Work It Out: Intuitive Eating

Sometimes I forget to be sensitive.  

 

Or – more accurately – I don’t think.  

I over-simplify.  Or do I?  Today’s Work It Out will continue last week’s discussion on diet with a guest post from my friend Calee.  (Calee also designed my logo, which I loooove!)

sprint2table-workitout

 

Calee has been on a journey with Intuitive Eating.  My insensitive self I emailed her to ask more about this concept.  To me, it seems like overkill.  I mean… isn’t all eating intuitive?  Eat when you’re hungry.  Don’t eat when you’re not.  Prepare tasty, clean foods.

This conversation sparked my “No Shit Diet” post from last week.  It’s simple.  All you need to know is this:

No Shit Diet

So, without further adieu, my sensitive-self will let Calee explain where she’s coming from in regard to Intuitive Eating…. all joking aside, I have learned a lot and hope it will provoke some thoughts for you, too.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Laura and I have been chatting about Intuitive Eating (IE).  She thinks it’s stupid because it seems silly that people need to follow a program to know how to feel hungry and eat until satiated (Editor’s note: I don’t think I said stupid… I just think it’s over-complicating the glory of eating).  So she ended up writing that (amazing) No Shit Diet post last week in response to our conversation.

Me and Calee

Editor’s pic/note: Manhattans… they count as protein drinks, right?

 

Laura is a fortunate soul: she’s never had body image or food issues.  (Editor’s note: That would be a bit generous… I DID go to high school, after all… and after bartending in college I was a chunky monkey.)  I pretty much idolize Laura because she can turn on and off her competition training/eating and not get caught up in dieting.

I went out to eat with her on Saturday — after a few drinks, might I add (Editor’s note: Lies!  I never drink.  Hahaha!) — and not once did she fret about anything on the menu, aside from how it might taste.  She’s not competing soon, and it was vacation.  She ate what she wanted, which wasn’t junk, but wasn’t eating asparagus for every meal either (though surprisingly she yelled at me for taking all the asparagus off the plate we shared!).  Laura eats intuitively, intuitively.  We all would, except most of us have been caught in the diet trap.

 

So what exactly *is* IE?

I can tell you what IE isn’t: “I ordered that Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream Bar … and then ate two.  And now I’m going to run 12 miles because I need to — er, I mean I love running.”  (Editor’s note: is it wrong that I’m now craving Reese’s?)

Eating this chemical shit-bomb of sugar = not eating intuitively

*Eating this chemical shit-bomb of sugar = not eating intuitively

 

IE is learning to love and trust your body, get past the guilt learned from dieting, and feed yourself a healthy way when you’re hungry, but eat only until satiated, not stuffed.  IE is NOT an excuse to eat crap.*

 

I came to IE after years of dieting, specifically, after one huge failed attempt to lose 5 lbs that made me gain 15 instead.  I couldn’t eat any less or workout any more than I was already. And I could (and still can) name calories and macros in just about every food (and non-food).  I lived in the gym.  The scale kept going up.  I saw IE on the shelf, and thought, “why the hell not?”  I never thought it would be life changing, but it was.

I’d heard of IE, but it looked to me (and Laura) like “intuitive eaters” were just eating crap under the guise of “eating intuitively,” and that’s not what I wanted.  (Editor’s note: To clarify – I never thought it was an excuse to eat crap.  Again, it just seemed like slapping a name on common sense to make a millions on a book deal/movement.)

I wanted to be able to eat an avocado or a piece of meat and not have to have celery for dinner or run 10 miles to make up for the calories later.  Oh, and alcohol, sweet, sweet alcohol, had I missed you … But I definitely didn’t want to be one of those “you only live once — pass the chocolate cake” goons who blatantly ignore the point of IE: eat food, get past the guilt, and love yourself.  You are definitely NOT loving your body if you’re shoving it full of crap all the time.  (Editor’s note: Can I get an Amen?!)

 

There is an IE book, and I think Laura should write a book on the “No Shit Diet” (or I will, and she can put her stamp of approval on it for some royalties). The IE book outlines a plan, which I haven’t really followed, but I’ve been practicing the…

Principles that make the most sense to me:

1. Learn (or re-learn) your hunger signals, trust them, and eat when you’re hungry.

2. Figure out what satiated vs. full feels like. Try to eat to satiation, not fullness. Don’t feel like you always have to clean your plate. My dog likes me eating intuitively for this reason.

Slightly embarrassed at how much I left on my plate at this meal. Sorry Chobani!

Slightly embarrassed at how much I left on my plate at this meal. Sorry Chobani!

 

3. Let go of all (non-allergy-related) restrictions.  Everything is on the table.

4. Trust yourself around food.  You are in control.  Food isn’t.

That means you, ice cream.  I own you now. And I can have you for lunch if I really want (and I did in this photo because that's how I roll now).

That means you, ice cream. I own you now. And I can have you for lunch if I really want (and I did in this photo because that’s how I roll now).

 

5. There are no more “bad” or “good” days based on food, your weight, or your workout.

6. Stop.  Weighing.  Yourself.  (And counting calories/macros/etc.) Unless you are seriously over- or under-weight, then get to a healthy weight before you stop.  Truly eating intuitively and exercising intuitively will lead you to your body’s natural weight, and towards health.

7. Health is your main goal. Pick whole, nutrient-dense (or clean —  but I prefer “nutrient-dense” because everybody has a different opinion on what “clean” is), and non-processed foods.

8. Use your dieting knowledge for good instead of evil.  Aim for variety in food groups and nutrients to get what your body needs.  (Editor’s note: I think this is my FAVORITE idea.  You’re smart – make it a positive!)

I jazzed up last night's pizza with a pile of broccoli.  Yeah, there's pizza under there somewhere.

I jazzed up last night’s pizza with a pile of broccoli. Yeah, there’s pizza under there somewhere.

 

9. Eat slowly to enjoy your food and really decide if you like something.  I don’t like chicken, come to find out.  And I also don’t really like all my “banned” foods from my dieting years.  Donuts are a sugar-coated crusty fried ring of gross.

(Editor’s note: I don’t like Twinkies, candies like Starburst, or… POP-TARTS!  Except for the vanilla-filled ones)

Cereal, on the other hand (one of my previously banned foods) is still really flipping awesome.

Cereal, on the other hand (one of my previously banned foods) is still really flipping awesome.

