’t like I was eating junk food all week. It’s been extremely comforting to know that I can have these things and not gain weight, though! I even lost a couple of pounds this week.


So far, after less than a week, this experience has been scary yet liberating. Today during the football game (Go Seahawks!) Mike was considering ordering pizza and I would have been fine with that. In fact, I would have eaten some without worry, as long as I was hungry and wanted it. In the end he wanted brownies and I said I’d make them for him. If I was hungry and wanted one, I’d have one. He ended up buying the pre-made kind which I didn’t feel like eating, so I didn’t. I did have a Lean Pocket and a pinwheel cookie.


Mmmm Chocolate & Marshmallow

Of course this is just the beginning of this crazy experiment and it could all end up being something that doesn’t work out. If it does happen to pan out, I look forward to having a much healthier relationship with food.


Tara Jane says:

Hopefully this works for you! I think the big key to this approach is managing portion control – often I eat what I want, but then I just eat too much of it. 😛 That’s usually my downfall

Yep, that’s a big part. Well mostly it’s about eating until you are full and being able to push away the rest. I’m someone who always eats everything on my plate, but this week I’ve found myself putting leftovers back in the fridge! I rarely used to listen to my body before.

Tara Jane says:

That’s an awesome achievement! I think i am also someone who eats whatever is on my plate, so the bigger the plate and the bigger the serving the more I have to eat. It sounds like it’s a common thing 🙂

Me too. I’ve never been able to leave food on my plate. Today I spent so much time enjoying conversations with co-workers and savoring my lunch that I ended up leaving some of it in the lunch box because I was full. It was completely different and unexpected – Usually I scarf down my lunch in 5 minutes, chat a little, and then go back to the classroom.

A book I have been recommended but have not had a chance to read yet is called ‘A Guide to Flexible Dieting’ by Lyle McDonald. It might be something you would be interested in too. By the way, Peanut Butter is amazing & should be in everyone’s diet! Just eat in moderation – like 1T per day – a great source of healthy fats. Hope you enjoy your new flexibility!

Thank you for the recommendation! I will definitely take a look. I usually eat peanut butter every day, but not in a very satisfying way – I put a tablespoon of it on mountain bread which is a super thin, papery food. The only good part about it is the peanut butter! Time to start making sandwiches with real bread.

Tammy says:

Intuitive eating sounds so simple, but like you said, when you have an unhealthy relationship with food, it’s not so simple to practice (in the beginning, at least). It’s very liberating, though. The problem I had with it was that I have issues with portion control and hearing that “I’m full” signal. And although I don’t consider myself a binge eater, some foods do lead to triggering cravings for other foods. Like, if I eat pizza, I will crave something sweet like cake or ice cream after I eat it. So one “want” would lead to another and another and I would easily consume 2,000 – 3,000 calories in one sitting. Maybe not everyday, but often enough that I felt very out of control and that’s when I realized that I needed some boundaries. Now, I try to follow an 80/20 lifestyle. Some days it’s more 60/40, but when I have that 80/20 mindset, I feel like I have more control. I hope this works for you, though. Regaining a healthy relationship with food would be a dream come true. Best of luck!! 🙂

Those are good points. As I experiment with this I will have to watch for those extra cravings after eating certain foods.I think I am lucky to be able to sense my hunger and full signals pretty well, although sometimes I think I have phantom hunger that might not really be hunger. At least the “full” signal seems to be in good working order, because that’s a really big one.

Cassy says:

Nicely done! Definitely indulged a bit yesterday during the games (Bronco’s fan here!) but I planned on just having a day like that. My relationship with food is always a bit different since I am such an emotional eater. I normally don’t want foods that are on the more caloric side unless I am really emotional and then I just use food as a comfort… that is something I need to work on !

Me too. I didn’t realize that boredom eating was considered emotional eating and I didn’t know how much of an emotional eater I really am in general. It’s tough because the enjoyment of food is tied into our emotions so it’s hard to disconnect. One thing I read about is learning to sit with your feelings which sounds kind of difficult!

Cassy says:

Definitely something hard to think about… my emotions are so all over the place and sometimes I have no idea where they even come from! Eesh.

I don’t think I have the self discipline to follow this plan. Interesting topic.

Yeah it’s kind of a scary thing and the lack of structure and rules is something I’m not used to!

Good luck! It’s interesting…the other night I was craving a salad for supper. So I decided to have one. It must have been what my body wanted. Good thing it was healthy! My problem is if I eat the “bad” stuff too often, I just can’t stop. I definitely need to learn how to manage that.

That’s still a scary thing for me to think about, being able to eat the “bad” foods because of my track record of eating too much of it.
One thing that’s interesting is that I’ve been allowing myself to eat some of my favorite Cold Stone ice cream when I want and it seems to be taking that food off its pedestal. I don’t want it every day but know I can have it when I want it. I’m hoping that’s how this whole thing works out in the end – All those binge foods not feeling as special as they once did but still desirable occasionally.

It never fails that as soon as something is “off limits”, I am absolutely dying to eat it so I can see where this mentality could help. After years of screwed up about food, it’s going to take time to learn how to be “normal” but intuitive eating is probably a lot closer to normal than my current point tracking. 🙂 Maybe I’ll get there one day.

Yeah, for sure. I’ve spent a good 3 years tracking all my food now with 2 years maintaining a healthy weight and still tracking. This is probably a decent time for me to try something new. At least if it doesn’t work out then I can go back, but I’d love it if I could stop obsessing over food and numbers all the time.

Damn tons of comments! I know I’m not to the point of intuitive eating. I’ve been tracking my food for a couple of weeks and lost a little each week…but I have like 20 pounds to lose. Great job and keep up updated!

There was a time when I’d heard of intuitive eating and I wasn’t ready for it so I didn’t give it any thought. It’s becoming quite a rewarding process so far and it hasn’t even been 2 weeks! Since the IE authors say to put weight loss on the backburner, it is definitely not an approach to use if you’re focused on losing a specific number of pounds. That part is pretty scary because I’m worried about gaining weight.

[…] finished the Intuitive Eating book which I talked about here. Then I read Eleanor & Park which was awesome. Then I read Hyperbole & a Half by Allie […]

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