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Intuitive eating and calorie counting

Forever trying to find ways to lose weight in a sustainable manner (aka trying to make a lifestyle change), I stumbled upon intuitive eating the other day and I decided to give it a try. The only thing is, the main tenant of intuitive eating is no restriction, and I feel like if I try to incorporate calorie counting with intuitive eating, then it wouldn't really be intuitive eating . . . it would just turn into plain old calorie counting.

Plus, trying to eat intuitively while measuring out all of my portions is a bit inconvenient.

Any advice?
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Replies

  • lightenup2016
    lightenup2016 Posts: 1,048 Member
    I guess you can eat intuitively and don't log it all until late at night or the next day. But then you run the risk of forgetting to add in everything you ate.
  • GoCleanGoLean
    GoCleanGoLean Posts: 71 Member
    CMNVA wrote: »
    One of the reasons that I am here on MFP is because my ability to eat intuitively is broken. That's probably how most of got to be overweight. It was only when I started really logging and watching everything I put in my mouth, that I got better about eating intuitively.

    If you have weight to lose and an "off" perception about portion size, personally, I don't think you can intuitively eat. I do think that you can do MFP (calorie counting) for a few months, figure out it's working, and then switch over to something like that. I believe it is a concept that works well in maintenance.

    Why don't you think you can intuitively eat?
  • The problem with intuitive eating and maintaining weight is that we are, at a base level, hard-wired to seek out high-calorie, fat/sugar dense foods... which are now abundantly available to us in never-before seen proportions. See the issue?

    In my very, very (admittedly) judgmental opinion, intuitive eating as practiced by most people is an excuse to eat whatever they want and not feel guilty about it.
  • crzycatlady1
    crzycatlady1 Posts: 1,930 Member
    edited February 2017
    I've tried it and re-gained weight. In theory it sounds nice but realistically it doesn't work for me.
  • bethanyka
    bethanyka Posts: 170 Member
    edited February 2017
    I read a few books on this topic. If you check in with yourself.. before eating.. then after every bite... "Am I still Hungry?, on a scale from 1-10, how hungry"... this can for sure work.
    But it takes being fully aware that most of our 'impulse eating' comes when we probably aren't that hungry, thus the extra calories. None of us would need to lose weight if we only ate when legitimately hungry.
    My opinion, IF you can get your mindset there, you won't need to be strict on counting calories.

  • Tacklewasher
    Tacklewasher Posts: 7,131 Member
    If you can lose weight with intuitive eating, then go for it. But I'm of the opinion that those who are overweight can't lose weight with intuitive eating, or we wouldn't be overweight to begin with.

    My wife doesn't need to count and eats intuitively. She is also in the healthy BMI range.

    It's a nice idea.
  • Sara1791
    Sara1791 Posts: 760 Member
    If you're new to this, I'd count calories while paying attention to how you feel when you eat, when you want to eat when not hungry, learn coping skills to deal with non-hunger related eating cues, and what normal, satisfying portions look like. Learn what physical hunger feels like. Then, down the road, you can dip your toe in the water of intuitive eating with some tools in your belt.

    One thing to keep in mind with intuitive eating - if it works, it likely works best for maintenance. You are eating to hunger cues to sustain your current weight. To lose, you might need to feel a little hungry.

    Anyway, that's what I'm doing. I've counted calories for over a year and now I am experimenting with logging less and less, while keeping a careful eye on my weight and making sure I don't go wild with freedom. For now, I still plan to log a few days a week and, and in high stress times like holidays and birthdays, and of course if I see my weight creeping up. Maybe I'll change my mind in a few days/weeks/months, but this seems manageable to me right now.
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,891 Member
    edited February 2017
    The problem with intuitive eating and maintaining weight is that we are, at a base level, hard-wired to seek out high-calorie, fat/sugar dense foods... which are now abundantly available to us in never-before seen proportions. See the issue?
    This is actually a very important issue! For intuitive/mindful eating to work, our food environment has to resemble - to some extent - the one we evolved with. Food has to have a nutrition:taste:calorie ratio that doesn't make our brains catch fire. I purposely mold my own food environment into one of slight scarcity - when I buy "simple single real food ingredients" and leave the junk in the store. This food nourishes me for the right amount of calories - I can eat to satiety.

    In my very, very (admittedly) judgmental opinion, intuitive eating as practiced by most people is an excuse to eat whatever they want and not feel guilty about it.
    There's nothing wrong with eating whatever you want, as long as you aren't hurting yourself. (And of course you can hurt yourself, but at your own peril.)
  • GoCleanGoLean
    GoCleanGoLean Posts: 71 Member
    edited February 2017

    This is actually a very important issue! For intuitive/mindful eating to work, our food environment has to resemble - to some extent - the one we evolved with. Food has to have a nutrition:taste:calorie ratio that doesn't make our brains catch fire. I purposely mold my own food environment into one of slight scarcity - when I buy "simple single real food ingredients" and leave the junk in the store. This food nourishes me for the right amount of calories - I can eat to satiety.

    A few questions: what do you mean you mold your food environment into one of slight scarcity?

    And are you suggesting to go Paleo?

    Also, if I only eat "simple single real food ingredients" and never eat other yummy foods such as biscuits and chocolates and sweets, then is that really eating intuitively? Because the whole intuitive eating thing is eat what you want, when you want, as long as you're hungry . . . oh and make sure to stop when you're full.

    But if I limit my diet to only single ingredient foods, then I am cutting out whole food groups I rather like (biscuits, chocolates, sweets, and the like).