 

10. Don’t judge: yourself, others, or what you’re eating/what activities you do based on what you’ve already eaten.  Yes, nutrition should be in the back of your mind, but don’t eat something “good” because you’ve eaten something “bad.”

Don’t ever feel like you don’t “deserve” something because you didn’t work out.

dessert

Me enjoying my dessert at Blend last weekend on a – gasp – rest day. That’s right. I had dessert and didn’t work out.

 

11. Because I like to turn things up to 11.  Don’t. Eat. (only). Crap.  Have some crap from time to time (if you like crap), but if you eat only crap, you’ll feel like crap, perform like crap, and you’ll probably look like crap too.  But if that’s your choice, that’s cool with me as long as you are HAPPY.  (Editor’s note: Suddenly I have the urge to take a crap…)

 

I’ve been practicing these principles since January.  I jokingly tweeted Laura that our butts met in the middle (mine got smaller and hers got bigger), and she asked for pictures.  So I took some.  And some more here.

January to late April

January to late April

 

And after she (and others) said that I looked a lot smaller / more toned, curiosity got the best of me and I stepped on the scale.  I’ve lost 7 pounds, but I put the scale back, because I know putting it away really let me succeed in finding a healthy relationship with my body and food, and it’s really freaking empowering to be in control of yourself and in control of your body again.

 

Spending time with all my fabulous Blends this weekend cemented my decision to continue my IE journey.  If I have to hear one more person talk about eating a bigger snack or breakfast because we kicked ass at boot camp twice this weekend, I will slap a bitch.  My body and I are starting to find a happy place, and seeing others where I used to be just reminds me how much I don’t ever want to be there again.

 

Where do I go from here? I keep working on it.  And I love Laura’s No Shit Diet (anti-)rules — they’re a super-simplified version of what I’ve been working on with IE.

There’s another piece to the IE puzzle: intuitive exercising, which I’m just beginning to figure out for myself.  But that’s a completely different post for a different day. 

*I wholeheartedly agree with Laura: diet is personal. If you know you have to count calories, watch carbs, or whatever to maintain a HEALTHY weight (not to be supremely hot and skinny!), then IE might not be for you. But I urge everybody to give it a try, if even for a week or two. Or even just read the book because there are principles that everybody can use in the book.

***

I would love to have more conversation about this – I know several of my friends have been on the IE train… please check out Calee’s conversation questions below.  Your thoughts on this would be really interesting to us!

Do you follow a specific diet?  

Have you ever tried eating intuitively or dieting?  How have you fared?

Who else thinks Laura should write the “No Shit Diet” book?  (Editor’s note: Noooooo!  That over-complicates it!)

 

Comments

  1. says

    Great post, Calee & hilarious commentary, Laura! I feel like IE has been brought up so much in the blog world to a point that it’s become a laughable movement. This is one of the few posts which actually showcases it in its intended light. I especially liked your point “Use your dieting knowledge for good instead of evil. Aim for variety in food groups and nutrients to get what your body needs. (Editor’s note: I think this is my FAVORITE idea. You’re smart – make it a positive!)”.

    Especially because of the number of eating disorders (past or current) in the blog world, I feel like any conscious effort to eat healthy (e.g. foregoing dessert because you ate a huge dinner) is automatically interpreted as disordered behavior. There’s a difference when you refer back to your dieting knowledge as opposed it to living your life by it.

    • says

      Thanks, Khushboo! I agree so much with your last statement: “I feel like any conscious effort to eat healthy is automatically interpreted as disordered behavior.” That, right there, is why I think I had to do something like IE to get where I’m at without being questioned. My IRL friends were sometimes nearly forcing me to eat crap (french fries, burgers, etc.) when I really seriously DID want a salad or a piece of fish or whatever. They interpreted my enjoyment of good, healthy food as an old eating disorder I had. Which is funny, because when I had a borderline eating disorder, I ate mostly crap (low-fat diet crap and junk food) and was nearly exercise bulimic and abused laxatives. Hmm. I think getting a salad and enjoying it is a much. better. choice.

      thanks for reading!

      • says

        Gah! I HATE that just because you might actually LIKE eating vegetables you suddenly have an eating disorder. Or just because you really don’t like donuts, and would prefer oatmeal, you are ‘weird.’ It all comes from a place of judgement, and, unfortunately, it is really hard to avoid feeling pressure from the judgement of others. [At least for me.]

      • Laura says

        Agreed! My co-worker just commented on my food choices this morning… but I legit LIKE my Greek fo-yo creations on a plane. Stick that in your dry Starbucks scone and smoke it.

  2. says

    I did read the IE book back in the day and will still pick it up now and again…I like the idea, but I feel like it gets warped in translation for a lot of bloggers. The idea of eating what you crave and eating until you’re full seems great, but I know that a lot of girls use it as an excuse to restrict because ‘they’re just eating what they’re craving!’ The idea of it itself is great, if not a tad over-complicated for a simple idea.

    • says

      agreed. i didn’t reveal that my counselor had mentioned it a few times before i actually decided to pick it up. i think with anybody who’s had a bad relationship with food, reading a book alone, or reading blogs to get information isn’t probably the best way to go about it. it’s a big process to get to a healthy relationship with food and your body. i’m not 100% there, and I may never be, but I’m more there than I have ever been. If I wasn’t working with a professional, I doubt I would have gotten to this point. She really helped me process what I was thinking about IE and break down what IE really is into this system that seems to work for me.

  3. says

    I agree with both points of view – it is information that should be common sense but so many get screwed up along the way to where common sense becomes skewed in the minds of someone who has suffered an eating disorder or severe body image issues. I had to relearn all of these things for myself and Intuitive Eating principles were huge in helping me get past binge eating. I love that you both emphasize honoring our bodies and that eating a ton of junk is NOT doing so. Love to you both!

    • says

      Tina, I think you and I are pretty similar with our past history with disordered (or near disordered) eating. I remember reading your posts about your binges and thinking about all the times that I did that, and then exercised (or abused laxatives, or both) to purge. Reading your journey has really helped me. I love where you’re at. Loved that post about “I know I’m not my leanest, BUT …” because I can so relate.

