Intuitive eating

ReenieHJ
ReenieHJ Posts: 9,724 Member
I didn't specifically start the past month with this idea in mind; my scale simply became a stranger to me and I didn't log calories most days. I ate what I wanted, within definite limits, sticking to many of the usual meals/snacks that I have. I ended up losing 2.5# so I was happily astonished this a.m.
Honestly, I don't think I could keep to this day in/day out because I could feel it easily being a very slippery slope. But sometimes I just get sick of it being at the forefront of my brain. KWIM?
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Replies

  • Sara3veg
    Sara3veg Posts: 48 Member
    I've read a couple of the intuitive reading books out there and tried it for a while, but I wasn't able to hit my weight management goals doing it. I like to snack, I like the taste of certain foods and will continue eating them just for the experience-which has nothing to do with hunger. Yesterday for example I opened a bulk sized bag of kettle corn (Sams club size, uh oh lol). I proceeded to eat almost half of the bag before even realizing what I was doing. Hundreds and hundreds of calories wasted, without even feeling full or satisfied.

    Op, if you're able to do it though then that's great! Finding something that works for you is key to making this process a long term success!
  • LoveyChar
    LoveyChar Posts: 3,893 Member
    People practiced intuitive eating long before the internet calorie trackers became a thing. I spent most of my life on the smaller side but my heaviest was 8 pounds overweight and to me, I was a fat pig and utterly disgusted with myself. I didn't stay there very long. I knew how I got that way. So I went in the opposite direction. If I can't fit into a size 0,1 or 2, it's time to pull back and re-evaluate what I'm doing. If my running lacks, again I pull back and re-evaluate my choices. I don't give the scale much attention. I exercise. I eat healthy. My parents and grandparents were thin. They never counted a calorie in their life. Does intuitive eating work? I'd say most definitely! I'm here for the community, especially, the fitness aspect of it! But I'm not going to track calories.
  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 2,858 Member
    OP, IKWYM. Sometimes other priorities happen or I just take a break from calorie counting. As long as I stick to my regular meals and habits, scale doesn't move much. Also applies somewhat to travel-- not my regular foods but I usually don't count. I am mindful of quantity, though, so I would not characterize it intuitive at all. It still takes cognitive effort. Travel aside, for day in/day out, I personally find counting less cognitive effort than guesstimating and deciphering when it is or isn't time to do a caloric coarse correction.

    It's nice to know you can take a break whenever and stay on track.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,750 Member
    Sounds more like thoughtful eating than intuitive eating - " I ate what I wanted, within definite limits".
    When you involve your conscious mind that's no longer intuitive.

    Personal experiment with intuitive eating was I hit my heaviest ever weight with no sign of the rate of gain levelling off.
    Thoughtful eating on the other hand works fine for me to maintain long term in my goal weight range.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,002 Member
    This is what I have been doing to maintain my weight loss, but I wouldn't call it "intuitive eating".

    I don't log anymore, but the experience of logging has educated me about calories and portion control. It sounds like that's the case for you, too.

    I still have to make conscious decisions about what to eat and what not to eat, which is the opposite of intuitive.

    It doesn't stress me out anymore, it's just part of my daily life to make these decisions every day.

    Like you, I eat what I want, within defined limits. If I truly ate "intuitively", I think I'd be well over those limits...that's how I gained weight in the first place.

    TBH, I think this is how most non-overweight people do it, even if they never get as particular as many of us do here to lose weight. There may be a few special unicorns out there for whom overindulging on food is just never a temptation, but I think they're rare. Just like people who never have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or don't procrastinate, or put everything away as soon as they're done using it. It's weird that we expect eating to just work out by letting our hindbrains do all the work. Animals, who don't have the gift of free will and reason as humans do, will get fat too if they have an excess of food available.

    Most of my IRL friends and family are non-overweight people who have never had a weight problem. Outside of a few that are competitive athletes in some capacity (one being a retired world class athlete), none of them really give much conscious thought to their diets and what they're eating, so I don't really think it's special unicorns. Most of them don't even know what a calorie is or how calories even work. The biggest thing they all have in common is that they are active people...not necessarily workingout and stuff, just very active in living their lives.

