CW: for a few non explicit mentions of eating disorder history below.
So today we’re gonna talk Intuitive Eating and why as the title suggests it kind of sucks. First if you aren’t familiar here is a quickie overview. From an article this sums it up nicely:
Intuitive eating is a philosophy that encourages us to listen to our bodies for hunger and satisfaction cues — to eat when we’re hungry and to stop when we’re full.
For our purposes we’re not gonna argue any of the following because ain’t nobody got time for that ahem:
- IF U EAT WAT U WANT UR GONNA NEVER STOP EATING.
- OMG FATASS UR GONNA GET MORE FATASS
- OMG FATASS UR GONNA DIE….
We not doing that. If you try to comment with that bullshit I will see you out.
For our purposes here, we’re using Intuitive eating as shorthand for doing as the body wants.
OKAY let’s get into it.
I’ve been aware of Intuitive Eating and the associated principles for gosh, 10 years? More? I dunno. Previous to that, I hadn’t heard the term but understood the concept as a part of my life I aspired to make better. At the time, I was just too poor to really get into what I wanted to eat in any substantial way.
Fast forward to now and for the last few years I’ve been looking at how I feel about eating, what I want to eat, how I want to eat. I’m a habitual note taker and journal person, part of how I developed my self-care ideas heavily involved keeping tabs on myself and my body. One of the first things I stopped doing toward this end was I stopped assigning food and food intake moral value.
I have a background of eating disorders and disordered eating. From purging via an exercise addiction to anorexia to some other more murky EDNOS type things. Part of what fueled those EDs was my moral standing and assignments on what and how I ate. Looking back, when I was a vegetarian than vegan, I was deep into what is now called orthorexia.
So in theory, I really love Intuitive Eating. We know that I believe that food is medicine, I believe that food is a beautiful part of culture, of how we interact as a species and frankly I just love food.
My problem is this.
Like most other things related to wellness, there is a depth of privilege you need in order to fully engage. Access to food continues to be a problem in America. Food deserts exist. Beyond that, even when you have access to the food, we also have to look at the cost, how quick things spoil, if we have energy to prep and cook food, food intolerance and allergies, etc.
This is the problem I have with most wellness related things. Folks are so busy being aspirational and trying to secure the bag via being an influencer, we don’t get to have the important discussions about how these things actually function. This is how we get goop and frankly nobody wants it.
In terms of my experience, I have noticed that I tend to crave and want to eat a pretty balanced diet. I love my veggies. I love variety. I love color. I love flavor. I want to eat fish a few times a week and once a week or so red meat. White meat as needed. Where I’m experiencing difficulty is that due to the cost of the REST of my life (rent, staying alive etc) I cannot afford to eat the way I want in a sustainable fashion.
Let’s break it down a little bit also if you’re not really familiar with looking at intersectionality and how it functions in life, this is a great moment to get into it.
We’re gonna go list style.
- I deal with a lot of chronic pain and fatigue.
- I don’t have the budget weekly or monthly to continuously eat the way I’d like to.
- I don’t have the time to shop often due to #1.
Let’s look at #1. The way my body is set up currently, a lot of days I only have energy to get back and forth to work, do a little housework if I’m lucky. I hate it but that is what it is. Emotionally and spiritually I LOVE food prep. I love it. I find meal planning and food prep exciting and calming. However, as it also relates to #s 2 and 3, the combination of these things makes it hard for me to do.
You see that?
That is what we mean by intersectionality, nothing operates in a void and that is missing in wellness culture.
We have to think about how we talk to each other about these things. When people recommend recipes, ways of eating etc to me, especially people who know me personally, I feel terrible when I realize they haven’t or don’t think about what it would take to do. Or put it this way, what happens when you say OH this is the One Twoo way to Health and you don’t think about the person who has a 200$ budget for food for a month.
Or the person who is disabled and can’t stand around cutting up shit for meal prep. Or the person like me who loves intuitive eating, but who cannot engage fully.
Before I go I want to leave y’all with another few thoughts. Think about the ways we talk about things like intuitive eating. If you are all the way the fuck in for it, think about people who can’t be and don’t make moral judgements. Don’t contribute to other folks feeling bad because there are reasons they can’t.
So yeah, while following a very intuitive eating based methodology is my dream, I can’t and it kinda sucks.