      I didn’t mention it, but my boyfriend has been helping me practice these principles, and through that, he’s been able to mostly kick binge eating (it was really, really bad, and I had no idea it was even happening), and since I’ve been exercising “intuitively” (really I don’t like labeling all of this either, but I think I needed to put my interpretation of IE out there b/c so many people have the wrong idea!), the BF has been actually excited to try exercise again, and was at the gym when I was at Blend this weekend. I about fainted when I got a text from him that said “yeah, I think I’m going to do arms and abs today at home, then hit the gym tomorrow” out of nowhere.

    • Laura says

      I can 100% see how that would be a challenge for a lot of competitors – you are SO focused on diet for so long that it does take some time to mentally shift away.

  4. says

    LOOOVE the concept of both. I think the key is to ENJOY food, not obsess, yes? Calee you look great! and you are thriving! Laura, well, you know good food. That’s a gift. Embrace that no shit diet.
    ;-)

    love you both

    • says

      weirdly, through all this, i finally got to the point where i don’t inhale my food (most of the time!) and i’m not “hangry” anymore when i get home from a workout. i used to basically starve all day long (though I’d eat tiny meals, but 4 100-calorie meals aren’t enough for the workouts i used to do!) and then eat a ton and inhale it at night. no thanks. none of that anymore. i do have to be careful about eating much within 2-3 hours before a workout because my GI system totally sucks and it’s unpredictable and i have weird food allergies/sensitivities that we can’t figure out. otherwise, i just eat when i’m hungry and pack a big bag of random stuff from the fridge when i go to work every day.

      • Laura says

        So I think I have a weird approach to this. I love to eat slow and make it last… I’m sad when a good meal ends! Clearly, I need to move to Italy. Who’s with me?! ;)

        • says

          I don’t think that’s a weird approach. I think that’s where I’ve finally gotten. Noticed a couple weeks ago when my friend and I went to my fav Indian buffet that she scarfed 3 plates before I’d gotten through one. SO GOOD.

  5. says

    I’ve been working toward intuitive eating since March, and after fifteen years of diets it’s an incredibly difficult transition. Turns out I have no idea what actual hunger feels like because I’ve always just eaten constantly or ignored my hunger in favor of planned, measured, over controlled eating. Because of that pattern it’s quite difficult for me not to binge a little when previously forbidden foods suddenly reappear amongst my options, but over time their constant allowance means they lose their power and I am in control. So it’s a log process for me, but one that has me thinking and feeling with more balance and much needed self-love. And for the record, I tried it out of desperation after years of insisting it was an excuse to binge.

    • says

      I have also dieted for years (I guess it has been about 10 years for me? wow.) I have tried IE on-and-off, but never really for long enough to undo all of the massive emotional/mental hangups that I developed while dieting and restricting. As soon as I stop counting calories, I also find myself going crazy on foods that are now “allowed.”

      What the whole experience has shown me is that I have serious trust issues…with myself. There are certain foods that I refuse to buy because I don’t trust myself / don’t want to tempt myself.

      I’m really glad to hear that IE is working for you. Do you feel like it has gotten easier over the past few months?

      • says

        It gets easier if I remember to reframe my thinking. I tried it for the month of March, then got frustrated that the bingeing didn’t stop and gave up. Then I tried again in April, and same thing. May has been a full reset for me, with a concentration on thinking less about it, on patience with myself. everyone I’ve talked to has said it can take MONTHS to get to the point where you aren’t overeating on your trigger foods. It is getting easier, but it’s a very slow process, and in the meantime I did gain a few pounds. I feel more balanced this month though, so I think I’ve finally hit a progress point. That being said, there are still some foods I don’t buy because I know I’ll overeat them, and I think that’s alright too. I don’t think that’s anti-IE. To me, I see that as knowing my body well enough to know what I’ll do, and those foods are universally the sorts of foods that don’t make my body feel good. Just recently I’ve switched away from the idea that IE is about eating what I “want” all the time, since so many diets have skewed my understanding there. Now I’m focusing on eating what I know my body responds happily too, which is what I really “want” whether I know it or not, and I’m more satisfied by far.

        • says

          I totally believe that it could take months (or maybe longer?) before you would be able to stop overeating foods that had been restricted or forbidden for years.

          Feeling balanced is such a huge deal! It makes me really sad to think about how many cumulative hours/days/weeks of my life that were spent stressing over food. To compare it to an addiction might not be far off? I’m scared that bad things will happen if I stop.

          Your last point is so good! I like the idea of eating now what you WANT to eat, but more on what will be good for your BODY. I can think of plenty of things that I would want to eat, but that would make me feel awful and that’s not the point of IE.

          • says

            I love this discussion you two are having.

            Heather: the scariest part of IE (or the No Shit Diet — anything where you give yourself permission to just eat food) is the potential for weight gain. You will probably gain some weight, but it isn’t going to last if you can work through the underlying issues that you have with your relationship to food. I’m sure I gained weight in Jan/Feb this year when I was taste-testing junk foods to see what I thought, and when I was all “woo i can have ice cream for lunch again” … every day for a week … and then I got to the point that Alex was talking about, where I realized that I don’t LIKE feeling like crap, even though something was tasty and I enjoyed eating it. Sugar is a killer for me. I love sugar. But I did a quit-sugar experiment this year, and I’m glad I did (right before I dove into IE actually). I cleaned up my products that don’t need sugar (yogurt, bread, etc.) and focused on really enjoying the treats that I have that are sugary (chocolate, dessert, etc.) from time to time. Sugar actually makes me really, really depressed. The first few months of IE were extra hard because of that factor since I was eating a bunch of sugary things that I’d banned for years.

            I do think that not buying trigger foods is wavering on the line of using your diet knowledge for good. I did test myself with a few, and I don’t binge on them, but I did eat more of them than I would have liked to at a time. I ended up making a meal out of some of those trigger foods, and I felt yucky because I wasn’t nourishing myself. So I just quit buying them. I think just knowing that they are there and reminding yourself that you CAN have them if you would like to have them is a big thing. I know I can have M&Ms if I want them, but I also know if I buy a big bag of them to make cookies with, that I’ll just end up eating the rest while the cookies are baking.

          • says

            I think the fear is totally natural. I had it too. I still have it. But I find that if I really concentrate and pay a lot of attention to my feelings, it helps. In the beginning (for about a month) I kept a written journal of why I ate what I did, or at least what I was feeling/thinking about at the time, and what if any physical or emotional reactions I had afterward. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it for the insight I gathered.