    I was a non-overweight person for the vast majority of my life and had problems even holding onto the weight I had at times. There was zero conscious decision on my part as to, "I should eat that or not eat that". When it was meal time, I ate...if I was hungry I had a snack...I didn't really think about food at all other than hungry, so eat. I don't actually think this is that unusual. I wasn't really a "junk food" guy or grazer or snacker...not a conscious decision, that just wasn't me. I was also very active. I didn't start putting on weight until I was in my 30s and started working behind a desk and traveling a lot for work. Many of the active hobbies I had either went out the window or were hindered by time constraints and I didn't really make the effort to do more. I gained weight very slowly...about 40ish Lbs over 8 years.

    I have to be more conscious and deliberate now because even when I try to be as active as I can, I'm not as active as I was or would like to be. That said, since I have drastically cut back on alcohol I find that I don't have to put nearly as much conscious effort into my food decisions and dropping my COVID weight has been almost mindless. Mind you I used to drink well over 1,000 calories per day in alcohol alone.
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    edited June 2021
    I really used to think intuitive eating sounded like a great idea, especially having struggled with weight for most of my life. I was a serial restrict/binge dieter and could even be considered to have BED in my early-mid 20's. I was fed up, never thinking I could lose weight in a way where I had to count points, calories or whatever. I was definitely the poster child for the type of chronic dieter/always unhappy with her body the creators of IE targeted.

    I bought a couple of books and started reading, but for some reason I never fully got into it. Now that I think about it, the way I "intuitively" ate before led me to be overweight! I didn't have a good sense of hunger and fullness signals, which I know IE is supposed to teach us to become more aware of...but it was difficult for me and not trustworthy!

    If I were to try IE now, would it TRULY be IE, or just all the knowledge and tricks I've learned over the years from structured weight loss and maintenance and using MFP. Is it truly intuitive to me now? If I were to stop tracking, would I subconsciously or even consciously serve myself what I think an "appropriate" serving size would be based on more objective measurement, calculating calories, protein, fiber, etc to keep at my goal weight? Probably.

    The thing is, I'm almost certain I could maintain a healthy weight range now if I did stop tracking, but would I be at my "vanity" weight? Nope, probably not. Since I strength and am also wanting to build muscle, it is important for me to track protein intake, and I also like to track my fiber and sometimes my sugar. I couldn't do that by eating 'intuitively."

    I think IE works for people who are bottom-up processors, but I'm more of a top-down processor. I needed tools like MFP to help me become more aware of my hunger/full signals and what my body truly needed to thrive. In general, and not just related to hunger/fullness, I'm just not a person who had great body awareness, so I need "out-of-my-body" help (like using mirrors when I lift or dance for form).

    I've said this many times when the subject of IE comes up, but I do like the idea of mindful eating, and mindfulness in general . However, I think it differs from IE, and MFP helps me be more mindful about what/how much I'm eating while I still try to pay attention while I"m eating, eat more slowly, etc.

    ETA: I was a bit of a chubby kid, probably since at least the 3rd grade. I often read that kids "eat intuitively...." well, that's more evidence for my case that if I ate intuitively, I would most likely be overweight. I wouldn't even necessarily say it was because I was inactive then or my family ate unhealthily, because I was the only who was chubby--even my mom didn't struggle with her weight.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,614 Member
    edited June 2021
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    This is what I have been doing to maintain my weight loss, but I wouldn't call it "intuitive eating".

    I don't log anymore, but the experience of logging has educated me about calories and portion control. It sounds like that's the case for you, too.

    I still have to make conscious decisions about what to eat and what not to eat, which is the opposite of intuitive.

    It doesn't stress me out anymore, it's just part of my daily life to make these decisions every day.

    Like you, I eat what I want, within defined limits. If I truly ate "intuitively", I think I'd be well over those limits...that's how I gained weight in the first place.

    TBH, I think this is how most non-overweight people do it, even if they never get as particular as many of us do here to lose weight. There may be a few special unicorns out there for whom overindulging on food is just never a temptation, but I think they're rare. Just like people who never have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or don't procrastinate, or put everything away as soon as they're done using it. It's weird that we expect eating to just work out by letting our hindbrains do all the work. Animals, who don't have the gift of free will and reason as humans do, will get fat too if they have an excess of food available.

