Eating incompetence.

I am not, by any means, a perfect eater. Or even a competent one, every day.

I do tend to score high on the validated eating competence inventory, but I am far, far, faaaaar from perfect. In fact, I’m not sure perfection in eating even exists. Or that I’d want it to.

I’d like to consider this blog more than just a lot of blah-blah where I tell people what to do. As you know, I’m not super-big on anyone telling anyone else what to do. But when you put yourself out there with the big old n-word (“nutritionist”), there come a lot of expectations, and also the assumption that You Know What You Are Doing.

All I really know is that I have an idea of what makes eating work for me, and what research and clinical observation has shown to make eating work for lots of other people. But what that actually looks like in each person’s day-to-day life is different.

Frankly, eating well doesn’t happen for me every day. Hell, there are periods of weeks or even months where my eating looks pretty damn incompetent. When I went through a big old nasty depression and alternated forgetting to eat entirely with eating to the point of numbness; when I lived in a place where the kitchen was tiny and inhabited by roaches; when I didn’t have money to eat much other than oatmeal, bananas, tuna sandwiches, beans and rice.

What I’m trying to say is, though I teach this stuff for a living, I’m still working my way through it. And likely will be for the rest of my life.

I consider this blog a series of reminders to myself of the lessons I have learned about eating:

  • That we all have the right and the need to eat, no matter how much we weigh.
  • That we must give ourselves truly unconditional permission to eat whatever we want, in whatever amounts we want, in order to find out what food works for us in what amounts. (Even though that is scary as hell, I know.)
  • And that “discipline” should only ever enter eating when it comes to the nuts and bolts of self-care: buying groceries. Making food. Taking the time to eat it, and to settle in and notice that we are, indeed, eating it. And sitting with the uncomfortable feelings, maybe even the shame and guilt, that come along with doing those things in a world that tells you to avoid eating at every opportunity.

For the record, I think of eating competence not as an objective measure of what or how you eat, but as eating in a way that supports you both physically and emotionally.

For a lot of people, the formal description of eating competence (feeling good about food, eating food you enjoy in satisfying amounts, and doing the work to ensure you get fed regularly) is that way. And when I describe my own incompetence with eating, it has less to do with the objective behaviours than how it make me feel — tired or rundown, physically uncomfortable, taking little joy or comfort in eating.

It does not mean that I am a bad person eating in a bad way, or that it causes long-term harm (you might be shocked at some of the diets people manage to survive on, well into old age.)

What it does mean is that I’m eating in an unhappy way. And not that I’m obligated to do better, but that I do deserve better. We all do.

We also deserve to be trusted that we will do better, when we’re willing and able to.

Comments make the blog happy. Especially when they’re curious, full of fun and insight, and respectful of everyone else’s experience.

I’m not super-jazzed about unsolicited advice, unwarranted suspicion, or telling anyone how they should eat. Now go play!

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88 Comments

  1. Posted April 4, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Giving myself ‘permission’ to eat when I am hungry has been a huge struggle. I love having this blog to read when I need the reminder that fat-hate is based on utter myths about nutrition!

  2. Posted April 4, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I’m working really hard right not on eating competence and I’m finding it difficult, but getting easier. I just started keeping a food journal (just writing what I eat and how hungry I am, not how much or a calorie count or anything.) I resisted it because I thought it might be too diet-y and what if I got kicked out of the FA club??? But then I realized, dude, it’s my body. And I’m not feeling super great. I want to feel better and I need to figure out what I’m eating that’s making me feel sluggish and congested and gassy. It only took a week to realize it’s almost certainly dairy.

    • Posted April 4, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I just now read your post on that! Keeping a food journal would likely be very triggering for me, since my big weight loss attempt revolved (obsessively) around keeping a food journal. I kept one again, briefly, when I was working with a dietitian on intuitive eating, and it caused major weirdness and bingeing. But I reacted to the bingeing with greater mindfulness, so maybe that was her evil plan all along? I don’t know.

      I did 3-day food records of myself a few times for school and work projects, and those weren’t so bad (because they only lasted 3 days, probably.)

      I’d be willing to try it again if the need crops up (and if someone is having food-related symptoms that are hard to pin down, it is a very useful tool) but I think it would still be hard for me.

      Best of luck with your project! I hope you figure out what the culprit is. I would agree with you that dairy is a likely suspect, given the gassiness and whatnot. Oh dairy, why you gotta be so hard to love sometimes?

      • Kate
        Posted April 4, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        I had a period in time in where keeping a food diary, complete with calorie count was very helpful for me, not for dieting, just to get my head around what I was eating. That said, I had to work very hard to keep my head straight that it was just data and data is morally neutral.

        Keeping the diary helped me normalize my eating in that I figured out how best to break up my food during the day so that I’m comfortable physically and emotionally.

        *trigger warning, calorie talk*
        I did find that I eat about the same number of calories a day, even though the division of the calories was quite varied and I do like to know how many calories are in something before I eat it, but that feels no different to me than wanting to know who much something cost before I buy it.

        • Ashley
          Posted April 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

          Sometimes when I see kids who are having digestive issues (or issues I think could be related to food allergies, intolerance, etc.), I’ll tell thee parents to keep not only a food journal of what the kid eats, but also a poop journal of when the child goes to the bathroom and what it looks like. Reactions to this suggestion range from totally unfazed to completely grossed out. (Sorry if that was TMI.) Anyway, that story didn’t really have a point other than to say that, yes, a food journal can be useful at times, and this post has made me think about making sure I present the idea in a very neutral way if I do think it is warranted.

          • synj
            Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            when I worked at a fancy daycare, every kid still in diapers got a food intake and pee/poop chart so the parents could use them to see if anything was off. (and a little note on mood, anything interesting they did)

      • Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        It’s really serendipitous that I just found this thread on keeping a food diary. I was reading another (admittedly diet-focused) blog that was touting the wonders of keeping a diary and I started to feel really emotionally/psychologically uncomfortable. Then I came here and saw this discussion and realized that I was feeling massively triggered. And boy, I don’t like this feeling.

