Some fine women have been talking about demand-feeding lately (or intuitive eating, if you prefer, though I think there are some subtle distinctions), and it’s a subject that is quite close to my heart. 

I couldn’t have stopped dieting without wrapping my semi-starved little arms around the idea of demand-feeding and really committing myself to it.  I took it very seriously; my grocery bills were nutty those first few weeks as I stocked the pantry with all the foods that were forbidden. 

Every night, I’d pack up this huge lunchbox (really, it was a small cooler) with everything I might want to eat during the day because I didn’t know what kind of things I really wanted, having so distanced myself from my body during years of dieting.  And every evening, I’d unpack the huge lunchbox of everything that hadn’t be eaten, and repack it for the next day.  It was a chore, but no more so than the chore of packing my diet food–my 10 grapes, my 1/4 cup of fat-free cottage cheese, my 6 baby carrots.  And it was really a lot more fun, too.

My lunch box has gotten smaller these days, because I now have my appetite kind of figured out.  I know I get hungry 2 hours after breakfast, usually for something bready or crunchy, and usually again for fruit about an hour later.  Lunch is simple, a sandwich and fruit and veggies or cheese and deli ham with crackers.  I like sweet, creamy things in the afternoon around 3 (full-fat yogurt!  Woo!) and then I don’t usually get hungry again until 6:30, when I have dinner. 

I didn’t know my body had these rhythms until I started paying attention, but now they’re very consistent and I look forward to getting hungry now, instead of fearing it.

I still have all those “forbidden” foods in my pantry, and when my supplies get low or when I find myself thinking of a certain food in a more than passing kind of way, I go stock up.  I usually then eat a little of whatever it is, then the rest gets put away and I usually don’t even think of it again.  I don’t feel driven to eat it just because it’s there, because it’s always there.  The cravings, the deep, painful, consuming kind, have gone away because I know that I’ll give myself whatever I want whenever I want it. 

Taking care of myself in this most basic way?  Well, it feels so much better than wearing a size 4 ever did.

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