    Mildly apologetic for the multitude of questions, but I really would like to understand all the perspectives as deeply as possible.
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,891 Member

    This is actually a very important issue! For intuitive/mindful eating to work, our food environment has to resemble - to some extent - the one we evolved with. Food has to have a nutrition:taste:calorie ratio that doesn't make our brains catch fire. I purposely mold my own food environment into one of slight scarcity - when I buy "simple single real food ingredients" and leave the junk in the store. This food nourishes me for the right amount of calories - I can eat to satiety.

    A few questions: what do you mean you mold your food environment into one of slight scarcity?

    And are you suggesting to go Paleo?

    No, I'm not eating grubs :D

    I buy "processed" foods - liver paté, yogurt (even fruit flavored from time to time), smoked salmon, bread, but a mainstay of my intake is based on food that is only one ingredient - fresh or frozen meat and fish, fruit and vegs, flour and oatmeal, milk and eggs, rice and beans, nuts and seeds, sugar and honey, butter and oils, and I really like cooking from scratch. I have a wide variety of foods available, but they take some effort to put together into a meal. It creates a natural hindrance between me and the eating. I have noticed that cravings are for things that take no effort to prepare or eat. When I'm hungry, I feel ready and motivated to compose a decent meal, and to chew. It makes the difference between mouth hunger and stomach hunger very clear.

    I forgot to mention that I eat meals - I wait until I'm hungry and then I eat whatever I have planned to eat. The waiting adds anticipation, and hunger enhances the enjoyment of eating. Today I was a bit thrown off and had an extra meal, and I didn't expect to be so full for so long. Now I'm just waiting and hoping there will be room for dinner before I have to go to bed. That's a first world problem if ever I saw one :#
  • bodmerocity
    bodmerocity Posts: 1 Member
    edited February 2017
    I see calorie counting as, in part, a way to develop / refine an intuition toward eating that's in line with the simple fact of weight loss: Calorie deficit.

    This intuitive eating thing sounds like it can be two things: 1.) An advanced strategy for maintaining a healthy diet, or 2.) If you're trying to lose weight and you've struggled to do so before, a way of rationalizing bad habits.

    If it helps, here's my approach to calorie counting: Rather than measure out every portion of everything I eat, for stuff that shows up in my diet on a daily basis I create a standard measure in my personal database. Ex: The coffee creamer I put in my coffee several times a day. I got out a scale and a container, and scooped out a slightly over-sized portion of what I'd consider "one scoop" for my coffee, weighed it, and entered in the nutrition info for that weight. I usually put four scoops in my coffee, so now I can just go to the "My Foods" tab and select four of those standard portions. You can do this for a lot of stuff. Makes it a lot easier, and if you slightly over-estimate the portion size for your standard measurement that'll help make sure you don't cheat yourself.

    When you get to the end of the day and you're at or over your calorie goal, you can take a hard look at your daily habits, and figure out areas where you can cut back. Like for example you might say "I had three cups of coffee through out the day. If I took one scoop of coffee creamer out of each of them, that would have saved me xxx calories. I'll try that tomorrow."
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,891 Member

    This is actually a very important issue! For intuitive/mindful eating to work, our food environment has to resemble - to some extent - the one we evolved with. Food has to have a nutrition:taste:calorie ratio that doesn't make our brains catch fire. I purposely mold my own food environment into one of slight scarcity - when I buy "simple single real food ingredients" and leave the junk in the store. This food nourishes me for the right amount of calories - I can eat to satiety.
    Also, if I only eat "simple single real food ingredients" and never eat other yummy foods such as biscuits and chocolates and sweets, then is that really eating intuitively? Because the whole intuitive eating thing is eat what you want, when you want, as long as you're hungry . . . oh and make sure to stop when you're full.

    But if I limit my diet to only single ingredient foods, then I am cutting out whole food groups I rather like (biscuits, chocolates, sweets, and the like).

    Mildly apologetic for the multitude of questions, but I really would like to understand all the perspectives as deeply as possible.

    I'll answer this part too! Great questions. I don't consider biscuits and cookies a food group :D And real food is indeed yummy. I don't eat foods separately, I combine them into meals. Today I had a peanut-cocoa-milk-banana smoothie, and black rye bread with butter and jam, for instance, as part of that very satiating meal.

    When I decide what I want to eat, I base my decision on not only how the food tastes, but how it makes me feel, before, during and after eating. If a food makes me uncontrollably excited, and then longing for more, and then disappointed, I think that that's not a food I want to eat very often. It's not that I don't like the taste (because I do, very much, I'm not one of those people who claims sweets are "overly sweet" and chips "greasy and gross" after their "lifestyle change"), but I also like real food very much, and I prefer the alternative that - all things considered - gives me the most enjoyment.
  • ssbbg
    ssbbg Posts: 153 Member
    Part of how intuitive eating works is that you cut out emotional eating/mindless eating/ and binging because you are focused on how you feel emotionally and physically. It is a lot of work, as bethanyka says, because you are constantly evaluating how you feel as you eat and how your emotions/physical state are changing because of the food you are eating.

    You also, in theory, tend to move away from tasty but unhealthy foods because you see how it makes you feel to eat such foods- example: giant dish of nachos with your year's quota of salt might make you feel bloated/dehydrated/extremely thirsty, whatever. Or you realize that chocolate ice cream is super sweet and you are satisfied after one spoon and not a bowl.

    Counting calories is fundamentally incompatible with intuitive eating because you are then using the numbers instead of how your body feels/what your body needs to decide what to eat. The "diet" mentality of counting calories is specifically viewed as disordered in most intuitive eating frameworks. There are intuitive eating support groups on the internet and several detailed books about the topic if you do want to learn more, such as this one: http://intuitiveeatingcommunity.org/ It is affiliated with the dieticians who coined the term "intuitive eating". They also wrote a detailed book on the topic, with lots of references.

    I think adding some mindfulness to eating is a great idea. But mindfulness and calorie counting is not intuitive eating.