            I say you should try it for a while, and just see how it feels. Almost immediately I felt more relaxed, less constantly focused on food.

          • says

            Thanks for chiming in, Calee! (See what I did there? har har!)

            But to the point, yes, I definitely agree that there are some major underlying issues that I need to work through before I’ll ever be able to handle IE…issues that aren’t fun to face or easy to think about, but that should definitely be confronted. For my entire adult life, stressing/obsessing over food is all that I have known. It’s exciting (and a little scary) to think about living another way.

            I love sugar so, so much, but it makes me feel ultra crappy, too. I get dehydrated and headachey and lethargic. I wonder if these sugar massacres/crashes are necessary growing pains on the path to IE. Like…not sure if it’s similar, but I actually stopped drinking a few years ago after one of the worst hangovers ever. I’m at the point where I’m completely uninterested in alcohol and it holds no power over me at all.

            “reminding yourself that you CAN have them if you would like to have them is a big thing”
            Yes! This is a huge, empowering thing that I aspire to. I had written about having some trust issues with myself and I think that knowing I can have what I want when I want is the light at the end of that tunnel.

            Heather, that journal is a really fantastic idea. I know that my path to IE will be more about working out mental and emotional issues and lots of writing/reflecting would be hugely beneficial.

            You two are so inspirational! You have given me so much to think about.

          • says

            This is the coolest conversation chain ever!

            Funny, I did a seven day no sugar challenge right before jumping into IE too. I learned I actually like the taste of coffee, which I couldn’t really taste under all the sugar and creamer.

        • Laura says

          I adore this whole conversation. The point about learning to trust yourself helped me understand IE better, actually. Knowing that your body will tell you what you want and need is a huge thing. It may sound odd, but I learned a lot about my body’s cues since training for my competition.

          Also, I love black coffee. ;)

  6. says

    This is a great post, Calee! I started eating intuitively back in November and it really feels great. Granted, I am currently trying to lose some fat, so I’m no longer eating as intuitively as I would like, but at least I’m smart enough to know the difference.

    This was a great explanation of what IE actually is. I feel IE is become too trendy and bloggers are praising IE from the rooftops without actually understanding its proper meaning. To those lucky people who have never struggled with disordered eating, I can see why the concept seems a little bit weird – like, aren’t you just eating?! But this was a great breakdown!

    • says

      Tara — I love that you’re at a point where you know the difference. I would like to get to that point so I could lose a bit of body fat, but then be able to turn it off when I know I’ve lost what I want, and not go crazy like I used to. I know if I lost a bit of body fat that running would be a little easier and I’d enjoy it as much as I used to without some of the pain that I have been experiencing in my feet since that 15-lb gain. But I’m not quite at that place yet. And I’m actually kind of curious where I’ll be by the end of this year if I just keep with the no-tracking, no-shit, non-diet thing that I’m doing. :) It’s kind of IE, but not really? I really just wanted to lay out my interpretation of it because I think a lot of ppl think it’s either an excuse to eat crap, or an excuse to continue disordered eating habits because they’re “eating what they crave” but really just denying themselves. It’s just learning how to feed yourself like a human. :)

      • Laura says

        That was exactly my problem with it – “aren’t you just eating?!” Which is where I started feeling insentitive because I’m leanring eating doesn’t come intuitively to some people.

  7. says

    I honestly have one friend who I feel eats intuitively. (Laura, you’ve actually met her before, the big DMB fan) She mostly eats healthy but if we go out for dinner, she’ll get whatever she wants and stop eating when she’s full. I think that’s what intuitive eating is really about – figuring out how to read your hunger cues and fullness cues.

    What bothers me is that there are so many posts on the subject (not this one, just in general) where people feel like they are craving something because they lack the nutrients and I just don’t think that’s true. If you want some cheese, maybe you just want some cheese, it wasn’t your body saying you needed more protein. If you ate an extra helping of dinner, maybe you just wanted it because it tasted good, it wasn’t your body saying you needed more calories. I think that’s what bothers me about all the IE posts out there.

    I like the ideas you’ve laid out here and think that truly eating intuitively can work. But is it intuitive if you’re thinking about it being so?

      • says

        oh and RE: I just want some cheese. I totally agree. I think there are times when you crave something and your body just wants x, y, or z. But I think those times are few and far between (like a vegan friend of mine who started craving eggs … her body was actually telling her something). I’m especially wary when sugar and caffeine are involved in what you’re craving because those are proven to be addictive substances. Your body is actually trained to inhale as much sugar as possible because it used to be a sign of calorie-rich / nutrient-dense foods. That’s really only true with fruit now. That’s why it seems like nobody can stop eating sugary treats. Your brain is telling you MORE MORE MORE. I do still have to be conscious of sugary treats. but when I crave something I have an inner dialogue that’s something like: “Okay, self, do you really want a piece of chocolate, or is it something else? Are you feeling stressed? Are you actually hungry?” If I’m actually hungry, I ask myself if something else will do, but if it won’t, I go for the craving because otherwise I’ll be eating a bunch of other random stuff just chasing the craving all night (which is why I failed so miserably at dieting last time).

        • Laura says

          Lee just said it perfectly from my perspective. I just want some stinkin’ cheese because I love stinky cheese. ;)

          Side note: have you noticed a LOT of vegans are now eating eggs? Maybe easier to get farm raised?

          • says

            I don’t understand the whole vegans eating eggs thing. and that’s probably why i don’t like putting a label on diets. farm-raised, flax-fed eggs are really, really good. i’m actually going to try your egg on a pancake thing (including the yolk. yes. yolk) this weekend or as soon as I make breakfast food. our eggs that we get here are SO good. i just don’t like nasty weird yellow yolks. *egg snob*

    • says

      Good question. No, it’s not really intuitive if you’re thinking about this as a program. I think at first it’s just another diet program in a way (though hardcore IE people will slap me for saying that). It’s another way to think about how to feed yourself, which is really what every diet out there is. But it’s the default way we’d feed ourselves if nobody ever taught us otherwise I think.

      So yeah, at first, not really “intuitive”, but once you get to a point where you and food are cool again, then it’s very intuitive. I just eat now. I think that’s where the comment about wanting to “slap a bitch” came from because I seriously just don’t want to hear people drone on and on about food and what they can’t have and can have, etc. I have food allergies (I think … that’s another post on my blog for another day because I’m still figuring out what’s wrong) so there are foods I actually CAN NOT eat. And it sucks. So if you can physically eat everything and like most everything, then why deny yourself? Right before I tried IE I had tried quitting sugar, and got really militant about it and was cutting out FRUIT. I still think sugar is the devil and is what is really making us all fat / sick, but I’m not ridiculous about it. I just don’t eat like every day is Christmas anymore.