        I don’t think I could keep a food diary that wouldn’t freak me out. What Shaunta is doing is great for her, but even the act of just writing down the food (w/o calories or quantities) would make me massively uncomfortable. I guess I’m still not at the point where I can regard this information as morally neutral. It is. I just have trouble seeing it that way.

        Thanks for enabling me to see my own reactions more clearly.

      • Vanessa
        Posted May 4, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        Food journals cause me to flip out too.

      • Posted May 26, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

        I’m a little gratified to see I’m not the only one who flips out with food journals. There’s a surefire link for me: journalling – harsh self-criticism – bulimia relapse, but for the years and years that I was deluded into thinking ‘the D-word would work, this time if not all the times before, surely this time it will happen?’, I constantly went down that same track.

        I’m proud to say self-care now takes the place of obsessive self-scrutiny. My body and I communicate heaps better now we’re not bickering, b*tching at and keeping secrets from each other :)

        Thanks for re-defining eating competence in such great terms. This kind of competence is fundamental, beneficial and totally achievable IMO. Thanks also, as your blog as a whole is right up my alley with where I’m at in my self acceptance/HAES/healing journey.

  3. Posted April 4, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve never had a problem eating when I’m hungry. My problem is not overfilling myself. I tend to eat myself numb a LOT. It makes me feel terrible, and I don’t want to do it, but I keep doing it. I’ve *mostly* stopped taking on guilt about that. Now it’s just to figure out how to stop that.

    • E
      Posted April 5, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      I’m pretty certain I had binge eating disorder (or if not, just highly disordered eating), and I felt exactly like you do now. I have to say that just getting rid of the guilt helped A LOT. I can’t think of a single other thing that contributed so much to me not eating until I was sick as often. If I could eat a whole lot and not feel guilty about it, it just wasn’t as big of a deal and gradually stopped happening. I can’t say for sure that this is how it will happen for you, but if you can continue your efforts to lessen the guilt, and give yourself a lot of time, maybe you’ll get to a better place.

  4. Monica
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m also struggling to attain eating competence and it’s nice to have a reminder that I’m not alone. Also, I think that inventory is going to be really helpful to look at. Rock on!

    • Posted April 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      It is a really interesting test, and Table 1 in that paper shows the questions it uses.

  5. Posted April 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Michelle, this is neither curious, full of fun or great insight (though admittedly respectful). Just want to say ‘brilliantly stated” post, applicable to all! 26 years in the field and I truly could not have said it better myself. And that’s a big statement for me ; D

    • Posted April 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Aww, thank you — shameless flattery, is of course, always welcome!

  6. Erin
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I just wrote a really long comment that included a question (or eight) and when I went to re-read before submitting I saw the answer.

    Look at you, answering questions without even getting asked!

    Thanks for the fabulous post that helped me think!

  7. JupiterPluvius
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    This is a really timely discussion for me. I am currently trying to figure out what is going on with me vis-a-vis food allergies and sensitivities, so keeping a food log and doing challenges with certain foods. Which is hard for me, as someone who is in recovery both from a few years in active ED and about twenty-five years of mainstream dieting (i.e., institutionalized and commercialized ED in my book) surrounding that.

    I am trying to sit with the idea that if I choose to make changes in my food choices during and after this period of documenting and testing, it will be because I want to feel better, not because I want to fit into some box that somebody else designed for me. But.

    • JupiterPluvius
      Posted April 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      I should also say that this is with a doctor’s and nutritionist’s guidance, and based on test results. So it does feel evidence-based, which helps, up to a point–the thing is that the nutritionist is so unused to working with patients in a weight-neutral approach that I feel like a lot of burden is on me to maintain her professionalism vis-a-vis my boundaries.

  8. Jerome
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for another great post. IE is totally a process and it really never ends. I’ve been working on it for 15 fucking years (sigh) and still end up some days eating Fritos and Diet Coke for breakfast.

  9. Posted April 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Really amazing post.

  10. Julia
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    What’s been interesting to me is how my needs and tastes have evolved. Since I worked with you and discovered I have high protein and fat needs, I have continued to consume a metric fuckload of cheese on a regular basis (yum!), but I have been tending to ebb and flow a lot more: a few days of eating tons of fruit, for instance, then a few days of eating mostly refined carbs (along with the aforementioned load of cheese). And I never feel incompetent on days where I don’t eat any fruit or veg at all, which happens sometimes. I know it’ll probably be followed by a couple of days in which I eat lots of those things.

    And this is unrelated, but my almost lifelong “special food,” Cheetos, seem to have been replaced by Smartfood! :o

  11. z
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    [TW for weight-loss talk, ish]

    Sigh… I’m in a weird place right now where I really want to develop eating competence but can’t decide which of two contradictory directions to take:
    1) follow the recommendations of a dietitian I visited recently, specifically trying to eat conventionally healthy stuff and possibly also lose weight (in a much more morally neutral way than when I lost weight a couple years ago, and for specific personal reasons rather than because omg why am I so fat)
    2) eat intuitively and refuse to think about weight more than I am forced to by my mom and also my pants not fitting. (Except intuitively I eat a lot of sweets that, among other things, I can’t really afford, so less of that.)

    And having these two things pulling in opposite directions is really not conducive to any sort of competence. :/ I don’t know if I can find a balance between the two somehow…

    • chava
      Posted April 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      [calorie, journal talk]

      Yeah—-I’ve had to re-teach myself a lot of eating competence from the ground up. My meds surpress normal hunger cues, so keeping a reasonably detailed journal and counting calories sort of “re-trained” my hunger cues after a while. It did take some time for the feedback loop to kick in, though–and once I STOPPED keeping track, the effect only lasted while I stayed at a given level of activity. (I recently had to start up with it again)

      Sometime, I find that doing it “by the numbers” can be exhausting and frustrating. If I’m not losing weight, do I *need* to force myself to eat the extra whatever number of calories I’m “supposed” to eat? Blech.

