I keep coming back to the idea behind intuitive eating, and as I get further along my recovery/post-recovery journey, I wonder what on earth it actually means. I really like the theory: eat what you want when you want without much thought or guilt. But, I have found, for compulsive overeaters like myself, this was not helpful. Here’s why.

Eating an actual meal is good!
Eating an actual meal is good!

At first, I took ‘eating what you want, when you want’ too literally. It was an excuse for me to continue my behaviours, eating all the time and anything. I kept saying to myself that I felt like it so it was all okay. It was just another label for my overeating to manifest under. I just couldn’t hear my true hunger and fullness cues over my messed-up overeating brain.

I also went into meltdown trying to work out whether I was hungry or not, or full or emotional, the list goes on. I wanted desperately to get back in touch with my intuition without stressing 24/7 a la disordered thinking.

Breaking free

Now I can’t guarantee this will work for everyone, but it has worked to break the hold my food obsession had over me. It goes against much anti-diet disorder recovery, but if you are a compulsive overeater it is crucial. I had to adopt structured eating to get back in touch with my hunger, fullness, and really the rest of my life. By following a loose 3 meals and 3 snacks a day timetable, I was able to shift my attention off of food and onto my life.

I hear some of you going “Woah, hang on! Surely that’s like a diet!”. No, for me it was not.

It meant that when my brain went into binge mode, I could say “Calm down, a snack/meal is only two hours away, and you can eat whatever you want then.”

So in a way I was still eating what I wanted, but structuring it so I wouldn’t ‘forget’ that I had eaten, and therefore eat compulsively.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with eating intuitively in the traditional sense, but for me, intuitive eating is all about choosing to eat in a way that feels right for you. For me, eating with a regular structure helped heal my obsessive thinking and mindless eating.

I’ll post more on the details of how this works if you are interested.