Folks, I thought I knew it all about health, fitness and what to put in my body! Before I turned 40 I used to roll my eyes when people talked about their “diets”. I would listen, somewhat impatiently as friends and family talked endlessly about what ever food category they were currently depriving themselves of. I thought as long as I exercise, I can eat whatever I want and stay trim and fit.
Fast forward to my fortieth birthday. When literally, everything I thought I knew changed in an instant. So called genetics were no longer my friend. I could no longer eat everything I wanted and burn it off in the gym. I gained 5 pounds overnight and it settled itself rather unflatteringly right around my tummy.
Sadly, this started many years of drastic measures and hazerdous diet experimentation. I tracked every calorie and worked out religiously to ensure an enormous deficit each and every week. I tried dieting trends…low carb, low fat. High Fat, Low Carb. Paleo. You name it! Did it work? Well sometimes. Was it painful? You betcha! Was I jealous of my husband’s naturally thin frame and seemingly impossible metabolism? Uh Huh!
Finally, when I was 48 I started experimenting with a ketogenic diet. For those that don’t know a “Keto Diet” is well known for being a low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as many different names – ketogenic diet, low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc. In other words you get and keep yourself in “ketosis”.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.
On a keto diet you don’t eat carbohydrates. I didn’t say you don’t eat bad carbohydrates. I said you don’t eat ANY carbohydrates. I ate less than 20 grams of carbs per day when the average diet contains over 200. Those I did eat were the unavoidable ones from say broccoli or lettuce. Yep, lettuce has carbs! You eat all the fat you want. Bacon, avocados, cheese, meat! You don’t count calories. You DO lose weight.
I maintained this for a year before I started really listening to myself. I had no energy for my workouts. I had enormous food cravings. At the one year mark I was ready to run naked through a field of McDonalds French fries. This clearly wasn’t a long term solution for me. The minute I stopped, I gained back every pound.
That is when I began researching intuitive eating. This is a brief description taken from Alissa Rumsey’s website:
What Is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to health and wellness that helps you tune into your body signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting and heal your relationship with food. In short: intuitive eating is normal eating. We are all born natural intuitive eaters. Babies cry, they eat, and then stop eating until they’re hungry again. Kids innately balance out their food intake from week to week, eating when they’re hungry and stopping once they feel full. Some days they may eat a ton of food, and other days they may eat barely anything. As we grow older and rules and restrictions are set around food, we lose our inner intuitive eater. We learn to finish everything on our plate. We learn that dessert is a reward, or can be taken away if we misbehave. We are told that certain foods are good for us and others are bad – causing us to feel good about ourselves when we eat certain foods and guilty when we eat others.
Intuitive Eating is not a diet. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. There’s no counting calories or macros and no making certain foods off limits. It’s not about following a meal plan or measuring out your portions (in fact, that is all discouraged!). Instead, it’s about re-learning to eat outside of the diet mentality, putting the focus on your internal cues (aka your intuition) like hunger, fullness and satisfaction, and moving away from external cues like food rules and restrictions.
Hello!!!!! Light Bulb! I can just listen to what my body wants, eat it and be fit and healthy! I was in!
Now at the same time I had also transitioned to an 80% plant based diet with a bit of fish and dairy occasionally. I don’t eat pork, beef or chicken. This was more of a moral decision. I had the opportunity to visit a slaughterhouse and it was a life changing experience for me. I won’t say more than this because I think each person must go their own way when it comes to meat. For me it was the birth of intuitive eating because I suddenly just didn’t want to eat meat. I craved veggies and fruits and grains. Especially fruits and grains as they are off limits on a ketogenic diet. I bought a juicer and started drinking healthy juice concoctions with Kale, carrots, celery, apples, cucumber and chard. I followed vegan chef’s and bloggers and learned to cook wonderful, satisfying high fiber meals. Want to know what happened……? I became leaner than I had been in years. I felt happy and light. I felt satisfied.
You can see some of the recipes I eat frequently and what a day in the life of Shawntelle looks like here on my blog. Your intuitive eating plan may look much different than mine. It is all about listening to your body and what it is telling you it needs rather than wants. A good example is I start out each and every morning with fruit. It is literally the first thing I think about before coffee and as soon as my eyes are open. Lately it has been mangos. Now based on intuitive eating my guess is that this has a lot to do with the water content in fruit and that I am thirsty when I first get up. Maybe it is because mangos are in season and they are just so tasty right now. Don’t know…don’t care. I listen to my body and when I do I don’t overeat and I am satisfied.
I encourage you to give it a try. Remember, if you have been yo yo dieting it will take awhile for your body to respond and lose weight if that is your desire. Take care of yourself and let yourself heal.
Hearts and Hugs… Shawntelle