    Most of my IRL friends and family are non-overweight people who have never had a weight problem. Outside of a few that are competitive athletes in some capacity (one being a retired world class athlete), none of them really give much conscious thought to their diets and what they're eating, so I don't really think it's special unicorns. Most of them don't even know what a calorie is or how calories even work. The biggest thing they all have in common is that they are active people...not necessarily workingout and stuff, just very active in living their lives.

    I was a non-overweight person for the vast majority of my life and had problems even holding onto the weight I had at times. There was zero conscious decision on my part as to, "I should eat that or not eat that". When it was meal time, I ate...if I was hungry I had a snack...I didn't really think about food at all other than hungry, so eat. I don't actually think this is that unusual. I wasn't really a "junk food" guy or grazer or snacker...not a conscious decision, that just wasn't me. I was also very active. I didn't start putting on weight until I was in my 30s and started working behind a desk and traveling a lot for work. Many of the active hobbies I had either went out the window or were hindered by time constraints and I didn't really make the effort to do more. I gained weight very slowly...about 40ish Lbs over 8 years.

    I have to be more conscious and deliberate now because even when I try to be as active as I can, I'm not as active as I was or would like to be. That said, since I have drastically cut back on alcohol I find that I don't have to put nearly as much conscious effort into my food decisions and dropping my COVID weight has been almost mindless. Mind you I used to drink well over 1,000 calories per day in alcohol alone.


    This has been my experience with my friends and family (none overweight) too. There is no awareness of what calories are in things or how much they eat. They very much 'hungry = eat food'. It's just that the ingrained habits around food are such that they maintain a healthy weight eating those things and within those patterns.

    I was just like that for a lot of my life. Then my life changed sufficiently to change both my CO and my eating habits and it stopped working.

    That's the real thing. It isn't that people who don't do that are special unicorns - and I think the idea that they are is actually pretty damaging - it's just that they already have those healthy habits we're trying to build.

    (Also honestly I needed to learn calorie awareness and break a habit or two but my base food choices were already still pretty good. Because the first half of my life, where I wasn't overweight, I'd developed a pretty solid eating foundation once I tackled removing some less good habits)
  • penguinmama87
    penguinmama87 Posts: 945 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    This is what I have been doing to maintain my weight loss, but I wouldn't call it "intuitive eating".

    I don't log anymore, but the experience of logging has educated me about calories and portion control. It sounds like that's the case for you, too.

    I still have to make conscious decisions about what to eat and what not to eat, which is the opposite of intuitive.

    It doesn't stress me out anymore, it's just part of my daily life to make these decisions every day.

    Like you, I eat what I want, within defined limits. If I truly ate "intuitively", I think I'd be well over those limits...that's how I gained weight in the first place.

    TBH, I think this is how most non-overweight people do it, even if they never get as particular as many of us do here to lose weight. There may be a few special unicorns out there for whom overindulging on food is just never a temptation, but I think they're rare. Just like people who never have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or don't procrastinate, or put everything away as soon as they're done using it. It's weird that we expect eating to just work out by letting our hindbrains do all the work. Animals, who don't have the gift of free will and reason as humans do, will get fat too if they have an excess of food available.

    Most of my IRL friends and family are non-overweight people who have never had a weight problem. Outside of a few that are competitive athletes in some capacity (one being a retired world class athlete), none of them really give much conscious thought to their diets and what they're eating, so I don't really think it's special unicorns. Most of them don't even know what a calorie is or how calories even work. The biggest thing they all have in common is that they are active people...not necessarily workingout and stuff, just very active in living their lives.

    I was a non-overweight person for the vast majority of my life and had problems even holding onto the weight I had at times. There was zero conscious decision on my part as to, "I should eat that or not eat that". When it was meal time, I ate...if I was hungry I had a snack...I didn't really think about food at all other than hungry, so eat. I don't actually think this is that unusual. I wasn't really a "junk food" guy or grazer or snacker...not a conscious decision, that just wasn't me. I was also very active. I didn't start putting on weight until I was in my 30s and started working behind a desk and traveling a lot for work. Many of the active hobbies I had either went out the window or were hindered by time constraints and I didn't really make the effort to do more. I gained weight very slowly...about 40ish Lbs over 8 years.