      You do, however, increase your mindfulness tenfold (or at least I do). It was certainly funny to realize hi, you might be feeling a bit wan because look, you haven’t eaten meat in TWO WEEKS, chicky. Go buy a steak.

  12. concettameas
    Posted April 5, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I find the most difficult aspect for me is that food just fucking tastes so good!

    That and I have what I called the “Lower Middle Class Eating Syndrome” where if I leave a morsel of food on my plate, I immediately feel horribly guilty about how wasteful I am being, by letting that food get thrown away. I have no problem with leftovers but when it’s an amount that’s too small to keep but too big to eat (or pawn off on somebody else), I feel a sense of duty, almost, to shove that food down my gullet so it’s at least going somewhere that isn’t the garbage. We weren’t completely poor growing up but supplies were scarce enough so that a premium was placed on not being wasteful. I guess I just need to get over that. Or invest in a composter.

    • Posted April 5, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Bah, I know that feeling well. Just remember, you are not the garbage can. It is not your responsibility to clean plates — that’s what dishwashers are for.

    • KellyK
      Posted April 5, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      That’s a hard one for me too. I try to remind myself that food I’m not hungry for is food that’s wasted even *if* I eat it. It doesn’t taste as good as it should, it may make me feel icky, and it can mess up my satiety signals. (Years of “clean your plate” makes it hard to know when you are actually full.)

      Trying to be less wasteful in other ways helps me some too. Like, we helped with food for a friend’s memorial service and ended up with a bunch of toasted bread left over. I ate some of it, then I did a bread-crumb coating on pork chops, then I made stuffing. So, I was able to look at the half a bag of bread bits that were left and say “Yep, I’ve made every reasonable attempt to use these, and yet they’re still here. Oh, well, into the garbage they go.”

      And I think the composter is an awesome idea. Easier than raising pigs.

      • unscrambled
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        “I try to remind myself that food I’m not hungry for is food that’s wasted even *if* I eat it. ”

        That is a really awesome thing to remember. One that’s going to help me.

        Also: chickens are cheaper than pigs, and serve the same composting purpose. Wow do they eat everything.

        • concettameas
          Posted April 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          YES – Wow, what a great way to look at it! You guys have such great insight… thank you!

        • KellyK
          Posted April 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Cool. I know a couple people who are raising chickens, though I got the impression that it’s often more trouble than it’s worth.

          One of my cats would also dispose of unwanted food for me if I’d let him.

    • Jennifer
      Posted April 5, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      I keep buckets in the freezer for just such morsels. Savory ones go into the soup bucket and get made into soup once it’s full. Fruit goes into the crisp bucket to be made into crisp or smoothies or popsicles once it’s full. Saves money, saves those little bits of food that just rot in the fridge otherwise, and keeps the cooking interesting. The challenge for me is finding that right time to make soup. We’re a family of 3 and it’s frustrating to have our leftovers leave leftovers.

    • Posted April 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Jennifer,

      I’m the same way.

      I liked Michelle’s observation that you’re not obligated to clean your plate, but what really works for me personally is to save what I can’t eat, even if it’s an eensy teensy bit and I feel stupid doing it. Usually, I can cook with/add to it later.

    • Posted April 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      concettameas,

      For some reason, I called you “Jennifer”. Oops! I meant you.

      • concettameas
        Posted April 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        All good! I’ve been called worse :)

    • Sim
      Posted April 5, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Dog’s are handy for that too :) Although I still suffer from the don’t waste the food thing, especially when my kids eat half a bowl of something, because they know when and how to stop!

      • hwar
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I feel the same way. My food issues come out when my daughter doesn’t eat all her food (i.e. the amount I think she SHOULD eat, or the amount she asked for, or the amount I gave her as a “healthy portion” or some other arbitrary nonsense). My eating competency work is all about honoring her natural ability to self-regulate, and helping her identify when her eating choices are impacting how she feels. It has taught me a lot about my own relationship with food. I totally have the above-mentioned Lower Class Eating Syndrome where I think I need to eat all that is served to me (or that I serve myself). I’m trying hard not to pass that particular attitude along.

    • synj
      Posted April 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      hee. I understand that feeling– I’m totally not hungry but it is just one little bite. (and if I end up eating that little bite i usually regret it in the form of uncomfortable tummy or reflux)
      I ended up buying tiny tupperwares about the size of two bites (the glad mini-round). to put things in (i’ll even wrap up leftovers at the restuarant if it was especially yummy).
      Turns out, there’s times in between major hungry that I want just a little nom (or perhaps a couple bites to take my migraine meds with so I don’t yak). And, I have no problem cleaning out the fridge when the containers grow mold.

  13. Posted April 5, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    This really resonated with me: “I think of eating competence not as an objective measure of what or how you eat, but as eating in a way that supports you both physically and emotionally. ” I’ve been working on striking that balance for a long time (and imagine I will continue to!). It’s surprisingly challenging but also rewarding to think about food as something that can support you.

  14. Posted April 5, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Competent eating for me means honoring the fact that I have IBS and severe lactose intolerance, and I can’t always eat whatever I want. Sometimes, I’m great at it. When my office throws another pizza party, though, I get sort of pouty and angry. I want pizza. It smells amazing, and I know it tastes good, even though I haven’t had it in years. And because I can’t have it, right then and there, some times I make unwise food decisions later in the day, to compensate. I’m working most on not beating myself up for my lapses in judgement, but it’s hard when I know I can control the attacks and digestive issues if I pay attention to my gut rather than the bratty child in my head who’s upset that everyone else can have pizza.

    I’m going back to my RNP to discuss the current lack of control I have over IBS, though, and think both nutrition guidance and stress management are in order. It took me more than 20 years to get the IBS diagnosis instead of being told it was psychosomatic. I would be so sick that I was losing weight — I couldn’t eat anything — and would be complimented on the weight loss. Because it’s healthy, right, when everything makes you sick?

    For me right now, competent eating means admitting that I need help in getting back there.