  8. says

    I’ve kind of thought the same thing. I’m kind of a control freak, so I suppose a little more IE would be a good thing, but I kinda’ like where I’m at right now. No complaints, and I’m not ready to give up my scale. ;)

    • says

      If you’re happy, then I’m happy that you’re happy and if you’re really in a good place, then you rock! :) IE is there if you ever get to a point where things aren’t really that great and need to build a good relationship with food again.

    • says

      PS giving up the scale was the HARDEST thing I have done in this whole process. I didn’t mention that I was working with a counselor, but I have been and I switched counselors in March. The first thing she told me to do was throw out all my clothes and buy a new wardrobe. So my reaction was, “Bitch. I am going to fit into my clothes again, without dieting, you will see!” And I have. The first chunk of the IE book talks about how you’ll get to your natural weight and I was (and still am) convinced my natural weight wasn’t that 15-lb gain that I had last year. F. That.

      So yeah, back to the scale. The counselor and I had talked and she was saying to just try it for a couple of weeks and if I’m not comfortable with it, go back. I saw so much progress in those two weeks with strength gains in the gym, less binge triggers, faster and more enjoyable runs, etc. that I left that sucker in the closet. I have a zero scale anyway so I dunno how much I weigh anymore, but I did step on and saw I lost 7 lbs. I was really worried I’d gained even though the photos obviously show a little loss.

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing! I might be practicing IE right now, but honestly I don’t want to put a label on it. The no shit diet sounds simple enough, but when you’ve spent years freaking out over eating this or that, it takes time to change. I’ve been working on it for 6 years now, and I have definitely made some progress, but I’m not ready for the no shit diet because I know there will be days where it doesn’t work with me and there will be days when it does. And that’s just fine!

    • says

      I think that’s exactly where I’ve gotten. It was IE at first when I was truly having to work on it, but now I just eat food. Sometimes I have to really check in with myself (when I’m tired, stressed, or PMSing) to make sure that I’m not just eating my feelings. And sometimes I am, and I acknowledge it, and decide that it’s okay to do that on occasion if I’m actually cognizant of my feelings and that I’m working through the real problem and not just masking with a binge. So “eating my feelings” now is a bit different than before. Instead of binging and eating a pint of ice cream or several bowls of cereal, I might buy a pint of ice cream and have a bite or two to get the craving out of my system, but not stuff myself because I’m not hungry. Or if I know when I’m hungry for dinner that I really do want ice cream, I just get ice cream for dinner. Not the healthiest of options, but it kills the craving and my hunger, and typically I don’t eat the entire pint anymore anyway.

  10. says

    I find it all interesting. I do think people need to find what works for them. Many do IE & it has not worked for many. I am one that likes to know APPROXIMATE calories for me, the stats – approx & portion control & c=kinda close to 40-30-30 but my own way.. it does not have to be perfect every day & it all works out over 7 days. I call myself a mindful eater.. pay attention to what I eat, know when I do & don’t want something, stop when full but not stuffed… that type of thinking. Since I have been at this so long, I don’t need to log or weigh or anything.. I modify to what I know works for me. With age, it really gets crazy & IE in the traditional sense would not work for me based on my bod & what hormones have done to me! ;) I can be hungry even when I know I should not eat more.. age & weight gain is the truth for most… I was already doing everything I was supposed to do when it hit so all I could do was change my food…

    • says

      I love this perspective. I think at some point I’ll go back to tracking some things, and I like the idea of approximations. I’m trying to avoid thinking about that because I’m newly off my disordered habits, and I know it’d get unhealthy again if I did it right now. I have a friend (Heather at Better with Veggies) that is really good about meal planning and she’s doing a program that requires her to calorie count (starting yesterday, actually). She and I were talking about how calorie counting is lame, so she was just going to meal plan and get close to (or actually on) the calories, but not track them or stress out about it all week as she’s feeding herself.

      Also, I hope to be where you are when I’m 55. My mom’s 52 and she’s finally starting to make peace with food I think and is really thinking about nutrition over weight. She’s never been supremely overweight, but like a lot of us I think, she was seemingly always dieting. I think having the knowledge I have about nutrition and exercise will be really helpful to me as I age.

  11. says

    Great post!

    I think the big thing I think of when it comes to IE is that it can be a very tough, even deceiving, “diet” for people who have dieted (in the crash-diet, fad-diet sense of the word) their way into having a body that doesn’t know its cues and doesn’t physiologically know when it needs food. When people have dieted so much that they starve themselves all day and then eat dinner, skipping meals, the body’s metabolism is so off-cue. It’s really important to start fueling throughout the day so the body can begin to adjust to eating normally. Then you can begin to focus on your body’s cues. If you’ve been starving all day, your body probably doesn’t cue you in on hunger at any particular time. (I skipped breakfast for so long that I still, despite eating breakfast again, don’t always feel hunger when I wake up – when I should after fasting for overnight hours.)

    IE is like the “eat-clean diet” to me. They aren’t really “diets” in the sense of the word people think they are, and I hate that they tend to be referred to as “diets”, don’t you? They should be “obvious” to all of us, but unfortunately, there’s an industry that has taught us FAR different. “Diet” should mean “the food we eat” and that’s it. Nothing else. (Sorry for the long-winded comment. <3)

    • says

      Agreed — “diet” should be what it means: the food we eat. There shouldn’t need to be labels (paleo, vegan, etc.) and people should just be able to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, and have a healthy relationship with food.

      Learning my hunger cues was really interesting. I realized when I thought I was hungry was when I was starving, and that I was getting H-angry alllll the time. My boyfriend really, really appreciates me honoring my hunger now. ;)

      • Laura says

        Amen. I hate “diets,” but this has made me come to realize that the intent is a healthy lifestyle and moving away from the bastardized meaning of diet.

        P.S. We encourage long-winded, Melissa.

