Flickr / ‘Food’ by Nik Stranbridge

I was recently writing an article for Epigram on handling eating disorders during the Christmas time and it got me thinking about food and the looming 2017 resolutions. Of course, for many, it is weight-loss of the pounds gained over Christmas. As bizarre as it may seem, this is the second year in a row where I have started by ‘diet’ or rather healthier eating as soon as the Christmas holidays began. Being a student I eat when I can what I can, and it leads to a lot of alcohol weight and meal deals. Having some time away allows me to actually detox from these bad habits and get my health in order. I gave up caring about how much I weighed a long time ago luckily, I still have some disordered eating but my eating disorder is definitely now a thing of the past I can thankfully say. However, there is a type of eating I have been adopting this past week or so that has actually done wonders to my body in a very short period of time. Intuitive eating. It may seem simple enough, eat when you are hungry and only to 80% capacity. However, knowing when to eat and how much is a lot harder than it seems. As someone raised to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with maybe dessert, eating 4 times a day, sometimes with snacks is the norm. When I realised I could eat when I wanted to I found myself eating at around 12 and again at around 6. These were the times where I actually found myself craving food, not when I just woke up or when it was ‘lunchtime.’ I decided to only eat when my body needed it and when it came to what I ate, eat basically what I craved. If I was craving strawberries and an Innocent smoothie, fine. If I was craving a roast or hot chocolate, have it. The amount was more important than what I was eating, I would eat when I was hungry until satisfied, not until full. As I am writing this now I am on a social media break for a while, deactivated my Facebook, deleted my Instagram app and spending more time listening to music and reading, just for my sanity’s sake I needed a break from communication with people. This gives my brain more space to think about what I am doing rather than being on auto-pilot. I used to wake up, turn on my phone WiFi and watch it blow up. Now I wake up to no messaged bugging me and a break from constantly checking who is trying to get in contact with me. This allows me more ‘me-time’, to think about what I am doing and spend more time with my thoughts.

When I go to eat, I simply chose what I want based on how it will make me feel, if I need a boost to wake up I have caffeine, if I feel a slump I eat some fruit, if I am craving sugar I eat sweets. Just listening to what my body needs helps me to understand how to help it take care of me, rather than shovel in food, for food sake. As someone who can’t (or rather shouldn’t) eat dairy and instead opts for soy and coconut milk, whilst my resolution for 2016 was to be a pescatarian, I found myself in a semi-vegan state for about 7 months of the year. No meat unless it was fish, no dairy and a lot of the time no egg. This limited what I could eat tremendous, I would struggle to be able to eat in public in nearly every aspect and would instead eat the same things each and every day. While I ate some amazing vegan food and am grateful for what it did for my skin (mostly down to not consuming dairy), it gave me another form of disordered eating. The restrictions made me think of food as something I couldn’t have and I would eat what I could rather than what I wanted. Now I am back to eating meat, although egg and dairy is for the most part, off the cards, especially dairy which I don’t believe I will go back to. With this whole range of food reopened to me, I can now eat what I want, for the most part, making me enjoy food more as a luxury than a challenge.

The goal for 2017 is not to diet, although that is usually exactly the case. Rather I want to see how long I can keep up intuitive eating and make it part of my lifestyle. No calorie counting, no restriction on diet but rather a way for me to take care of my body more efficiently. I am sleeping better not going to bed on a full stomach, my body is lighter when it simply caries what it needs and overall I am eating more of what I want rather than what I feel I should be eating and when. It really makes me feel less sluggish and this is only after around 8 days, I am pretty excited for the next 100. When I return to the hustle and bustle of university life, the hours of studying and the trips to the supermarket, I feel as though this way of mind will help me be in control of my life in a simple way. My organisation in work I can now put towards food, without the need to think of scale numbers and gym memberships. My body is already slimming and becoming more energetic, and that is good enough for me. Here is to looking and feeling even better in 2017!

Let me know your opinions on intuitive eating below! 

Photo credit: Flickr/ ‘strawberries’ by Alosh Bennett

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