  15. Posted April 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I have chickens which are a pretty good substitute for pigs. But I still find it hard not to overeat just because it’s so good… I realised that I didn’t know how to know how much to eat – so many years of dieting and diet book reading and soaking up the low level anti-fat rays left me with a totally scrambled low fat/high protein/wholegrain/low carb/cabbage soup idea of what I was supposed to eat. After a while I even felt like I shouldn’t eat anything at all.

    It’s been an interesting experiment to just stop before over eating, just for a minute, to sit with the feeling of not eating for a moment, before ploughing on into my fifth Dairy Milk bar. It’s been interesting to try to listen to something else outside of my habits and frazzled, diet-addled brain, something a bit more real. Maybe that’s a step towards eating in a happy way.

    • Posted April 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Mmmm, Dairy Milk. I have one of those in my hand right now!

  16. Alexie
    Posted April 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Learning to say ‘ no thank you’ is my biggest hurdle. I’m recovering from cancer and can’t always eat very much any more. It come and goes. Sometimes I can eat a normal amount. Sometimes I’m ravenous and start eating, only to find that I’m just not going to make it through the food. And this is after years of working with food and completely immersing myself in it.

    Well right now I’m in a rehabilitation hospital and my food intake is monitored. When they come to take the plate away and there’s still lots of food on it, they ask me about it and I get dirty looks about how much food is being thrown away. Once I would have given in to the pressure and just eaten it, and lived with the uncomfortable feeling, but reading all these wonderful FA blogs has given me the confidence to be “no, it’s my body, I’ll decide what goes into it”.

  17. Posted April 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I feel like my biggest issue with trying to be a competent eater is to stop eating when I’m full and to not use food to cope with life. I find myself turning to food when I don’t have anything to do or when I don’t want to do the things I DO need to do! Which just makes it harder to feel my hunger and my fullness. It’s really hard, but it’s SO MUCH BETTER than dieting!

  18. Posted April 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t really grow up with the “clean plate club” but I still feel guilty about wasting bits of leftover food. Parents who grew up in the Depression, I think.

    However, I do have a compost pile and I do find that it alleviates a lot of that. The same goes for the veggies or fruits that go bad before I get to them. Part of intuitive eating for me is honoring what I feel like eating (or not eating) on a particular day, not just eating it because it’s about to go bad or whatever. If I don’t feel like chard on a certain day, then darn it, I’m not going to eat it! But I feel WAY better if I can compost it. At least it’s going to good use then, and will return some goodness to my garden for future vegetables. :-)

    I find my eating competence challenged at times by the knowledge that I have PCOS and strong insulin resistance and need to be cognizant about carb intake. So much info in that field is triggering (count everything, worry about calories, worry about carbs, lose weight lose weight lose weight) that it’s a fine line to walk in terms of self-care…..being careful of things you know you need to be careful of without getting swept into a rebellious mentality. Generally I do pretty well but that lifetime of dieting talk in my head doesn’t make it easier.

    That’d be something interesting for you to write about sometime.

    • Posted April 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Oh my gosh, you are SO right about the whole carb intake issue. I have diabetes throughout my family, including my mother, and my tests show I am on my way down that road, too. And yet having been put on diets throughout my life wherein I was forbidden to have “treats” (i.e. anything sugary) I still have a strong desire for those sugary goodies and baked goods and whatnot that were made into these glistening icons of badness just out of reach. I would actually sneak chocolate chips from my mom’s baking supply… and one of my most embarrassing moments was getting caught at it one afternoon. What if chocolate hadn’t been forbidden fruit? Maybe I could do better at having two bites and then stopping before I get a sugar-high headache now, if it hadn’t been forbidden and bad all those years…. I want to re-normalize these foods and teach myself I can have them when I want them, so I don’t go crazy when they cross my path… but that desire is at odds with the self-care work I’m trying to do, trying to make some changes to lessen my risk for developing diabetes – since it is very prominent in my family and right now I do eat a LOT of sugary things… argh. So hard – now I’m ashamed in the FA community to admit I’m ashamed of eating so much sugar, to admit I’m trying to change it, cause it feels so much like dieting… talk about a rock and a hard place!

      • Teri
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 3:39 am | Permalink

        I know exactly what you mean. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I went into a tailspin. I had worked so hard to make food morally neutral and stop beating myself up over how much I weigh, then there’s a whole new set of restrictions and rules and a new ways to be “bad” and “good.”

        I still struggle with it of course. Luckily I’m not fond of sweets, but other carbs are high on my list of favorites. I have no particular insight here other than it’s critical to find a doctor who doesn’t automatically equate weight loss with glucose control. And even though I have a great doctor and we’ve moved my A1C from 13 to 6.5 with no weight loss at all, I still have to remind her from time to time that a tick up in my glucose does not mean I’ve been “bad.”

    • Posted April 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      I have PCOS too and the carb thing really can be frustrating. A lot of mine has been quite intuitive – my HAES-friendly nutritionist has never given me firm numbers on carb intake but has instead focused a lot on what makes my body feel good. It’s really lovely to trust that, too. When I go from craving waffles with fruit and whipped cream because those were GLITTER FOODS when I was little, to knowing that my body wants something with lots of protein but something sweet on the side, so opting for a veggie omelet, a side of patty sausage, and a seeded toast with DELICIOUS homemade jam , that’s really something. Not feeling groggy after a morning meal that perfectly satisfies all my cravings is a wonderful.

      Come to think of it, I need to do some self-care on this at work. I’m making breakfast burritos to freeze and bring in anyway but clearly I should bring in some seeded/low-GI bread and jam to have with the burrito. Ah ha!

      Honoring what our body wants can eventually come in line with honoring what our minds and feelings want. It’s just so freaking SLOW, at least for me! I’ve been relearning IE for eight years now and sometimes I just want to BE THERE ALREADY, DAMMIT!

  19. Toni
    Posted April 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I just recently came off the diet hamster wheel and am still in the beginning stages of learning about intuitive eating…(though I have experienced it 2 or 3 times in my life..especially when pregnant ) and never thought of eating in terms of competence or incompetence. Just good vs bad…or healthy vs unhealthy (I know, it’s not a moral thing, but I’m still a newbie!!) So thank you for this post..