  12. says

    It is great to read her experience. intuitive eating is something that for so long I couldn’t practice because of the unhealthy mindset but there came a point where I actually had a dietitian make me start incorporating it, letting me find a bit more trust in my mindset. I think there comes a time for IE and a time that sometimes it just should be focused on (for example ED recovery, depression, mental disorders, etc)

    • says

      so agreed with this. i didn’t mention that i’ve been working with a counselor previous to finding this book and i picked it up when i was between counselors. my previous one had mentioned it, and my new one has been working through it with me. i think it would have been a really good book for me to read when i was severely depressed in 2009. i wasn’t eating. period. because i wasn’t aware of hunger signals from years of dieting, and i wasn’t in the mood to eat. if i had recognized some of my hunger signals, i might have been apt to feed myself. especially knowing that eating good food would have helped me get through that dark period much faster. i lost 10 pounds in 2 months and was wavering on a double-digit weight (I’m short, but it was still not super healthy esp. given the way I’d gotten there b/c i lost ALL muscle).

  13. says

    Awesome guest post, Calee!! I loved this–so well written/explained, and obviously you have come a long way over the past few months. I’m so proud of you!!

    You’re right that Laura is blessed to be SO well-grounded with her eating habits. It’s refreshing! I strive to be the same way, and while I’m not perfect, for the most part I’m happy and healthy and I choose foods that make me feel good and what I enjoy eating.

    • says

      awww thanks. i seriously want to give you a hug right now. :) so glad we got to meet finally last weekend. i’ll let you know when we’re in chicago. i have a wedding over 4th of july weekend but not sure if i’m going to go. and i totally just hijacked laura’s blog to tell you that. ;) LOVE YOU! haha.

      • Laura says

        I’m in Chicago right now. The conference room is cold and it’s thundering. Michelle, can you rescue me?

        • says

          ha, if you were going to be there this weekend (which I doubt), we could have a rockin’ time. Mark is going to go on this canoe trip that is between here and Chicago, and I could totally just keep driving …

  14. Anonymous says

    I find the whole concept of labelling ‘Intuitive Eating’ kind of odd. If you have to PRACTICE it, how INTUITIVE can it be, really?\

    To me it looks like just another bunch of diet rules.

    Interesting discussion though and I did read all of the comments, too.

    I think everyone has to find and DO what works for us as individuals. I FEEL and perform better when I eat a certain way, but once in a while, do stray when I am presented with something worthy of straying!

    Good luck with your quest for health and fitness.

  15. says

    Hi Calee! I saw you and Blend but don’t think I ever got to meet you :( Anyway, I feel like I follow these principles for the most part! After those workouts, I definitely did eat more, but it was just because I was hungrier! And those tarts were amaaaazing.

  16. says

    Heather and I talked a lot about this on our plane ride to Blend. I can see both sides of the equation. I think for those of us who have had food and body issues before – we have to work our way through IE until we can reach the “no shit” diet mentality which is a great place to be. For some, the latter comes more easy. I have mad respect for both you girls and the ways your are honoring your bodies. Great meeting ya’ll this weekend.

    • Laura says

      Tess, that is how I’ve come to look at it as well. Like step 1 and step 2. :)

      Awesome meeting you!!! I just wish we’d had more time. Next year!

  17. says

    I love how you addressed the fact that intuitive eating is more for people who have “UNLEARNED” intuitive eating and fallen into obsessive, controlling or addictive behavior with food.

    Because, yes, it is not gonna make sense to a lot of people.

    To me, “Eat when you’re Hungry and Don’t eat when you’re not” is surely a simple equation but FAR FAR FAR from easy to solve and I complicate the heck out of it.

    Plus I suck at math. Gosh I wish I were one of the lucky ones who never unlearned their bodies natural rhythms about eating. Luckily, as you have shown we CAN re-learn them.

  18. says

    I love this post, and I wish I could say I have totally turned everything around, but, as you know, I still have some steps to go when it comes to eating (and exercising) simply because food is good, and exercise is healthy. I have, for the most part, stopped counting calories–over the weekend I definitely couldn’t, and didn’t, and didn’t worry. Guess what? My clothes still fit on Monday! I didn’t even work out that hard–although my thighs would tell you differently (dang squats)–but I also didn’t have dessert on Friday night, because I was super satisfied with the dinner I had eaten. I didn’t over-stuff myself with food just because it was there. I ordered pizza on Saturday night, with a salad, and when the dressing didn’t come on the side, I just ate it anyway. I ate veggies for a snack because–guess what?–I actually LOVE vegetables. I know it sounds silly, but these little things were actually huge for me.

    I have never said that I’m working on IE, or following that ‘program,’ because I’m not. I’m really just trying to figure out how the heck I lost the girl who tried to balance out her eating, didn’t restrict herself from trying anything (and everything–hello pig brain!), and just loved food.

    Fear of weight gain for some reason just keeps forcing me into a ‘diet mentality’–which I blogged about last week–despite the fact that not only do I look good, I could probably gain weight, and even when I was two sizes bigger, I STILL looked good.

    I’m rambling, and you already know where I’m at. :)

    • says

      Also, Laura, I don’t think you are insensitive, I think you are just LUCKY. You really just know how to approach eating in a way that should come easily for everyone, but doesn’t. I wish I knew why some people can rise above the need to think so much about what they are consuming, but we can’t all do it. I’m not offended by your confusion…I’m jealous of it!

      Like I said, though, I think this weekend was a huge ‘restart’ for me. Not when it comes to exercise, because I’m still feeling a bit like I need to go run 10 miles, despite the fact that I’m in a running slump, but with eating, definitely.

      • Laura says

        Thanks, friend! Also, I really loved your post last week. All the convos and emials with you, Calee, and Heather have taught me a lot. :) *group hug*

  19. says

    I’ve been really curious about this whole concept too but too lazy to do any research. Thanks for getting Calee to share her insights! I’m with Laura in that it seems like intuitive eating is just what it sounds like… common sense… but I think it is wonderful that someone has spelled it out for the people who don’t naturally do this on their own.

  20. says

    I do think I eat intuitively on the regular. My nutritionist recommended (disclaimer: this is not for everyone) to fast for 24 hours. My stomach became hungry when it was really hungry and when the “time to eat” passed so did the hunger. It made me realize what the real hunger cues were and when I should be eating.

