Intuitive eating; a comparison to other types of diets

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“Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods. It’s a process that is intended to create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, making it a popular treatment for disordered eating and eating disorders. Intuitive eating, just like many other dieting philosophies, goes by many names, including non-dieting or the non-diet approach, normal eating, wisdom eating, conscious eating and more.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intuitive_eating

To many people this may seem like a very simple concept to achieve – eating what you want when you want it, right? To someone who has experienced eating disorders, orthorexia, meal plans, macro counting , whatever fits your spectrum – you will know that the balance of a healthy relationship with food can be an extremely difficult goal to reach.

This post is my views and experiences with other diet approaches, whatever works for you is what works for YOU.

My timeline of different diets from start to current:

1.) Strict meal plans:
This is usually what fitness beginners start with, which is completely normal (if done correctly by a professionally certified trainer). This includes a lot of brown rice, chicken and asparagus, oatmeal, egg whites and perhaps some sort of protein powder once a day. Don’t you even think about adding in salt, seasoning or sugar to anything! Eat the same meals for about two weeks straight, if you drop weight you get a “cheat meal” to congratulate yourself. In my opinion, I am not a dog, I don’t want to be rewarded with food for good behavior.

• What do you like about this approach?
This can be a great way to stay consistent and on track if you’re looking to start eating healthier and in better portion sizes.

• What don’t you like about this approach?
Don’t get me wrong in saying this, if this works for you power to you, but I believe this approach can very easily create orthorexia. Which is exactly what happened in my case; crying over having an extra spoonful of natural peanut butter is not okay.
There are also a lot of online coaches who will give the same meal plan to every client that hires them (the problem with cookie cutter diet plans)
If you’re looking to proceed with this, do your research, find a professionally certified trainer with a good reputation and background.

2.) Macro Counting, IIFYM, or Flexible Dieting:
Macro counting, or other terms such as IIFYM (if it fits your macros) or flexible dieting; is a structured tracking system of calories in fats, protein, and carbs. These numbers are based on what your goals would be; losing weight, gaining mass, or maintaining. This is a great way to learn what is in the food you eat. You’ll soon find yourself looking at the nutritional information in everything you pick up.
You’ll be more aware of the nutrients you’re putting into your body and slowly will learn what foods react in good manner or bad manner

• What do you like about this approach?
I really like macro accounting as it taught me a bit more of balance in my diet again. There are no good and bad foods. Being able to pick up a donut or a piece of pizza and make it fit into my daily intake of food was a huge stepping stone for me. I know a lot of fitness people out there who shake their heads at this, but I can easily have what I want and still be healthy and fit.

• What don’t you like about this approach?
The problem I found personally with this approach; I had already formed orthorexia previous to this, so I almost instantly became obsessed with tracking my food, checking every little nutrient and macro in everything. This in turn became another form of orthorexia, but with a bit more balance and a little less guilt. I think macro counting is a fantastic stepping stone for eating disorder/orthorexia recovery, but it isn’t a solid fix.

3.) Intuitive eating:
Being in-tune with your body’s natural need for nutrition (mentally and physically)
This means no real tracking, meal planning, obsessing, or guilt.

• What do you like about this approach?
I found intuitive eating to be the final step of backing away from orthorexia. This helped me free myself from guilt and obsession of food for good. It took a lot of time and patience to really grasp not being able to track my food 100%, but I can easily say this has been the best approach for someone recovering from an eating disorder/orthorexia. As I mentioned before this can seem like such a simple concept to someone who hasn’t experienced the out of hand obsessiveness of orthorexia, but this was a major turning point for me and I’m sure a lot of others out there relating to my personal struggles.

• What don’t you like about this approach?
This may seem very bias, but I appreciate everything about this approach as it works for me.

The steps I took from beginning to end with the different diet approaches have taught me a great deal about myself and what works for me. This post isn’t about one being better than the other; it is simply about what works for YOU. From my experience intuitive eating works best for me. Whatever works for you, follow it to your hearts content.

Happy Monday Fam.

xo
Karly

Steps to Eating Disorder Recovery

One of the hardest challenges you will face, but I promise you one thing, freedom.

A photo by Morgan Sessions. unsplash.com/photos/YIN4xUBaqnk

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”

– Abraham Maslow

That’s just it, our eating disorders are a crutch, a form of control, a sense of a safe place, something familiar.

I could lie to you and say that I’ve only had to step into recovery once and never looked back, but that would be far from the truth. The amount of times I have relapsed is any between 30-40 hard efforts. Scary statistics I admit. But as scary and hopeless that may sound I never stopped trying, and even if I lost hope I gained it back. It has been almost two years since I have left my illness in the past.

The best advice I can give anyone struggling with recovery?

• Keep busy
Anytime a thought may cross your mind of pursuing purging, go to your new vice. Taking a walk, calling a friend, knitting a sweater (if that’s your thing)

• Keep a journal
Stop yourself and write out your emotions and feelings at that specific moment. Try to connect with why you feel the need to act upon these thoughts.

