My journey towards intuitive eating:
In my teens and twenties I struggled with a number of health issues including kidney stones; painful ovarian cysts and hormonal dysregulation (PCOS); depression; anxiety; insomnia; chronic sinus infections; and chronic neck and shoulder pain.
I sought help, but doctors were at a loss as to how to help me. Sometimes I was given pills and treatments that didn’t help, and other times I was just sent away without hope.
Eventually, I became fed up with western medicine and started looking for other options. I tried yoga, vipassana meditation, traditional Chinese medicine, western herbal medicine, and a variety of “alternative” therapies. I searched everywhere for answers.
My main obsession, though, was nutrition. At 18 I went vegetarian, initially motivated by ethics. I had no idea what to eat, so I researched, and my research brought up information about nutrition. I started believing that my diet was the key to restoring my health and avoiding frightening visits to the emergency room.
My health did improve, gradually but completely. Looking back, I made so many changes that it would be impossible to pinpoint the main cause of my healing. At the time of my healing, though, I was irrationally certain that it was my diet.
In my late 20’s I left my career as a school teacher to enter a master’s program in health education, with specialization in nutrition. My classes fueled my obsession with nutrition and I became the friend we all love to hate; the one who is always sharing fear and shame based articles about how and what you should eat.
My preoccupation with nutrition turned into full blown orthorexia. I didn’t see the signs at the time. I just thought I was excelling at eating “healthy.”
Looking back I can clearly remember moments that would have clued me in if I knew what to look for at the time. I was completely inflexible, unwilling to compromise my standards even if it meant going hungry or missing out on important and meaningful life experiences. I thought about food constantly, prioritizing food above all other life concerns.
I was living the disordered eating experience of becoming completely out of control in the name of being completely in control.
But the healthier my diet became, the more I was plagued with obsessive desire for the foods I wouldn’t allow myself to have. I fantasized about stopping at a gas station for chips and soda on the way home from class. The snack aisle at the grocery store filled me with anxiety.
The task of selecting, preparing, and eating food grew to seem impossibly hard and my eating became more erratic, swinging between following the “perfect diet” and binging on forbidden foods.
Just as I was starting to realize that I couldn’t keep this up, I was introduced to Intuitive Eating. It made so much sense to me and I dove headfirst into learning everything I could about it.
I committed myself to listening to my body’s cues of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. Letting go of all the dieting rules I had internalized was not easy, and I struggled a lot, but I also knew in my heart that I was nourishing myself in the best possible way.
Over time, I’ve been able to reconnect with my inner wisdom. I can once again enjoy the awesome pleasure of eating! I can sense the difference between the craving for a cookie and the longing for a radish, and I honor them both equally. I meet my emotional needs without using or abusing food. I celebrate my body with joyful movement and gentle acceptance. I believe that I am the only one who knows the perfect diet for me.
- Intuitive Eating Counselor Certification, Training and Supervision with Evelyn Tribole
- Coach Training with Linda Bark of Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy
- M.A. Health Education, Specialization in Nutrition, John F. Kennedy University
- Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, San Francisco State University
- B.S. Plant Biology, University of California at Davis
I’ve read countless books on eating psychology, and all of them influence my approach, but these three are my biggest inspirations:
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon
The Rules of “Normal” Eating by Karen Koenig
Things I Love:
- my kid, my bio family, and my chosen family
- watching plants grow, change, and adapt
- gazing at the ever changing sky
- hiking, biking, yoga, tap dancing, and dancing like a fool around the house
- trying new restaurants and new recipes
- radishes, garlic bread, ice cream sandwiches, cashews, peaches, enchiladas…I could go on!
- cutting my own hair, and that of willing friends
- artisanal hipsterfied cocktails and almond milk lattes
- striving to be more eco-friendly
- Chinese acupressure massage
- Oakland (my home!)
- feeling deeply connected to other beings
- seeing clients proud of their transformation
- witnessing my own transformation
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