    I have to be more conscious and deliberate now because even when I try to be as active as I can, I'm not as active as I was or would like to be. That said, since I have drastically cut back on alcohol I find that I don't have to put nearly as much conscious effort into my food decisions and dropping my COVID weight has been almost mindless. Mind you I used to drink well over 1,000 calories per day in alcohol alone.


    This has been my experience with my friends and family (none overweight) too. There is no awareness of what calories are in things or how much they eat. They very much 'hungry = eat food'. It's just that the ingrained habits around food are such that they maintain a healthy weight eating those things and within those patterns.

    I was just like that for a lot of my life. Then my life changed sufficiently to change both my CO and my eating habits and it stopped working.

    That's the real thing. It isn't that people who don't do that are special unicorns - and I think the idea that they are is actually pretty damaging - it's just that they already have those healthy habits we're trying to build.

    (Also honestly I needed to learn calorie awareness and break a habit or two but my base food choices were already still pretty good. Because the first half of my life, where I wasn't overweight, I'd developed a pretty solid eating foundation once I tackled removing some less good habits)

    I guess I must be thinking about this differently, or I haven't expressed myself well. I'm going to have to think a bit about how to explain better what I meant above.

    The people I know who have never struggled with weight, still make rational, reasoned decisions about food. They might be *more* in touch with their bodies and hunger signals than some of us are, and for us to learn that stuff is good if we ignore it. But I still make a distinction between mindful and intuitive eating. Maybe that's a false distinction on my part. But they're still choosing to engage the habit. I'm not saying they're experts in nutrition science. But they do think things like, "Hm, I want that extra piece of cake, but nah, I've had enough today" (or "yes, because it's my birthday, but I wouldn't on another day.") The fact that it's habitual does make it easier, but not effortless.

    I have things I am naturally very skilled at, that come "intuitively" to me. Doesn't mean I don't practice. I also don't share all my thought processes about it with everyone. Some people think I must not actually have to try (I know this because they've told me so.) But I do. Maybe not as much as they would if they also wanted to get good at that thing because of genetic talent or circumstances or whatever. There are certain bad habits I've never been tempted to, either, but I think that number is a lot lower than "things I probably would do if my rational brain didn't help me put the brakes on," even if I manage to put the brakes on very early on in the process.

    I don't know if that expresses my idea any better or not.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,614 Member
    edited June 2021
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    This is what I have been doing to maintain my weight loss, but I wouldn't call it "intuitive eating".

    I don't log anymore, but the experience of logging has educated me about calories and portion control. It sounds like that's the case for you, too.

    I still have to make conscious decisions about what to eat and what not to eat, which is the opposite of intuitive.

    It doesn't stress me out anymore, it's just part of my daily life to make these decisions every day.

    Like you, I eat what I want, within defined limits. If I truly ate "intuitively", I think I'd be well over those limits...that's how I gained weight in the first place.

    TBH, I think this is how most non-overweight people do it, even if they never get as particular as many of us do here to lose weight. There may be a few special unicorns out there for whom overindulging on food is just never a temptation, but I think they're rare. Just like people who never have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or don't procrastinate, or put everything away as soon as they're done using it. It's weird that we expect eating to just work out by letting our hindbrains do all the work. Animals, who don't have the gift of free will and reason as humans do, will get fat too if they have an excess of food available.

    Most of my IRL friends and family are non-overweight people who have never had a weight problem. Outside of a few that are competitive athletes in some capacity (one being a retired world class athlete), none of them really give much conscious thought to their diets and what they're eating, so I don't really think it's special unicorns. Most of them don't even know what a calorie is or how calories even work. The biggest thing they all have in common is that they are active people...not necessarily workingout and stuff, just very active in living their lives.

