Eat by time; not by hunger.

Intermittent Fasting Destroyed My Hunger Cues

When I began my intuitive eating journey, I really struggled with feeling my hunger. Because after 3+ years of Intermittent Fasting, I had destroyed my hunger cues.

Intermittent Fasting has become a socially-accepted way to not eat when you’re hungry. To instead define a certain period of time, known as an “eating window,” where you allow yourself to eat. Some people then allow themselves to eat whatever they want. But others pair it with carb cycling, keto, or another diet. The sad thing is I knew it would trigger my disordered eating, but I did it anyway. I followed the masses and let dreams of a skinnier waist overtake all my own reasonable knowledge about good health and balanced wellness.

Why I Began Intermittent Fasting

When I began intermittent fasting, I believed it was a strategy to help my metabolism, burn fat, and increase my energy. There was barely any science to support this belief (aside from one done on underfed mice…) but I was so influenced by huge online community raving about its benefits, that I didn’t care.

It was difficult to implement intermittent fasting into my day at first. I worked my way into a 16/8 approach where my eating window was only between 11:30 am – 7: 30 pm. I would drown my morning hunger in coffee and collagen peptides (50 calories or less so I didn’t activate my digestion! *eye roll*) I also engaged in fasted workouts. And sticking to a rigid carb cycle.

The End Result of Intermittent Fasting

For a long time, I sang the praises of intermittent fasting. It made mornings much easier when I didn’t have to worry about eating. I could travel for work and make it through meetings until 4pm before getting hungry. Why was everyone else famished by noon? How inconvenient! Life felt so much easier for me.

But when I finally came to terms with my eating disorder, I recognized that intermittent fasting was part of the problem. It had to go. It was not normal to eat this way. I shouldn’t allow external cues, like a clock, to overrule my internal cues.

The Hardest Part of Becoming an Intuitive Eater

The hardest part of becoming an intuitive eater was honoring my hunger Because I couldn’t feel my hunger. My stomach didn’t growl. My mouth didn’t salivate. And my mind couldn’t even fathom the thought of food in the morning. I honestly didn’t know what hunger was supposed to feel like.

In the beginning, I would sit down in front of a bowl of cereal and cautiously take a bite. I leaned in hard to “how do I feel?” while I swallowed. Then I would take another bite. Same thing. Many barely-eaten bowls ended up being poured down the drain.

Slowly and consistently, through a lot of trial and error, I re-awakened my feelings of hunger.

Now I choose my intuition over the clock.

Now when I honor my morning hunger cues and enjoy a delicious breakfast, I truly appreciate how far I’ve come in my recovery journey. It IS possible to get out of that pit of dieting. It IS possible to take back the reins of control and unshackle yourself from an industry that constantly tells you that you’re not good enough. You CAN cancel programs that insist you don’t know how to eat on your own so you should follow their rules of restriction.

The thing is, friend, YOU already have the God-given intuition to decide for yourself WHEN and WHAT you eat. Our bodies were created to be amazing! So why don’t we trust them? Diet culture.

Feeling Stuck?

Do you feel stuck in the murky middle of knowing diet culture isn’t serving you well—yet scared to try Intuitive Eating? Purchase a copy of Gain Wellness 35-Day Self-Paced Workbook. This course will help you shift your mindset and build the confidence you need to leave diet culture in the dust. Click here to learn more.

Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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