I Met with an Intuitive Eating Coach. Here's what I learned:
TW: I explain an unhealthy relationship with food, and retell some stories as I explain my meeting with an intuitive eating coach
Last night I met with an intuitive eating coach.
On Saturday I hit diet rock bottom and knew something had to change. It's funny because I've been following anti-diet supporters on instagram, have been in an anti-diet facebook group for months, but they're not kidding when they say you have to figure it out for yourself before you're ready to make a change.
Even though I wasn't on Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, or Weight Watchers (all very diet-y buzzwords), doesn't mean I wasn't stuck in diet mentality, and doesn't mean it wasn't taking a toll on my mental health.
Eating clean, eating paleo, eating vegan, eating gluten-free, eating lectin-free, eating foods aiding in digestion, eating non-toxic, eating whole, not eating at all and simply fasting. HOLY CRAP, WHAT ELSE IS THERE?!
No but really. I would strive to eat so "clean" that by the end of the day my body would binge on foods I was restricting and keeping "off-limits." Then I would feel guilty because I'm a health coach and am going to be a dietitian! How the heck am I supposed to tell others how to eat when I can't even follow the cleanest of the clean diets myself?
I was home alone on Saturday studying for the GRE (turn uppp), and stumbled upon a live video from a Facebook group about restricting, binging, and disordered eating. It was like someone finally understood me.
I immediately scheduled an appointment to meet with her. Suddenly I felt validated, heard, understood, and ready to make a change. Until our meeting, I listened to numerous Food Psych podcast episodes, ordered Intuitive Eating (I found it for under $4 including shipping on this random site haha), and feel like the chains have been lifted off. I feel liberated, more confident, and relaxed.
I had expectations going into this appointment, but came out with a few nuggets that stood out for me. Here are 3 of them:
1. That Is The Purge
I was retelling my history with food, and was explaining my eating disorder in high school. I told her how it involved high restriction, way too much exercise, but don't worry, no purging. Like I somehow had less of a disorder because I didn't purge in the way most of us think.
As great of a listener as she was, she immediately cut me off (for good reason) to say, that is the purge. People who binge tend to exercise for the purpose of burning calories, losing weight, and in response to eating "too much" or "too heavy" of foods. Some people make themselves throw up to eliminate these foods from their body, and some over exercise. Both actions have the same effect, just in different ways.
This really opened my eyes, because although it makes sense, I could always use this to make this issue seem less severe. "Sure, I restricted more, but at least I never made myself throw up!" Meanwhile, I was running, working out, and exercising for the sole sake of burning calories.
2. Where else is there restriction in your life?
I started to tell her how I started my journey on intuitive eating. I didn't restrict at all, ate what I wanted, and became more aware of how I felt while eating. I was saying how I still had the want to binge (binge doesn't have to mean eating 467 meals, it can mean eating until you're uncomfortably full and then feeling guilty) even after doing this. She asked, where else is there restriction in your life? When there's a want or need for a binge, there is restriction somewhere. Sometimes it's from restricting food, but it can also be metaphorical too.
Where is there restriction in your life? Where do you feel you you restricting love, or being restricted from love? Do you feel you will be restricted love from someone if you eat what you want, which you may think may make you gain weight? Where are you feeling restricted in life from being unapologetically yourself?
HEYOO now we're getting to the juicy stuff! But seriously, this is what I needed to hear. It's funny because weight and body image never have to do with weight and body image. Interesting right? It tends to be another part of your life that you are trying to comfort, numb, or distract yourself with through food.
3. Why did I actually want to study nutrition?
I originally contacted an intuitive eating coach because I felt like a fraud for studying nutrition. I felt icky when I would tell someone what, when, or how much to eat. I didn't like promoting weight loss, and couldn't stand being the food police (F*ck the police! lolol).
I voiced this to Sarah, and was instantly relieved. She explained that 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 dietitians have had or sadly currently have an eating disorder or disordered eating. Aside from not feeling like a complete freak for having these thoughts, I was relieved because this is obviously an issue that people need help with.
Aside from popular belief, there are ways to promote health in ways that aren't weight loss.
So there you have it! Obviously a lot more went down during our Skype session, but these were some things I found interesting. I also originally didn't want to post this because I saw it as a weakness. It can be hard to be vulnerable about something that you tie your identity to. "Alex is the healthy foodie. Alex eats healthy all the time! Give me nutrition advice!" It's hard to reveal that you're not perfect in this area you pride yourself on. It's been cool though because I've connected with more people through these posts than any recipe I've ever posted. Some people may not understand, but obsessing over food can lead to so much wasted energy on thoughts about weight, about our imperfections, about food, about being guilty over food, and so on.
Here's to loving ourselves, ppl!