• Find someone you trust
Having someone as a type of sponsor makes an immense difference. Whether that be a sister, a brother, a friend or an actual sponsor from a help group – find someone you trust and look to them when you are at your low points. Soon you will grow your own strength and confidence to stand alone. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

• Seek professional guidance
Whether this be a psychologist, or a support group – there are many options and different people out there with the specific qualifications to help you. The first step is admitting you need help.

Practice self-love – find your inner peace
Easier said than done, but working towards this everyday bit by bit can make a huge difference in the long run. Take time to tell yourself what you like about yourself.

Stop negative thoughts in their tracks
This goes along with self-love. When you start to judge yourself, stop your thought in its tracks and replace it with a positive comment.  You’d be amazed at what a massive impact this little change can make for you.

Educate yourself
One of the most important things to me was understanding my illness, why I tick the way I do.
Cause and effect.

See: Understanding Eating Disorders

Read other peoples stories
It can be very eye opening to read others stories of their struggles with eating disorders. You’ll be surprised to find a lot of people who are going through similar situations as yours. It is comforting to know you are not alone.

The first steps of recovery are admitting you need help. It is completely normal to feel full of shame and humiliation at first but there is nothing to be shameful about. There are millions of women and men who are currently struggling with the pain and anguish that you yourself may be dealing with.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

xo
Karly

If you’re unsure if you have an eating disorder this may be a helpful tool for you:
Do I have an eating disorder?

Great links to check out: 

National Eating Disorders Collaboration – Understanding Recovery
National Eating Disorders – Recovery
And Then She Recovered – Blog
Finding a Healthy Balance – Blog
Bulimia to Balance – Book by Aeryon Ashlie

When did your eating disorder start?

It’s funny looking at this question and really coming to terms with how I’ve never actually fully answered this question to myself let alone the entire public.

A breakdown of my illness is a combination of:

Bulimia
bu·lim·i·a

noun

  1. insatiable overeating as a medical condition, in particular.
    • an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.

noun: bulimia; noun: bulimia nervosa; plural noun: bulimia nervosas

  • an eating disorder in which a large quantity of food is consumed in a short period of time, often followed by feelings of guilt or shame.

Orthorexia
or·tho·rex·i·a

noun

  1. an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
    • a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods in the belief that they are harmful.

noun: orthorexia nervosa; plural noun: orthorexia nervosa


Body dysmorphic
 disorder (BDD)

is a distinct mental disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see.

 

It began when I was around ten years old;

I was your average pre-teen, skimming through teen magazine, hanging posters of Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys on my wall. I was innocent, and unopened to the real world.
I never thought I was ugly, or fat, or skinny, or anything. It was only until I was introduced to these titles that my mind and body was consumed.

I distinctly remember playing truth or dare in the park with six of my school friends, three of them boys and the other three of us were girls. It was one of the boy’s turns and he picked truth. My friend asked “who is the hottest girl here?” he looked at all three of us and said “well Karly got fat over the summer, so everyone but her”

How blunt and straight arrow this answer was. I had never been called fat. But I knew it was associated with ugliness. My heart sunk and I abruptly left with tears welled in my eyes while the boys laughed. This small insignificant comment set off something in my brain, and haunted me for a large portion of my life.

Now in saying this there have been many factors throughout my earlier years that had caused much of my obsession with my image, weight, and control.

I had experienced an unwanted sexual advance when I was younger, this in turn made a lot of my self worth crumble. My confidence and well being was ripped from me before I even knew I had it.

I to this day hate to revisit the blurry darkness of what had happened, suppressed deep in the corners of my mind it took me 26 years to speak to someone about this experience and it takes every ounce of my soul to type this out. But I know someone out there has experienced what I have and I hope they can read this with some sense of relief of knowing they are not alone.  My sense of self-worth was taken from me before I could even understand what self-worth was.

My illness is a large portion of separation from my inner self and an immense sense to have control over something since those many moments made me feel so out of control of the situation.

I remember refusing to eat and pretending to eat and throwing my meal in the garbage.
I remember the moment I found out that I could eat what I wanted, then throw it up to control me not in taking the calories but still at least somewhat tasting what I had.
I remember skimming those same magazines again and seeing celebrities in their glory, and how different their bodies were from mine.
I remember staring into the mirror, front view to side view and repeating this until I cried.
I remember being so ashamed of my body and my lack of confidence I wore on my sleeve.
I remember where it started, and how long It controlled me and my life.
I was a prisoner inside my own body and mind.

My illness was 24.5 years of the snowball effect. There were many factors to keep the ball rolling, to keep me stuck in this vicious cycle. Constantly filled with anxiety, stress, lack of proper nutrition and lack of hopes for a future free from bulimia, orthorexia and body dysmorphia.

Every day is still a challenge, but my trials and tribulations through my experiences has taught me strength, dedication and persistence to fighting my illness.

The question isn’t when did my eating disorder start, It’s more a question of what caused my eating disorder to begin. I never actually confronted this until I seeked professional guidance. With a lot of love, compassion, and support I came out publicly with my illness.

My simple goal; to reach out to those struggling like I was. To give hope for a life free from the darkness of eating disorders and corresponding mental illness stemming from eating disorders.

Posts to come:

– The first step into the world of fitness
– Steps to ED Recovery

xo
Karly