Meal planning vs intuitive eating.

Let’s talk about meal planning, shall we?

I have mixed feeling on this issue, so I want to open the floor to discussion and hear other’s opinions on this as well.

I used to be an obsessive meal planner. During me ED I planned all my meals and snacks for the week. Intuitive eating? Not a chance. I didn’t dare let myself intuitively eat because I was afraid I’d eat the whole fridge out if I did. So I planned exactly what time I would eat, what I would eat and how long it would take me to eat it (talk about obsessive).

I was so afraid this would be me

At the beginning of recovery my stomach had shrunk so much I was NEVER hungry. I would get full off of tiny amounts of food and thus had to force myself to eat. It was hard. I cried (a lot) because it felt so wrong. But just because it “felt” wrong physically (pain and bloating) as well as mentally (all the guilt that flooded my mind) didn’t make it so. In fact is was the most “right” thing I could have been doing. So I struggled past my feelings and held onto the fact that it would eventually get better

Thankfully, it did! Soon the eating became the normal part of my day to day routine it should be. However I was still bound by strict food rules and schedules and plans. I would plan out my food for the day I would go through terrible guilt when I went over that amount. Actually although I was doing so because I was trying to gain weight. I always ended up skimping on my self-imposed meal plan anyways – a old ED hangover.

My treatment team urged me to keep a food log, but after a while writing down everything I ate in a day flooded me with insane guilt. So for a while I stopped. I still kept a general track of my calories for the day, in order to ensure I was getting the minimum amount, but a lot was unaccounted for.

As I progressed mentally my need to compulsively keep track of my calorie intake faded. I focused more on nutrition then calories. I slowly conquered fear foods and started eating less restrictively. For a time I was urged to once again count calories in order to speed the weight gain process, but I soon found that to be a step backward instead of forward. So I let go and decided to try to intuitively eat.

Right now I don’t usually pre-plan my meals. I eat usually 5-6 times a day and I usually get hungry around the same times. I often have a few general ideas of what I will eat, especially if I’m cooking for someone else as well. But I don’t plan my snacks or smaller meals – I go by what sounds good for me. I try to have a good protein/carb/fat ratio, but sometimes I just go with the flow of what I’m craving. Sometimes it doesn’t end up “perfectly balanced” (usually I eat “too many” carbs for instance) but I know my body makes up for it in the long run.

After all, why not eat home-made frozen blueberry yogurt as part of dinner on a hot summer day ;).

Here however I encounter a problem. Sometimes I “crave” something that my body can’t handle. Take today for example – waaaay too much fiber 😦 In summer all I want are vegetables and fruits and the thought of anything else just didn’t cut it for me. However, apparently I need to put some planning into my snacks as well, as I had horrible IBS related stomach pains. I’m just afraid of it getting out of hand to the point I “feel bad” if I eat something more if I’m hungry. I don’t need that guilt in my life anymore!

At the same time a lot of bloggers firmly believe in meal planning, and those that have picture blogs MUST meal plan – right? So maybe I’m just missing out on something that would help me in the long run?

Do you plan your meals or just “go with the flow”?

Any suggestions how I can bring more structure to my meals without becoming obsessive?

What’s the weirdest (but good) meal you ate recently?

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5 comments

  1. i really just go with the flow! after years of obsessing an cooking food and being all for it.. im DONE.. so a lot of the time my meals are similar and i interchange them becasue i jsut HATE thinking about food! so i just see what sounds good (salad, wrap, sandiwch, etcc..) and make something quick and tasty!

  2. When I started eating more “healthy” I went from eating like once a day to 6 meal a day – so it was important to me to plan my meals to not be surprised by a sudden unavailability of food in my surroundings. When I got used to it, it suddenly became much easier to eat often, after every 3-4 hours and my feeling of hunger was a great sign to me, that it is a time to eat again. So now I am more of an intuitive eater and meal planning is an option for me only when I have to spend a whole day at work and know I won´t be able to get there something eat-able 🙂
    I love weird combos, now I am obsessed with cocoa and I put it anywhere. So I had lentil soup with cocoa on Saturday and carrot-raisin salad with cocoa on Sunday and green tea with cocoa in the morning today..and maybe also something else with cocoa 🙂

  3. I am really trying to embrace going with the flow. This whole year abroad thing has helped me let go of last of my obsessiveness, I think. I try to just have what I fancy (within the realms of whatever I have in the cupboard) and not over think meals. I meal plan to a point, in that I buy certain groceries and then have to eat them but other than that I really try to just be easy about it. It sounds to me like you have a pretty good balance at the moment! x

  4. I had such a similar experience it is weird. I love the term ED hangover, Wow. I needed that in my vocabulary because it a such a prevalent thing!

    Anyways for me, meal plans= restriction.
    I mean, if I was ever able to follow one (I am not) even then it would mean restriction because what if I wanted –I dunno– like an extra snack or something? I would never eat it. I am sure most girls with EDs on meal plan would never allow themselves more. That, to me, is restriction.
    Plus I copuld never follow one. Seeing things layed out like that is like a map of where to cut back.

    However, initially, just like you, I think I needed some sort of a plan or road map in order to get me eating again.

  5. Ugh. I’ve been there And am still there.
    Now, I’m underweight again. And counting and planning. And NEVER hungry. Like I’m in a ton of pain.I also eat a lot before bed…I don’t restrict …sometimes I binge. I feel guilt cuz I do zero exercise but eat chocolate, etc…it all just sucks and I feel none of it is natural and I’m making it worse.

    Sorry to be a downer.


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