  21. says

    Great post! Thanks for the lesson in IE. I didn’t realize that’s pretty much how I eat! Hurray, I pass Laura’s No Shit Diet Test! (love the editor’s notes, by the wayi)

  22. says

    thanks for your input on IE – although I have no read the book, I am very curious about various view point on this topic. I dont follow any diet or anything but focus on 90/10 rule and make unprocessed (mostly) meals at home while splurging every now and then. But in my experience, there is a thin line between balanced eating vs. obsessive behaviors and trying to find a balance between those two, being happy with our present weight or state or health is the most challenging part.

  23. says

    Love this – now I want to do more research!!
    I think that for the most part I eat intuitively (I just didn’t know that was the name for it).
    Great post and much food for thought!!

    • says

      I think that’s the point — don’t put a label on it. :) Just keep doing what you’re doing and if you want to pick up the book, there are principles / practices that are good for anybody to learn about. They have a whole chapter on emotional eating and how to work through that if that’s an issue (which it is for a lot of people).

  24. says

    I am really glad this works for some people, but for me it’s not something I could do. I have zero natural self control & if I had the choice would choose way more crap than is best for my body. BUT, I agree 100% with several of the premises — eating shouldn’t make you feel guilty or take over your life. :)

    • says

      Agreed. I think you eat intuitively, but with a plan. If that makes sense? You eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, which is kind of the main purpose of all of this. Your goal is health / fitness, and not being a skinny minny. :)

      • Laura says

        I think Heather makes a good point – IE doesn’t HAVE to work for everyone. For me, it would be over-thinking. And I want to count my protein, dammit! ;)

  25. says

    I think we all have to find out happy place where we feel comfortable with what we eat and make it work for whatever we are trying to accomplish. I’m an old school calorie counter with a focus on getting the right macros in. I workout and love it, so I eat to fuel what I do. If I could live on vegetables, fruits and oatmeal alone…I would. I’m guilty of loving those the most. However, I NEED protein to fuel my body. So, to make sure I get enough calories with my veggie heavy diet and to ensure that I get the protein I need…I can not intuitively eat. I love the post though. I think we all learn from each other and this will surely help others trying to find there way to a happy place with food!

    • Laura says

      Unrelated: I ordered whipped cream on my Americano earlier and the lady said “treat yo’ self!” I thought of you. ;)

  26. says

    Great post! I think that IE is what I eventually found when I moved out of home and was in a happy place, years back. I went back and forward with an ED and all kinds of diets, weight loss and weight gain. It dominated my thoughts. Then I had other things on my mind- job, apartment, boys and suddenly I was just eating when I was hungry without thinking. I got to a weight I was totally ahppy with and able to maintain without thinking.
    Great post! And hilarious commentary!

    • says

      this: “Then I had other things on my mind- job, apartment, boys and suddenly I was just eating when I was hungry without thinking. I got to a weight I was totally ahppy with and able to maintain without thinking.”

      That’s basically the goal of IE, but sometimes it takes a process for people with ED to go through it (though I’ve been lucky previously like that and just got crazy busy). I think I’ve gotten too much time on my hands time and again and then get obsessive about losing weight and dieting, and all the stuff that I used to just do / eat falls apart. Now that I’ve read this book / practiced the program I know that what I do when I’m too busy to think about food and just feed myself is pretty much how I should do it (except actually focus on good, healthy food bc that definitely fell to the wayside in the past when i was too busy to think about food).

  27. says

    Wonderful!! I love you both! I think you both have great ideas on what a good “diet” looks like. We shouldn’t over complicate things. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to life so I have to be complicated. BUT I do love to eat intuitively.. just within my allergy boundaries. You girls are both so inspiring to me! xoxo

    • Laura says

      I don’t know how you do it! Been thinking of you a lot after our convo. You better keep me posted. And let me know how you like that protein!!! :)

  28. says

    we have followed specific diets for so many years and we think they just made us worse ;)
    now we just listen to our bodies, have fun with food (and drinks) and live life! we are not perfect and that is ok, we just do whats best for us and learn as we go.
    xoxo

    • Laura says

      You guys are such a great example of that – I look forward to reading your blogs and getting recipe inspiration. :)

  29. says

    Laura I have to admit that I agree with you in thinking that IE is really over analyzing and putting on a label of “eating”. I mentioned IE to my fiance and he said, well isn’t that just eating? I also agree with Calee in the sense of when you have an ED and disfigured body image, IE can mean a little more and does actually take learning.

    I almost fell into the IE trap, then I realized, wait, maybe I should just eat what I want, listen to my body, eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full. I no long over analyze or give food any more attention then it deserves. It really in all honesty doesn’t deserve much. But there are so many diets, not just IE that give way too much attention to food, but unfortunately that is our society and I don’t think that fad diets are going anywhere.

    • Laura says

      Completely agree with these diets… people get so caught up in “rules” they can’t or become scared to function outside of the parameters.

    • says

      I think there’s a misconception I didn’t clear up. I’m not following a diet and I’m not over analyzing my food. At the start of learning to eat intuitively there’s a lot of analyzing that needs to happen but once you relearn how to eat like a human, it’s just eating food when you’re hungry, which is what I’m currently doing.

  30. says

    @debbie I think there’s a misconception I didn’t clear up. I’m not following a diet and I’m not over analyzing my food. At the start of learning to eat intuitively there’s a lot of analyzing that needs to happen but once you relearn how to eat like a human, it’s just eating food when you’re hungry, which is what I’m currently doing. Except right now bc I’m stuck in the airport waiting to see if my flight will get moved back up.

      • says

        ah — thanks for pointing that out. i know that, but i was on my phone and couldn’t get it to reply to her comment so i meant to fix that when i got home and was responding to other comments.

        actually, in disqus you can (which is cool, but i hate logging into something just to comment).

  31. says

    I love the rules and again think “no shit.” But, as I’ve told you- just saying “okay, I’m going to practice intuitive eating now and I will eat a lot less.” My intuition tells me to EAT ALL THE THINGS. ALL. THE. TIME.
    For me, what works is NOT thinking about food so much. Finding other things in my life that keep me busy and happy- and the eating right thing just falls into place. It’s when I’m bored or really unhappy with other things in my life that I tend to over eat. Because for that moment, eating makes me feel happy. And then it makes me feel unhappy that I ate too much and feel like crap.
    I used to obsess about it way too much- always worrying that I’d be able to find a “healthy” meal if we went out and basing my whole schedule around being able to eat (sad but true). When I was able to let that go, it made all the difference in the world.
    And honestly now- what stands in my way of weight loss efforts is all this amazing Colorado beer (and food!) that I want to drink/eat every damn day!
    Love ya, Calee. :)

    • says

      This is basically where I’m at right now, but I had to work through the IE book to get there: “For me, what works is NOT thinking about food so much. Finding other things in my life that keep me busy and happy- and the eating right thing just falls into place. It’s when I’m bored or really unhappy with other things in my life that I tend to over eat. Because for that moment, eating makes me feel happy. And then it makes me feel unhappy that I ate too much and feel like crap.”

