Updated: Feb 14
Lets talk about the exploration stage of intuitive eating. This is the second stage of IE, the first being readiness. Exploration is where I’m at and what an experience it has been. At times it’s been tough, others it has been a lot of fun, mostly it’s been freeing and well, up-lifting.
I went into this stage thinking right I’m ready for this but how do I do this?! How do I give myself the permission to eat literally anything? For me it took a few weeks to fully give myself up to it. I would go to eat something and find myself checking the calories or pausing before I ate, as it’s not something I would have normally eaten or it wasn’t the right time of the day for a bit of toast for example. Breaking those habits took a while and fully allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted took some work. But I kept working on it, I got there and when I did the feeling of freedom is absolutely amazing! In fact I would say it’s better than amazing, it’s like this feeling of relief, a huge weight has been lifted! If your there, then you will know what Im talking about. If your not there yet, don’t worry or panic or beat yourself up! It takes time but it’s worth it.
I have had a blast exploring food. I have rediscovered food and discovered so much about food. If you have been reading my blog, you will already know I discovered I do not love cake as much as I thought, which believe me came as a huge shock. I may not love cake as much as thought but I have rediscovered baking and it’s something I really enjoy. I love making cakes, biscuits and pastry treats for my family. We sometimes all bake together, or I’ll make something with my daughter (she is way more into baking than my son who just wants to be the taste tester as he calls it). I would barely bake with the kids before IE as I couldn’t have baked goods in the house. If they asked me to bake a cake with them I would go into panic mode and try to divert there attention to something else or make up an excuse as to why we couldn’t bake at that particular time. It makes me pretty sad that I was missing out on quality time with my kids because I was scared of calories! That’s time I can’t get back and I can’t believe I let something which now seems so silly get in the way.
I have discovered that I don’t really like hot chocolate either. Its to sickly for me and I’d rather have a different hot drink if I’m going to have one. I have rediscovered peanut butter. Ive always loved peanut butter, it tastes so good and goes with so much and now I can have it whenever I want! It’s also very good at sustaining my hunger which is a bonus. Avocado is another one. Also good at sustaining my hunger and its delicious with bacon. I’m a big cheese lover. I now have it a few times a week, when I wouldn’t go near it before. Oh and peppermint creams are flipping amazing by the way! The list of foods I’ve rediscovered is pretty long, I won’t list them all for you but it has been so much fun exploring food and letting all this food back in.
I’ve also learnt during this stage what foods seem to sustain my hunger. As I mentioned above peanut butter and a avocado being just a couple of them. At first I had literally no idea what my eating pattern would look like. Without a plan in place what was I supposed to eat and how would I know when to eat but I quickly learnt you just eat when your hungry, regardless of what time of the day it is or if I only ate an hour ago! It was surprising how quickly I learnt to listen to my body and figure out what it was it wanted me to eat (although sometimes I do get it wrong) and the bingeing stopped for me fairly early on. As I’ve said before the biggest struggle for me has been feeling my fullness and I’m still working on that.
I can’t talk about this stage of IE without mentioning the weight gain. This is inevitable, it will happen and my advice would be to embrace it. No I never thought I would hear myself saying that but honestly embracing it and accepting it, is the way forward.Yes I have gained weight and when I started gaining weight I freaked out! For years I had been trying to lose weight and here I was letting myself gain weight. I know Im not the only one who has got to this point and nearly gone back to dieting. Its a big adjustment when you have been on a diet for what feels like forever. It’s natural to question it and have doubts but I gave myself a good talking to. I asked myself if I give up on IE then what is the other option? Do I really want to go back to my eating being controlled, forever weighing my food, forever weighing myself, forever ignoring my body and it’s needs?! Back to constantly being hungry? No I bloody well didn’t! At that point I decided I would embrace it And go with it. A few months on and the weight gain seems to have stopped. It doesn’t matter how much weight I’ve put on and I couldn’t tell you how much because I got rid of my scales. I’m learning to accept this is my body, this is how I’m meant to be and as I said in my previous post I will learn to love me.
Above all else, my relationship with food is the best it’s ever been! I don’t think about food continuously anymore, the bingeing has stopped, I no longer look at food as good or bad and I eat what I want without guilt! As a family we are discovering what food freedom looks like which my kids love and I am probably the happiest I have ever been with my eating habits! Im pretty confident of the fact that if I continue with my IE journey, well it can only get better and the fun isn’t over yet! There is still lots more food out there waiting for me to discover. Ive got a feeling I could be in this stage of exploration for a while yet and that’s fine with me.
Thank you for reading, stay safe and happy eating!