    I was a non-overweight person for the vast majority of my life and had problems even holding onto the weight I had at times. There was zero conscious decision on my part as to, "I should eat that or not eat that". When it was meal time, I ate...if I was hungry I had a snack...I didn't really think about food at all other than hungry, so eat. I don't actually think this is that unusual. I wasn't really a "junk food" guy or grazer or snacker...not a conscious decision, that just wasn't me. I was also very active. I didn't start putting on weight until I was in my 30s and started working behind a desk and traveling a lot for work. Many of the active hobbies I had either went out the window or were hindered by time constraints and I didn't really make the effort to do more. I gained weight very slowly...about 40ish Lbs over 8 years.

    I have to be more conscious and deliberate now because even when I try to be as active as I can, I'm not as active as I was or would like to be. That said, since I have drastically cut back on alcohol I find that I don't have to put nearly as much conscious effort into my food decisions and dropping my COVID weight has been almost mindless. Mind you I used to drink well over 1,000 calories per day in alcohol alone.


    This has been my experience with my friends and family (none overweight) too. There is no awareness of what calories are in things or how much they eat. They very much 'hungry = eat food'. It's just that the ingrained habits around food are such that they maintain a healthy weight eating those things and within those patterns.

    I was just like that for a lot of my life. Then my life changed sufficiently to change both my CO and my eating habits and it stopped working.

    That's the real thing. It isn't that people who don't do that are special unicorns - and I think the idea that they are is actually pretty damaging - it's just that they already have those healthy habits we're trying to build.

    (Also honestly I needed to learn calorie awareness and break a habit or two but my base food choices were already still pretty good. Because the first half of my life, where I wasn't overweight, I'd developed a pretty solid eating foundation once I tackled removing some less good habits)

    I guess I must be thinking about this differently, or I haven't expressed myself well. I'm going to have to think a bit about how to explain better what I meant above.

    The people I know who have never struggled with weight, still make rational, reasoned decisions about food. They might be *more* in touch with their bodies and hunger signals than some of us are, and for us to learn that stuff is good if we ignore it. But I still make a distinction between mindful and intuitive eating. Maybe that's a false distinction on my part. But they're still choosing to engage the habit. I'm not saying they're experts in nutrition science. But they do think things like, "Hm, I want that extra piece of cake, but nah, I've had enough today" (or "yes, because it's my birthday, but I wouldn't on another day.") The fact that it's habitual does make it easier, but not effortless.

    I have things I am naturally very skilled at, that come "intuitively" to me. Doesn't mean I don't practice. I also don't share all my thought processes about it with everyone. Some people think I must not actually have to try (I know this because they've told me so.) But I do. Maybe not as much as they would if they also wanted to get good at that thing because of genetic talent or circumstances or whatever. There are certain bad habits I've never been tempted to, either, but I think that number is a lot lower than "things I probably would do if my rational brain didn't help me put the brakes on," even if I manage to put the brakes on very early on in the process.

    I don't know if that expresses my idea any better or not.

    You're expressing it fine. My thing is just that I don't agree and that's okay.

    I used to BE that person and yeah, there was no effort. There was no decision and no effort at any point that I can recall. If I wanted the cake, I ate the cake. There was not ONCE a 'I've had enough today so I am stopping myself from doing what I want' . There WAS a 'I'm full now' or "I don't want anymore" and even a "I'm still not really hungry the day after (so ate a lot less)" but those weren't really *thoughts*, they were just cause and effect. There was literally NO thought in what I ate and I've had some pretty danged in depth discussions about this with my friends who have struggled with weight and those who haven't.

    Most of the ones who never had aren't making decisions that are 'less effort', they're grabbing what they want and stopping when they don't want more - and that really does mean sincerely not wanting anymore, unless they're lying or I'm lying about the 'I had 4 chips, I've over it now'.

    I think there's a tendency to believe other people work like we do. I think there is ESPECIALLY a belief that how we EAT and see food is normal. Real talk? I don't think if it was normal (consciously having to decide about food, thinking about food a lot, whatever) we wouldn't be here.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,614 Member
    Or, I guess, put another way:

    When you're feeding an infant in most cases of a healthy baby, they will eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are no longer hungry. It is almost impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby, though of course sizes and shapes vary. This, IMO, is the default state of human beings.

