Important: How I Learned Intuitive Eating (After 20 Years of Dieting)

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Do any of these NON intuitive eating practices sound familiar?

  • Calorie counting
  • Avoiding carbs
  • Counting fat grams
  • Cutting out meat
  • Sticking to strict meal times
  • Following food lists
  • Feeling bloating, constipated, gassy

This was my life for 20 years.

MY BACKSTORY (Before I Found Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating - Woman Preparing A Healthy Meal

Dieting Days

For 20 years, I lived in bondage to obsessively thinking about food and everything I put into my mouth. From anorexia to orthorexia to ‘clean eating’ and being overly concerned about every single ingredient or worried something would make me bloated or constipated. 

Eating Disorder Treatment Days

On the other side of the coin, I spent 4 years of my life behind bars- living inside treatment centers where the typical prescription for eating disorders was:

  • Poptarts
  • Pizza
  • Prozac

Yes. Way.

Just like symptoms of obesity are often treated with what makes the most sense for weight loss—calorie restriction and exercise…even if their gut microbiome and hormones are the real reason why they can’t lose weight…My symptoms of dieting and restrictive eating were treated with what made the most sense for body love and food freedom— processed foods obviously.

There was the Pop-tart epiphany – the day 4 pop tarts showed up on my hospital tray and I was forced to eat every single last crumb.

There was Operation Twinkie—my 1st day of eating disorder treatment…Twinkie and Ding Dong snack challenge.

And there was Egg McMuffin Fridays—every Friday for almost a year I was forced to eat an egg McMuffin, followed by take out pizza the next day, and potato chips and ice cream the next. 

Repeat.

Nothing Helped!

Regardless of what food ended up on my plate—a dry salad with the dressing on the side, egg whites, rice cakes and bowls of broccoli…or ultra processed foods…the root cause behind my eating issues was still the same.

I WAS COMPLETELY DISCONNECTED WITH MY GUT, I had no idea how to: 

a.) properly nourish my body—especially with all the conflicting information, or 

b.) actually listen to my body.

Enter: Intuitive and Mindful Eating. 

In order to learn HOW to start eating intuitively and listening to my body, I started with these 3 things that maybe can help you too.

3 HACKS TO START INTUITIVE EATING TODAY

#1. EAT FOR YOUR GUT BUGS

Intuitive Eating -Healthy Balanced Diet

When I learned about the life-changing impact of a healthy gut microbiome on everything—my brain health, my digestion, my hormones, immunity, metabolism … it changed everything.

I began to see food as a vehicle for enhancing my total body health and learned more about intuitive eating.

Instead of eating and thinking – man is this going to go to my thighs?! Or carbs are bad because an Influencer says so… I began asking myself – what is a nourishing diet for a balanced gut microbiome?

That answer included:

  • Variety
  • Balance of proteins, healthy fats and fiber
  • Cooked vs. raw foods
  • Bone broths
  • And regular meals — eaten to the Goldilocks’ amount of fullness (just right)

#2. TRY THE GUT CHECK METHOD

Next up, after I realized how much that gut health matters in what we choose to eat…I invented the gut check method – a simple series of check in questions to help me decide what sounded good for me and my gut bugs, as well as to protect my recovery—instead of just defaulting to diet mode every time.

Before you eat ask yourself—check in with your gut bugs..

  1. How do I feel?
  2. Why do I feel this way?
  3. What do I need?

For example- just deciding what to eat for lunch

  1. How do I feel? — I feel like something light and crisp
  2. Why do I feel this way? — It’s hot outside 
  3. What do I need? — A refreshing chicken salad lettuce wrap w/ cranberries and pecans tossed in sounds really good

Or another example- It’s morning and I am kinda hungry —even though it’s 2 hours before my fasted 12-14 hour window.

  1. How do I feel? — I feel like I’m having a little blood sugar dip – 
  2. Why do I feel this way? — Well I did have a tough workout this morning 
  3. What do I need? —I think I am going to go ahead and make breakfast early – leftover chicken thighs and avocado sounds really good. 

#3. 80/20 BALANCE

Intuitive Eating - Woman Eating A Healthy Meal

Last and definitely not least, practice 80/20!

Translation: NO perfection.

If there is one thing I learned from my Operation Twinkie—the day after I ate that Twinkie, every single crumb it was…although it was uncomfortable, I woke up the next day and lived to tell about it!

My body knew what to do with it.

I actually have a little theory— I call it the food hygiene hypothesis. 

Just like if you are TOO clean in life – over sanitization leads to more sickness… if you are TOO clean in food, over cleanness can lead to more intolerances and sensitivities as well.

A great sign of good gut health, good hormones, peace and brain health is the ability to tolerate some imperfect foods and not feel wrecked!

Like the ability to go out to eat on a Saturday and order something not cooked in pristine oil, and be ok… Or to travel—and not feel like you have to pack all of your food.

You get the picture. 

INTUITIVE EATING IS POSSIBLE

I honestly never thought another way of eating or thinking could be possible. Until it NOW IS. 

As a Health Detective, my #1 goal is to help you become the best version possible of yourself. 

So here is your total permission to START TRUSTING YOUR GUT —instead of all the noise in the food, health & fitness world out there. 

DON’T GO IT ALONE

If you need support in your own health journey, reach out to me in my clinic and let’s help you take your body and mind health back into your own hands!

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