Recently, I’ve been focused on learning to eat intuitively. I realize it sounds strange…learning to eat intuitively. Shouldn’t one know how to do this naturally? Yes, but as we age, we start to eat based on external factors such as not wanting to waste money on food we purchased or giving in to the commercials. We eat food because it’s in front of us, it looks good or smells good or we think we want it. Somewhere along the way, we lose the ability to listen to our bodies.
I’m currently reading Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I learned about Intuitive Eating from Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God, but wanted to delve into it a little deeper, so I found the book I’m currently reading. I’ve been taking notes as I read and using the book as a workbook. Someday, I’d love to be able to give up watching what I eat and how much of it I eat.
Anyway, one of the things discussed in the book is to really pay attention to what you’re eating. Does it taste good? Are you eating because you’re hungry or for some other reason…boredom, frustration, the clock?
I stopped and thought about the things that I eat out of habit or because I grew up eating them. I discovered that most of the time, I don’t want or even like French fries, even though I order them as my side when they’re available. The exceptions are fries from Wendy’s and McDonald’s; however, the ones I absolutely love are closer to the natural state…being “hand cut” or “homemade” from real potatoes and still have the skin on. What I really want most of the time when I eat fries are the salt and ketchup. I’ve known for a long time that what I eat is usually dependent on what condiment I can have.
When I’m craving chicken wings, it’s usually the ranch dressing I want. A hamburger says I want ketchup again. A bowl of vanilla ice cream is just a vehicle for the toppings, especially Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
I’m learning that so much of what I eat is stuff I don’t actually LIKE. How weird. Yet, it’s a hard habit to break. For instance, I bought an Oscar Mayer sandwich combo (like a Lunchable for grown-ups) and I’m noticing I don’t care for it. The overly processed lunch meat, the plastic-like cheese, and the tasteless sandwich thin are all pretty disgusting. I bought it for convenience, but won’t be buying one again. The only redeeming factor is the bag of Wheat Thins that comes with it. I’m not even thrilled about the chocolate mousse Jello-O. I’m actually hungry, so I’ll eat enough to feel satisfied, but I’m learning a lot.
In the past week or so, I’ve realized that real food makes me feel better (duh!). My meal the other night consisted of fajita filling, which was made up of fresh natural chicken, green and red bell peppers, onion and fajita seasoning. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while – satisfying and delicious. When I was at the grocery store buying these ingredients, I also realized that it’s truly less expensive to buy fresh, natural foods than it is to purchase the processed junk. I think I had an “aha” moment this weekend. I’m still learning, but it’s finally starting to click in my brain and body.
How long have you eaten foods you didn’t like because of something other than hunger?