  20. Posted April 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I love, love, love this post. You and Fat Waitress and Live Once, Juicy and Not Blue At All… sheesh, you all wrote such wonderful posts today I’m a little weepy.

    Thanks for the oh so wonderful work you do!!

  21. Posted April 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I am not a perfect eater either. I eat way too many sweets and fatty foods and it drains my energy big time.

    • ako
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 4:09 am | Permalink

      I went through a stretch where I was practically living on sweet and fatty foods and not getting enough fruits, vegetables, and fiber to keep me feeling reasonably healthy.

      I found that feeling more in control over what I ate led to less sweets and more fruits and vegetables and high-fiber foods. Feeling guilty or ashamed or like I wasn’t supposed to have any chocolate tended to lead to eating larger quantities, and the chronic guilt-nudging of “Come on, you have to eat vegetables!” made them an unpleasant chore. (Plus, I was always a picky eater, and it was easier to fill up on sweet foods than try something new with vegetables and put up with everyone’s “She doesn’t like that? She doesn’t like anything! She’s so difficult!” reactions.)

      Getting rid of a lot of the external pressure, and being more “I am a grown-up in charge of my own food, and I am allowed chocolate and cheese and other sweet and fatty things that are delicious” helped a lot. It makes it much easier to focus on things like “Okay, not getting any fruits or vegetables is starting to make me feel run down” and “If I don’t want to crash this afternoon, I should have protein and not just candy.” (That and experimenting. It turns out that there are a lot of fruits and vegetables I like when prepared a certain way, and a small number that I just persistently don’t like, which I don’t have to eat, and I love nearly everything whole-grain, I just don’t like the bread my mom buys that results in giant chunks of seeds in my morning toast.)

  22. duckybelkins
    Posted April 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    It makes me really happy to hear that you have problems with this too. Not in a “Haha you are suffering mwhahaha!” sort of way but in a “I’m so happy that I’m not alone and if a nutritionist isn’t perfect then maybe I should stop beating myself up for not being perfect also.” sort of way.

  23. Vitamin Kay
    Posted April 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this – This post is the “little push” I need. I am in the midst of being the healthiest eater I have ever been in my entire life. I finally do not feel owned by food or my eating habits! But yet I still feel such shame of how my body has changed as my eating habits have become healthier. My body is feeling and looking different, more stretch marks are popping up… I am feeling the internal as well as external pressure to do whatever it takes to lose the weight and look more conventionally pleasing. It is interesting how that works. It is almost like I can only be healthy and happy as long as I look pleasing to society.

    This post is definitely perfect timing for me…

  24. ako
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve not been having my most eating-competent day (I’m tired, and all I want today is protein-food that I don’t have to cook), and it’s good to remember that even people who are fairly on top of things have variations and fluctuations and off days.

    It’s easy to turn “Take care of yourself” into just another thing to fail at. There’s this weird thing where non-perfectionist “I will have off days, and I don’t need to beat myself up for it” effort is seen as a slippery slope to failure, which leads to a lot of “I didn’t exercise or eat vegetables today! I’m DOOMED!” thinking, which adds stress and despair and makes the whole thing a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because after all, if skipping one meal means you’ve already failed at competent eating, why keep trying? (The same as the diet mentality – eating a bowl of ice cream is considered failure, and someone who’s feeling stressed and guilty and has spent however many days chronically hungry is likely to react to ‘failure’ by eating large quantities of calorie-dense food. It’s amazing how diet mentality can creep into practically any approach to eating.)

    It’s good to remember things don’t work like that.

  25. Nicole
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi! Thank you for having this blog, you’re a rockstar. I’m tired of women’s relationships with food having to be about whether or not that food is going to make her look fat. I’ve fought it my whole life and still do, but with a little more ease now that I’ve realized all the BS we’ve been fed our whole lives.

    My question is your opinion of Weston A. Price principles? Which is, basically, that we should be avoiding all vegetable oils except olive oil and instead using animal butters or coconut oil for a variety of reasons. I can’t find anyone familiar with WAP and would love the opinion of a nutritionist?

    Thanks and keep up the great work! :)

  26. Posted April 7, 2011 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Michelle,
    I wonder if you have any related thoughts on exercise competence, or maybe “moving competence”. I’m finding that my relationship to food is only mildly problematic, as compared to my relationship to exercise – which is dire.

    So now I’m reading all this HAES stuff and I’m beating myself up about not exercising enough! Argh.

  27. Camilla
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I have a body shape and metabolism that’s the envy of everybody around me, and have never in my life dieted. (I somehow missed the body image worries by being late to reach puberty… I wanted to grow breasts and hips and look like a woman, while my peers were starting to diet.) And, I regularly engage in a whole bunch of behaviors that fatness is usually blamed on. I totally turn to sweets to manage emotional upsets; ice cream directly from the carton, or I bake something decadent, and eat a big portion before breakfast the next morning, as well. I finish my kids leftovers, and always clean my plate, often when I’m not hungry.
    (I think I am pretty good at eating something when I am hungry, and I do enjoy lots of healthy foods, so it isn’t all ice cream binges all the time, for me.)

    I strongly suspect from this, that many of the ‘excess’ behaviors are much more benign than people give them credit for.

    • JupiterPluvius
      Posted April 9, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      The conclusion I would draw from your experience is that everyone’s body is different, and everyone metabolizes different foods differently! Which, yeah, is something people in the health field really need to pay more attention to.

  28. Robyn
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Michelle, could you elaborate on this, “What it does mean is that I’m eating in an unhappy way. ” ? I’m confused as to what this exactly means. Eating in a way that makes me emotionally unhappy? That the physical act is unhappy? What does it mean to “do better” in this regard? To eat in a way that makes me “happy”? Makes me feel good? Thanks!