    There are things that change that for a lot of us. Things that make MINDFUL eating of varying degrees - from tracking it all to vague awareness and more informed decisions - useful or even necessary. Society, cultural, psychology, whatever. that's okay. It's more than okay. It's great.

    But the state state of easily 95% of infants in the world is not some magical unicorn status.

    (There are some Luke Narwhal videos 'the secret habits of skinny people' that are pretty good, on youtube)

    I doubt I'll ever be there again but 'I don't want anymore' being a thing that worked instead of having to think "i've had enough today so I won't" is sure as heck a thing I'll miss.

  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 25,700 Member
    Several times I have been in abnormal situations when calorie dense foods that I find difficult to moderate were simply not available. Then, "intuitive eating" worked just fine.

    When I have full access to American supermarkets and kitchens, not so much.
  • penguinmama87
    penguinmama87 Posts: 945 Member
    Or, I guess, put another way:

    When you're feeding an infant in most cases of a healthy baby, they will eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are no longer hungry. It is almost impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby, though of course sizes and shapes vary. This, IMO, is the default state of human beings.

    There are things that change that for a lot of us. Things that make MINDFUL eating of varying degrees - from tracking it all to vague awareness and more informed decisions - useful or even necessary. Society, cultural, psychology, whatever. that's okay. It's more than okay. It's great.

    But the state state of easily 95% of infants in the world is not some magical unicorn status.

    (There are some Luke Narwhal videos 'the secret habits of skinny people' that are pretty good, on youtube)

    I doubt I'll ever be there again but 'I don't want anymore' being a thing that worked instead of having to think "i've had enough today so I won't" is sure as heck a thing I'll miss.

    That is true about breastfed babies. But once kids are older they have to be taught how to eat, which involves quite a bit of thinking on the parts of their parents, at least (perhaps too much sometimes, people can be very nutty about "the right way" with parenting.) It might make some evolutionary sense that kids are hesitant about new foods, but I don't let my kids eat just what they want to. I don't force them to eat if they don't want to (though they are required to sit at the table), and I don't limit how much either - but I do serve, regularly, foods that are not their favorites, and they have to deal.

    I certainly didn't mean to imply at all that a baby can't know if he or she is hungry or not!

    I think my point about animals still stands, too - scarcity seems to be a major determining factor for appropriate weight for animals. If enough food is available, animals will overeat, too.

    I also think I'm coming from a place of "anecdata" - almost nobody I know (IRL) who advocates intuitive eating is normal weight, which seems at odds with the experiences of other posters here who are more positive about it. The people I know are all overweight, many of them very much so. I could see it being really useful at first, and some people who get really excited on intuitive eating do lose some weight at first. But I know people do the same on other diets, too, and then seem to get stuck.

    We do seem to get used to a particular volume of food. Despite my weight going up and down with pregnancy etc I have been relatively stable within a set range, and only recently have I dropped below that range. I think the power of habit is very strong. Not sure it's the same thing as intuition.

  • penguinmama87
    penguinmama87 Posts: 945 Member
    Maybe to put it another way, if we're going to make a distinction between intuitive eating and mindful eating, I'd be curious to know if and what the difference is between instinct and intuition. I tend to think of them as being the same, but perhaps that's not fair. I think it's nigh impossible to separate out what's natural (admittedly a wishy-washy term itself) vs. learned behavior. Eating is such a cultural behavior. Letting our subconscious do the decision making, without regard for that aspect (which is often how intuitive eating comes across to me when I've read about it, perhaps that's inaccurate too) seems like allowing for huge blind spots.

    I think I can buy the idea that for some people, who maybe grew up with healthier food environments etc, those subconscious patterns never have to be closely examined or brought to a conscious level to work on, because they really do work as is. But I would suspect, at least in industrialized, modernized cultures, the number of people for whom that's working is probably decreasing over time, not increasing.
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 7,698 Member
    I know people who intuitively eat and are a healthy weight - but difference being they havent had to lose weight and then try to eat intuitively, it has always worked for them - ie there are people whose natural appetite and food choices marry up with their activity level and they remain a healthy weight without trying.