Intuitive Eating vs. Tracking Calories



  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 25,947 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    *peeks in*

    I had a second one.

    I was only going for half but I'm a completist... and they were really good.

    At least I fought my intuition when it wanted to go for the brownies and apple fritters a client brought. :)

    I sure DON'T miss this about working in an office :lol:
  • TishTashS
    TishTashS Posts: 2 Member
    I eat intuitively now, as I never had sustainable success after many years of calorie counting attempts. When I counted calories, I stayed within a 1400-1750 range, 1750 being my maintenance. I weighed every gram I ate.

    Calorie counting worked temporarily for weight loss while I was doing it, but had a negative impact on me and so I found it highly unsustainanble. I became obsessed with food, to the point where I could think of nothing else all day due to constant hunger, which had a significant effect my sleep, my work, relationships and overall well-being.

    Because calorie counting is unsustainable for me, this led to years of weight cycling and on/off disordered eating behaviours.

    When I didn't count calories, I either maintained my weight or gained weight, but I didn't have obsessive thoughts about food.

    When I counted calories, I would last for about 3 months before becoming so desperately hungry that I would enter a binge/restrict cycle for several weeks or months as a reaction to the prolonged hunger. I was starving all the time, even when I ate to maintenance, or even over maintenance just to try and make the hunger stop. The more often I tried to count calories to lose weight, the worse my hunger got.

    I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, and I found that I only exhibited disordered eating behaviours (binging, obsessive thoughts about food) in periods during, or immediately following attempts at calorie restriction.

    After the last time I tried calorie counting, I decided that even though so many people here find that it works for them, I am not someone it can work for. The insatiable hunger made me unable to think about much else, and affected my mental health severely. I looked into other options, and the only thing I could find that didn't involve restrictive eating was IE.

    Intuitive eating is not a weight loss programme. It is not a reliable method for controlling weight. Some people lose weight, some maintain, some gain. I fluctuated between maintaining and gaining weight for the first 1.5 years of IE. I had to retrain my body to have hunger and fullness signals after years of calorie restriction destroying any reliable sense of hunger and fullness that I had.

    My doctor also advised me that the constant weight cycling from calorie restriction attempts during the years prior to my diagnosis likely contributed to me developing PCOS 4 years ago, due to the effect of weight cycling on hormones. However, this is not guaranteed, and may not be the only factor. Some of my PCOS symptoms have improved since starting IE, but others have remained the same.

    Before I first started IE, and for many years before I developed PCOS symptoms, I was so hungry all the time, unless I binged heavily. This subsided after about 4 months of IE, and then I was able to feel full again on normal amounts of food.

    I have been doing IE for a little over 2 years, and have been steadily losing weight for the past 7 months, but this is not because I am trying to. I just listen to my body now. The weight loss is a lot slower than when I previously managed to lose weight through calorie counting, but as it is no longer a goal I am trying to achieve, this doesn't bother me.

    IE is much better for my mental health and doesn't result in insatiable hunger, food obsession, irritability, lack of sleep due to constant gnawing hunger, or binge cycles. I'm much happier and healthier now, so I can't recommend calorie counting for anyone who might have a similar experience.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,616 Member

    I think for me calorie counting has been, and in many ways still is, a way of educating myself about the calorie content of food so I can make better choices and know roughly what I need to eat, to be a weight I am healthy and happy with.

    I don't NEED to count every calorie any more and I deliberately am for a calorie RANGE rather than a set amount and that has worked fine for me. I can skip days , retroactively log and I stay in roughly the range I need to be in for slow weight loss.

    but if I ate truly intuitively I'd live on one meal a day and that meal would be a party size bag of peanut butter m and ms and a pint of ice cream. so we're not doing that.
  • breefoshee
    breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
    jdhcm2006 wrote: »
    breefoshee wrote: »
    I've done both.
    Some of the things I like about intuitive eating:

    1) It is adaptive depending on your hunger. There are days where you are naturally more hungry and naturally less. If I am counting calories, I will 100% eat every single calorie because it is there. But that means on the hungrier days, I am just white knuckling through. With IE, you can adapt without the freak out of "oh no, I'm not eating enough!... or I'm eating too much!"

    2) I find that I, personally, focus on food less and therefore eat less.

    3) Not having to log big recipes, not weighing and measuring

    4) Not having to figure out overall calories vs workouts

    5) Being able to eat anything without logging and just having your fullness be the measure.

    6) I find that I am more sensitive to my body's needs for certain nutrients.

    Some of the things I dislike:

    1) It is not as reliable or accurate as calorie counting.

    2) The types of food you eat will dictate your hunger. Even if you continue eating because you are really hungry, you can consume too many calories.

    3) Food wastage- sometimes eating to hunger means you have more left over on your plate.

    4) Lack of food control- If you are having a meh day, it would be easier just the put things MFP and know exactly what your day looks like, no big decision making, rather than having to exercise control over hunger and be mindful. Sometimes you just don't feel like fighting.

    I try to do both and this has been my experience as well. I want the calorie counting to make sure that I don’t go overboard but IE helps me to not feel the need to eat everything I measured out and put on my plate. I didn’t experience the food waste bc I would just save it for later.

    I like IE bc it helps me really pay attention to what my body is telling me but is it easy to gain weight on IE, yes. IE is supposed to help your body get you to the weight it feels most comfortable at which might not be the healthiest. The biggest IE cue I took away was paying attention to hunger cues. That’s been a big help for me.

    Abbey Sharp is a good tool to look into regarding IE.

    I have found that the calorie counting and intuitive eating together have overall helped me but I need them both, I can’t do one without the other. I think the two go extremely well together, but that’s my experience.

    I actually decided that maybe with the start off the new year doing both. I do typically keep a mental count just from so many years of counting but I've noticed I don't do it as often anymore.

    I can't be a strict counter bc it is not good for my mental health, but I may be able to land somewhere in the middle and it be helpful.
  • J72FIT
    J72FIT Posts: 5,932 Member
    NovusDies wrote: »
    My relationship with food changed through awareness.

    Awareness is the key to most if not all issues...