  29. Posted April 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    @duckybelkins: For a look at more RD imperfection, do check out some posts here: http://www.dropitandeat.blogspot.com
    @Teri: I address this exact issue in my latest post. Print it and show it to your doctors!!
    @Cath at Canberra First, think movement, think enjoyable activities, and set ridiculously small goals, like walk to the mailbox and back or stop in to visit the gym, but don’t join, just observe. Or wear a pedometer and see what your baseline is and set a small goal increase as a goal. Baby steps.

  30. Posted April 8, 2011 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    I am always baffled at the reactions I get when I mention that everyone has the right to eat, yes, even fat people. You would think I’m making a really outlandish statement, judging by the looks I get.

  31. LadyTL
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I seem to have this thing of when I alone control what food I get to have, I eat very mindfully for my health. When I am limited though by other circumstances suddenly, my healthy eating goes way down. Most of this was because for a few years I got to eat what I wanted when I wanted and things mostly fell into balance because I got over alot of food related issues. I still have a problem with hoarding food though because I might want to eat it at some point, stuff like chocolate, chips or ice cream.

  32. Liz
    Posted April 9, 2011 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    My big problem, when it comes to eating, is that I can never seem to really realise that there will always be food. So I sometimes (less than I used to, but
    I still do it) eat to the point where I feel sick or even throw up, on the grounds that if I don’t eat it now, the food won’t be there. It’s something I’ve seen with the homeless people I work with, but I always feel a bit ashamed, on the grounds that I have less of an “excuse” than they do.

    My eating never seems to change my weight, but I feel more alert and happier when I eat healthily and . My SO has been a huge help – she will buy huge volumes of junk food and make sure I can see it all. So if I’m eating X, and I start to feel unwell, I can look at all the food, and realise that if I put it away or throw it out, I’ll still be able to have it whenever I want. I’m actually eating far less of it than I used to.

    • Posted April 10, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      You’d be surprised to hear how common this is. And it doesn’t always have to do with ACTUAL food insecurity, but it can result from even a past history of it, or from what I think of as “induced” food insecurity caused by either current dieting/restriction, past dieting/restriction, or even the barest possibility in the back of your mind that you may, at some point in the future, go back to dieting/restriction.

      These things trigger very strong SURVIVAL MECHANISMS designed to keep us alive. The threat of Not Having Enough Food is one of the scariest things a living body can experience, right on par with Not Having Enough Oxygen and Being In A High-Up Place Where I Might Fall. These things are scary because they are direct threats to survival. And even though the fear sometimes occurs in situations where it’s contextually irrational, it is not, at root, an irrational fear. At all. It is a very, very important fear about a very, very important issue.

      Keeping stocks of food around is one way to help. Eating at regular times, and GUARANTEEING yourself that those times happen — even if that means carrying granola or trail mix on your person for inconvenient times — is another way of helping. And giving yourself that unconditional permission throughout your eating, and reminding yourself that there IS more, and you CAN have it if you want it — that you can have seconds, thirds, fourths, whatever — is another good way. Put those things together with a big dose of patience and time, and you’ve got a good chance the fear will subside.

      • Gen
        Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for illuminating the survival mechanism, I hadn’t thought about the seriousness of it. It’s something I am going to think further on.

        I like the idea of keeping stocks of food around, but it’s extremely difficult for me, but it’s even worse as I live in shared accommodation and I have to see other people’s food in the kitchen that I know I can’t touch.

        I have PTSD, dysthymia (low mood), major depression and adrenal fatigue. I resigned from my former job in order to undertake treatment. Unfortunately, this results in a very low income and whilst I have most of my basic needs met, food is the exception. Much of the time I can’t afford the food I like, spinach, cheese or even a piece of meat for example. I have often found myself surviving on processed bran with cream for breakfast (actually I like it hehe) and brown rice any other time I’m hungry. Sometimes I can afford a bit of chocolate. Along with this, I need extended periods of sleep due to fatigue, so it’s often too difficult to walk to the shop (no car), let alone get up for a glass of water.

        I spoke with my psychologist about this, and she gave me the idea of using a vegie delivery service. This begins next week, at about $30/box containing fruit and vegie staples plus a few extras, this box should last me about two weeks. Here in Perth, Australia, it’s significantly cheaper than buying from the supermarket, as the guy who prepares these boxes buys directly from the market. I’m really hopeful and this may be an idea for others wanting a cheaper source of food.

        A threat to survival IS quite scary. My (Australian) grandfather was a prisoner of war for a very long period of time, captured by the Japanese in Singapore at the time of WWII and forced into labour building the railway. He received a bowl of white rice on most days, but sometimes nothing. The Burmese people risked their lives secretly giving the prisoners chillies to provide them a little vitamin C. When my grandfather returned he was extremely ill with malaria, but most disturbingly his body was covered in oedema. He took an extremely long time to recover. My mother told me the first thing he wanted to do when he got home was taste salt.

        • KellyK
          Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

          Ouch. It sucks that chronic illnesses are such a double whammy–less energy to do things and at the same time less money for the easier alternatives. I hope the veggie delivery works out well for you.

      • Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        I have food insecurity. I’ve come to the conclusion I’d rather have cupboards and freezers full of food rather than eat it. I know this is irrational. It stems in part from a time in my life where there was no money left over for food (pre food bank days and I probably wouldn’t have qualified anyways) as my priorities for spending were placed elsewhere.

  33. Posted April 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Michelle,

    I love the post, especially these two points:

    # That we all have the right and the need to eat, no matter how much we weigh.

    # That we must give ourselves truly unconditional permission to eat whatever we want, in whatever amounts we want, in order to find out what food works for us in what amounts. (Even though that is scary as hell, I know.)

    And this comment discussion is so lovely and engaged. You all just gave me warm fuzzies with your positive energy and respectful connection!

    • Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Aww, thank you! I love my commenters. They are top-rate.

  34. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I really like the concept of competent eating. I find when I deny myself I just want to eat more, so allowing myself to eat when I’m hungry really makes sense.

    • Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Your observation is spot-on. It’s been confirmed by research on restrained eating, too. So you’re definitely not the only one!