      I think the whole goal of IE is to not think about food so much. It sounds like it’s obsessing over it, but that’s just the process of re-learning how to eat and un-learning how to diet. If that makes sense? I think I may have to write a follow-up post on my blog about that. Because yeah, if you’re thinking about food all the time, you’re probably dieting.

      • Laura says

        Feeling like crap keeps nme in line. It’s like when you’re mid-20s and finally realize that drinking one too many costs you an eiture day… so you choose the lesser of the evils and check yourself.

        I would like to say… I think about a food a LOT… but it’s my creative process, which 100% isn’t a diet. LOL!

        • says

          revision: “worry about food so much”. :) Weirdly, I’m not so creative with food. It’s out of laziness and the fact that I live with a dude that is beyond creative with food (who btw I finally talked into doing his own posts, but he hasn’t b/c i’ve been too busy to photograph his crazy methodology).

  32. says

    Beautifully written, Calee! I 100% agree with you on everything you said. Especially when you talked about “deserving” certain foods on non workout days. I never understand why people tell themselves they can’t have something because they didn’t workout. For me it would turn into a lot of negative self talk that turned into a vicious cycle of eating for comfort instead of for fuel. I would mindlessly eat things that weren’t the best and get so uncomfortably full in turn getting more upset. I much happier now that I listen to my body and really take stock into what being satisfied feels like with foods I know will fuel me. And I treat myself on days I don’t workout and am totally ok with it!

    • says

      Oh man, Heather, you hit the nail on the head for me: “it would turn into a lot of negative self talk that turned into a vicious cycle of eating for comfort instead of for fuel”. That’s exactly where I was at. I once ate an entire pot roast after leg day. It was a small one, but seriously. ONE FREAKING POT ROAST.

      • Laura says

        Can I get an AMEN in here too?! Love that point, Heather.

        And Calee, I remember you telling me that story. I don’t think I could eat post roast ever again after that. But then again, I don’t like pot roast. ;)

  33. says

    I think you SHOULD write that book…but that it should be a “book” that’s all of a page long–just your “No Shit Diet” post. The rest can just be your awesome recipes ;D

    And Calee–GREAT post–I have to admit that I didn’t really know much (if anything) about IE, so interesting to hear your approach to it and how well it’s worked for you!

  34. says

    Loved this! Like seriously…I just read the post AND the comments and then read the post AGAIN! Calee, you broke it down perfectly and I have to say #11 is probably my favorite/one I think is most important. I went through a period of buying and eating all kinds of crap just because I “could” but in the end it made me feel just like that…CRAP! My problem is that my sleep-deprived zombie self wants ALL the crap, but I have to try really hard to remember to employ #8 because otherwise I will live off of boxes upon boxes of cereal.

    You girls know I’ve been doing this whole IE thing for a while now…and I wish I could say that I’ve got it all figured out, but the truth is that I still have a lot of things going on inside my fucked up head that are causing me to stumble. I wish I could say that this weekend was the perfect getaway…but unfortunately, I was stuck inside my head for a big part of it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED getting to see and spend time with all of you, but the girl who went to Blend 2012 was a hell of a lot more free and forgiving of herself than this girl was. I still struggle in situations where I don’t have a set routine and/or unlimited access to food and of course when you throw traveling in the mix, it’s bound to throw things off. Lately, I’ve been so consumed with guilt from overeating (like I did for the majority of the weekend) that I feel like I’ve lost control all over again. While I know it’s all part of the learning process and that there is obviously still some deep shit within me that is causing this sort of thinking, I have a hard time not feeling like I’m “failing”. I just need to slow down, refocus, and quit over-thinking (food) things. Honestly Laura, I could not envy you more.

    • Laura says

      I thought you were in a little funk! Or mad at me. LOL! I just look at it like this: you didn’t get in shape in 2-3 days, and you’re also not going to become obese over 2-3 days. When on vacation live it up, eat bread pudding. Have a big green (protein) smoothie when you get home and reset.

      Either way, I heart you and I’m so proud of all the work you’re doing! xoxox

      • says

        ditto on what laura said. i thought something was off. i’m just now catching up on the last couple of comments on this post. i so agree with you on employing #8 — I would live off boxes of cereal too (I used to!). they’re fortified, right?

  35. says

    Celee- you stole Laura’s asparagus…damn, you are brave and even have the bikini pics to prove it. I loved Laura’s No Shit post last week, and I feel the same about this one.
    Fortunately, I’ve never had an ED and for almost a full year now, I’m at a weight maintenance point (no loss and no gains), and I really love food. I legit look forward to each and every meal and am so excited to eat things which are delicious but also nutritious, along with a side of wine. Health and balance are the names of the game.

    • Laura says

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying these, Meghan! I legit look forward to meals too… especially the wine. ;)

    • says

      agreed — health and balance. thanks for the kind words.

      PS I didn’t think she wanted the asparagus after that whole week of #stinkypeeeats

  36. says

    I admit I had the same response when I first read your “No Shit Diet” — “umm…that’d be nice except it’s not that easy for everyone. Thanks.”

    I have an ED history, anxiety and body image issues so learning to eat intuitively and without rules is huge for me. Great post – and thanks for being willing to entertain the other side!

    • says

      Agreed — it *should* be that easy, but it’s not. I still catch myself over-indulging in some weird things, mostly high fat stuff, because of years of low-fat dieting. Like I had a spoonful of sour cream (by itself … gross!!) last night after I put a dollop on my enchiladas. I did, however, finally quit eating nut butters by the spoonful EVERY day. Now when I have a spoonful of a nut butter, that’s it. One spoonful. I hope that I can get there with the rest of high fat foods, but unfortunately I think it’s just going to be a matter of time before I truly truly truly realize that I am “allowed” to have high fat foods. Those were things that I was taught at a VERY young age NOT to eat (like age 7-8).

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