Today I needed a break. I’d been at my computer for hours and was starting to feel tired and uninspired.
Meditation didn’t feel right – I was concerned that I’d fall asleep.
I had a walk planned for later.
So I decided to do some baking.
Now, this is a pretty big deal. I remember taking baking breaks while I was studying for my regulatory exams. They were more an emotional distraction than they were a true act of self-care, but that story is for another time…
Today, I turned on the tunes and grabbed my ingredients.
While I bopped around the kitchen, I can’t tell you what I was I thinking about.
I can tell you what I was NOT thinking about.
I was not wondering if I’d:
- binge on the cookies or the dough
- done enough exercising to warrant eating cookies
- been good enough this week to eat cookies
- get fat from eating cookies
- get over the guilt for not resisting wanting to bake cookies
If you’ve read my about me page on my site you’ll know that licking a spoon was what killed my last weight-loss attempt. What a stark difference to today where I not only licked the beaters and spatula*, but I also forgot about the cookie dough balls in the freezer!! It was 3 hours later before I even ate a cookie.
This is one expression of the food freedom that I’ve found. My journey has been anything but a straight line, and the work has been worth it. Intuitive eating has given me the tools that I need to enjoy cookies and not worry about eating all of the cookies. In fact, I freeze the cookie dough balls so that I can bake a few cookies when I want them and they’re fresh and gooey every single time. That alone would have caused serious anxiety during my dieting and binge days. They would’ve called to me every single day. I wouldn’t have waited for them to thaw or to cook before they’d be in my mouth.
So what’s different? Why do I feel safe now?
I learned to practice self-compassion.
Weight loss programs and cultural norms told me that cookies were a sometimes food and that they had to be eaten in moderation and not at all if I believed that I was addicted to sugar (which I did, for a long time). I was trained to be ‘on the wagon’ or off.
Self-compassion gave me the skills to live in the middle.
Unconditional permission to eat.
The third principle of Intuitive Eating is Make Peace with Food. It’s poorly understood and often referred to as Permission to Binge.
Here’s how I understand it:
- I’m a grown woman with the affluence to access food whenever I want it.
- I have full autonomy over my food choices.
- Simply put, I can eat whatever I want.
I also understand that I’m not free of the consequences of eating whatever I want. So I know that if I eat a lot of cookies, I won’t feel well (I’ve done it enough times to know this is true).
Since I respect my body and I want to feel good, I only eat enough cookies to feel satisfied. That number varies every time and knowing that there’s no maximum I can refer to my body to tell me when I’m done.
I honour my hunger and my biological need for food.
Letting myself get over-hungry leaves me more vulnerable to pleasure foods (my term for calorie dense, junk food, fast food, sometimes foods, play foods etc). By eating enough food regularly, I’m not trying to eat a meal of cookies (again, something that I’ve done enough times to know that it doesn’t feel good) and since I’m not starving, I can count on my body to tell me if cookies are what I’d like right now (shocking truth – sometimes I don’t want a cookie even when they’re there)
If you’re new to Intuitive Eating and this still seems impossible, please be patient with yourself. Check out Kristin Neff’s work on Self-compassion. And if you can, find a IE certified counsellor to work with. The nuances of IE are where the magic lies and the freedom exists. That stuff is harder to get by simply reading the book.
Dedicated to helping you find peace and power with your body,
Gluten-free baking tip:
Keep a bowl of water nearby so that you can keep your hands damp while forming the cookie balls. It helps keep the batter from clumping up on your hands.