  35. Von
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I need to learn all of these good things. I’m stuck, and need help.

  36. Lampdevil
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m stumbling into the thread super-late, but it all only seems illuminating and applicable to me now. My last two weeks have been a daze of “bad” eating decisions on my part. I haven’t been cooking supper, I’ve been eating bigger meals, bigger portions, eating out, being on vacation and not eating regularly… that’s my big thing, eating regularly, and honoring my hunger and demanding food when I ought to…

    Fweh. I’ve been rushed and stressed and unwell due to not-related-to-food reasons. My eating habits have gotten unmindful as a result. I think I just need to trust that it’ll pass, and that perhaps my hunger and my body know that I need a little extra fuel right now.

  37. SB
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Excellent post as usual, Michelle.

    If anybody else was curious about the photo, I did a bit of searching and found that it comes from a 1952 Pageant article on Marilyn Monroe titled “How I Stay in Shape.” (It even has a two-page spread of Monroe enjoying her favorite breakfast of warmed milk and raw eggs!) You can find the article and photos at Glamournet.com.

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t that whole article hilarious?

      • Posted April 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        I had to quote Marilyn for truth here: “I couldn’t stand exercise if I had to feel regimented about it.”

  38. Posted April 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I know this post is old, but I just wanted to quickly share the story (which I had forgotten about or blocked out until just now) about the first time I went to a nutritionist. I’ll be honest, my main goal at the time was weight loss. We sat in her office and she gave me the portion sizes lecture with all the rubber food examples and then she set me up on the dietary exchange program (which I understand is used most often for diabetics. For the record, I am not a diabetic). She sent me on my merry way with a food diary into which I was to record everything I ate for the week and bring back for our next session. Which I did, dutifully. During that week, I had used one and a half of my carbohydrate exchanges to get something sweet (a truly awful pre-packaged rice krispy treat that had the number of exchanges marked clearly on the label). But I didn’t sneak it, I recorded it in my food diary like a good girl. The next session with the nutritionist rolls around and I was feeling pretty good about my food diary because I’d written EVERYTHING down AND I stayed within the allotted number of exchanges every day. What does she do? She zeros in on the ONE day I had gotten something which could be considered a “treat” and grilled me about why I had that instead of say, a piece of toast (dry) or some steamed rice or something “healthy”. (I was actually running around doing errands that day and was not at home to make food. I purchased the “treat” at the convenience store.)

    Lesson: You’re not allowed to ever have anything sweet fatty, even if you are following your plan.

    I never went back to her.

    I <3 you Michelle! Keep up the good work.

    • Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Wow, what a terrible experience! Also, part of my job assisting dietitians use to involve washing those little rubber food models. FUN FUN FUN!

      And this sort of thing is the reason why Critical Dietetics exists, I think. And why Ellyn Satter exists. What a ridiculous way to act around food! No one should be expected to live their entire life without Rice Krispies treats. Or any kind of treats.

  39. TheSasquatch
    Posted May 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Reading your blog – and this post in particular – has taught me something valuable: I am not an incompetent eater.

    I’ve been told my whole life by my parents that if left to my own devices, I would only eat candy and white bread (which has never been true). I’ve been mocked for it, scolded for it, berated for it – just last week my mother told me point blank, no ifs ands or buts, that I wasn’t eating healthily, and all I could do was stare at her for several seconds, then stutter “Mom, I am 24, I live by myself … I buy and cook my own food, and you’re never there to see it. You have NO idea how I eat!”

    She told me that she based in on the fact that she had seen me take a frozen pizza out of the freezer the night before. I asked her if she also remembered that I changed my mind and put the pizza back into the freezer to eat a piece of bread in stead, and she said yes. She said that even so, she was scared for me, and that it was not different from telling my brother not to smoke.

    Yup. She said that. Because I touched a frozen pizza.

    I later, calmly as I could, told her never to comment on anything I eat ever again, because it confuses me, messes with my intuitive eating, upsets and hurts me and makes me completely lose my perspective on food.

    I’m a damn competent eater! And you have helped me realize that. I always eat sit-down meals – several a day – I eat when I’m hungry, I can’t stand not having variety in my diet and I haven’t restricted, counted calories or cut food groups at all since I got over my restrictive ED a few years back.

    Even in the darkest depths of my severe depression I ate breakfast, lunch, dinner and my nighttime TV-snacks. My body isn’t fooled by low-cal substitutions, and it is really, really good at telling me what it needs.

    Sometimes what it needs is to eat only white bread with butter for all four meals and drink only water in a day.

    Sometimes it’s fruits and veggies and juice and whole grains and meat and fish and pasta and rice and cereal and bread and chocolate and cake and popcorn all in a day, and then some more of that meat and bread just before I go to bed, with a big glass of milk.

    I function well and feel better if I eat mainly carbs during the morning and afternoon and mainly proteins and fat at night.

    If I’m having trouble sleeping, getting up and eating something carby and fatty will help me fall asleep and sleep soundly.

    I can digest wheat and dairy with no problems and much well-being, and I can maintain a steady blood sugar level on refined carbs and processed sugars like nobody’s business.

    However, if my body needs food and I wait 5 minutes too long to give it, it throws a hypoglycemic tantrum that knocks me off my feet – literally. This goes whether my last meal was a can of Coke or a plate of whole grain pasta with skinless chicken. My body does NOT like to be kept waiting for food.

    The fact that I know these things, you have made me realize, makes me a pretty competent eater! Many people struggle with much more basic insights and strategies than these, and I wanted to truly thank you for making me realize just how far I’ve come since my ED days, and for making me worry a lot less about my eating, since it seems to be in pretty good shape overall…

    Thank you :)

    • KellyK
      Posted May 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Wow. Because *touching* a pizza totally causes emphysema and lung cancer.

      Heck, even if it did, various members of my family have been nagging my mom to quit smoking for as long as I can remember. I’m sure you can guess how well that’s worked.

      • DottyGirl
        Posted May 15, 2011 at 3:06 am | Permalink

        What’s wrong with pizza anyway? It’s just bread, cheese, veggies and sometimes meat. Sound like staples to me. I don’t get the hysteria about cheese. Lots of protein, cheap, satisfying, calcium and all that. I feel grateful I’ve never been taught to feel guilty about eating cheese.

        • KellyK
          Posted May 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          Not feeling guilty about eating cheese is awesome, because cheese is a wonderful thing.

          • ako
            Posted May 21, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink

            Not too long ago, I made a pizza-ish thing where I took a sheet of crispbread, added a layer of tomato, garlic, and basil, then put on some mozzarella cheese, topped it with sliced onions, mushrooms, and chilis, and cooked it all up in the oven until the cheese went beautifully brown and bubbly. At first, I thought of it as a decadent and unhealthy indulgence, but then I took a moment and went “Wait, cheese isn’t nutrient sucking poison that invalidates everything else on here! What I have is whole grain rye bread, lots and lots of vegetables, and delicious added protein, calcium, B-12 (important for vegetarians like me), and nutritionally necessary fat!”

            As it turns out, that tastes even better without the guilt.

            (It’s weird separating out the irrational guilt when it comes to food. Someone on here mentioned whole-grain pasta as one of the ‘good’ foods they don’t enjoy very much and have to guilt themselves into eating. For me, it’s always been on the slightly-naughty list. That’s partly because I drizzle the oil on without measuring out careful little spoonfuls, and partly because I like it so much.)

    • Posted May 4, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      I later, calmly as I could, told her never to comment on anything I eat ever again, because it confuses me, messes with my intuitive eating, upsets and hurts me and makes me completely lose my perspective on food.

      I am so glad you did that. Even if she does comment again in the future, just keep repeating the same thing, calmly and firmly: she’s not to comment on your eating. It’s not an open topic of discussion.

      You are a great eater :)

  40. Inca
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I would like to thank you for your very sensible approach and empowering articles. I came here from a different background. My weight has never been my issue, I don’t have body image problems, nor have I ever dieted or feel the need to. But I have been ill. The specifics haven’t been found out yet (oh wonders of the medical world.)

    Anyway, your posts helped me to keep myself straight. By mentioning that doing things you need to do for your mental health are choices as well. It kept me sane when I took a step back from the frustration of medical consults that only served to blame me and eat up huge amounts of energy. I realized I had the choice, and that preserving myself is important.

    It also kept me sane and eating when I came across infinite possible food causes in relation to (un)health. Of course cafeine and alcohol. Gluten, diary, sugar are mentioned many times. Several types of vegetables are suspect with thyroid issues, others shouldn’t be eaten too much because of nitrate. Chicken has been in the media because it contains traces of antibiotics and / or strains of resistant bacteria. No fish because the poisons (mercury and stuff). Which mostly left fruit, I think, but my body took care of that: I’ve been mildly allergic to fresh fruit for ages. And I also had no energy to go on extensive shopping trips or grow my own organic cow or something.

    Then I took prednisone and that totally messed up my taste. That is really horrible! It has been very invasive (is that the word?), pulling your base away from right under you. You can’t trust your body anymore. Being alone, I also had no guidance to wether the food was contaminated or gone bad. That’s really scary. So at times I couldn’t eat anything without feeling wrong about it, not for caloric issues but because it tasted bad and had messages of impending doom all over it.

    Reading your blog helped me realize that I didn’t have to increase my problems by adding a food issue to it. So I just basically tried to eat what was acceptable to me, wether it was named as chemical, sugarry, unhealthy or whatever. I weighed my choices based on what I felt like eating and what I could get and prepare. If biscuit and water was all it was… so be it. I got a multivitamin supplement so effects of unbalanced meals wouldn’t lead to huge deficiencies immediately, and other than that, I just waited it out. Some things still aren’t back to normal, (soda and bread have not returned to their well established pattern of years) but most taste issues have resolved itself. And overall, the sensible style helped to put things into perspective. So, thank you.

    • Posted May 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Wow, that’s amazing. Thank you so much, and you are very, very welcome. Eating what you can eat, when you can eat it, is the best any of us can do, and it’s almost always plenty to keep us well-nourished. I’m glad food is starting to taste more normal now — this is something I’ve seen cancer patients go through a lot, and it sounds like you really did a good job taking care of yourself.

  41. Whitney
    Posted May 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your posts – I’m finding this all very interesting reading, because I’ve never had real food issues before and this is entirely new territory for me. I’m in my first trimester of pregnancy and food has become this horrible battleground between me and my body. I’m getting over the “sick three times a day” part, but I still feel awful if I don’t eat something every few hours even though I have zero appetite. Everything gives me ridiculous gas and I haven’t found anything that gives me any real energy. Just thinking about food makes me want to cry because it’s all so gross. I would eat nothing if that were an option but of course it’s not – I’ll feel much worse and it’s not good for fetus. I almost can’t believe that I used to really enjoy food prep and eating. Your discussion of how food has no intrinsic moral value is really helpful, and I’m also going to try to keep track of what foods help my body feel more or less okay. Though maybe a lot of it will also be what food makes me feel taken care of, since at least some of this must be in my head. I’m feeling very eating incompetent at the moment – I don’t suppose you have any other suggestions? Also, I really salute those of you who are overcoming food issues, as I never really understood how exhausting and overwhelming it could be (I probably still don’t, but you’re amazing!)
    Thanks again, Michelle.

  42. Nic
    Posted August 22, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I’m really glad I found this blog. Whenever I start feeling ok about my body (without having spent a day exercising or being all diet-y), it eventually starts to feel like I shouldn’t be, and that I’m just hiding from the fat, greedy truth in order to comfort myself. But this blog isn’t just comforting: you write so sensibly that the little self-nagging voice in my head has no choice but to shut up and feel better about myself. Shame about eating is so subtly entrenched in the media and the way we talk, and self-esteem is so damn fragile, that you forget that food is just food- fuel, fun, healthy or not healthy but nothing to do with morality. Well said!

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