How Much Should You Eat?

***Update***

Do You Remember *Everything* You Ate?

I originally wrote this post because I thought that I was eating a lot less than I actually was! So I decided to try eating more to see what happened and maybe increase my metabolism a little. It turns out that I *was* eating enough already, but I wasn’t really realizing how much I ate icon wink How Much Should You Eat? I’m silly that way.

Keep reading if you’re interested in my original post!

**Original Post Below This Line***

For a long time I’ve been thinking about how much I eat, and I’m not sure it’s enough. But trying to eat intuitively makes you realize these things so I am going to do something about it.

How do you eat intuitively when you know you have to increase what you’re eating?

I don’t think it’s truly possible. But you still listen to your body and react even though you’re increasing the amount you eat, and you make note of how you feel before and after eating, so you can figure out what your body likes (and dislikes). You definitely don’t binge in an effort to up your intake.

You have to remember what Mimi reminded me in a comment this weekend:

Veering from intuitive eating is not a failure – it’s part of the journey.

This can be helpful when you are trying to eat more:

soft serve cone sprinkles 400x266 How Much Should You Eat?

(Source. A real soft serve cone, vanilla and chocolate swirl, with multicolored sprinkles. Just like I used to have when I was a kid.)

How do you balance intuition with what’s best for your body? Are they always in agreement?

19 Comments on How Much Should You Eat?

  1. Abby
    18 August, 2010 at 9:18 am (4 years ago)

    First of all, a twist cone with sprinkles is my FAVORITE ice cream ever, yet something I have avoided all summer for some disordered reason. Anyway, moving on.

    Although I am in no way at the point of being able to rely solely on intuition to eat, I do think there is a distinction between listening to your healthy mind/body and listening to the slightly skewed mind/body.

    While you’re eating enough, you logically know it’s still a little restrictive. This assertion comes from a healthy place of rationality and experience. What keeps you from increasing isn’t the fact that your body isn’t telling you to eat more, but rather that the slightly illogical part of your thinking is telling you you can’t trust your body to regulate itself and that “enough” is just that–enough.

    My point is that you know if you’re eating more/less because of a healthy motivation or a disordered motivation. Even though we claim to muddy up the distinction a lot, I think most people truly know why they do what they do. It’s about trusting ourselves, our bodies and the process.

    Progress, not perfection! Great post ;)

  2. Molly
    18 August, 2010 at 9:32 am (4 years ago)

    I think that when I eat intuitively I actually end up eating less than when I actively am thinking about how much I should be eating. It’s weird – I guess sometimes I’m not hungry when I should be. Otherwise it might be because I like to eat really healthy, fibrous foods that fill me up too quickly. I don’t know.

  3. Alyssa
    18 August, 2010 at 10:08 am (4 years ago)

    Really cool topic! I’m doing a bodybuilding diet/fat loss plan right now, so my eating is somewhat planned, somewhat intuitive. All I know is that I am hungry every 2 hours on the dot! I eat when I’m hungry, but I have meals planned for when I do get there.

    ~Alyssa

  4. theemptynutjar
    18 August, 2010 at 10:44 am (4 years ago)

    Hmm…I am not sure of your situation…but I understand. I don’t eat intuitively — at all.
    I have no hunger signals…and my “system” is kind of “messed up” (as in bowels not good, sorry TMI). I have no idea how to make it better, and doctors are absurdly useless.
    I have chronic lethargy and no energy. I’ve just resorted to walking and some gentle infrequent yoga stretch for a while.
    But I make (make) myself eat 6x a day. I feel constantly full. It drives me nuts when others say they eat naturally and the “body will know”…i feel like i am all backwards…but if I eat less, then I fear even worse lethargy…and eating more seems insane.
    I feel all backwards and keep wishing i could find the answer. It just sucks.
    Good post.

  5. Melissa
    18 August, 2010 at 10:59 am (4 years ago)

    I think it’s a very precarious balancing act. I do my best to eat when I’m hungry, but I also try to add a little something in the mix even when I’m not thinking about it because I’ve conditioned myself to think I don’t need food.

  6. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    18 August, 2010 at 12:56 pm (4 years ago)

    What an interesting post…naturally I am one of those people who I think “eats to live” not “lives to eat”. I run around, go go go, chase after my kid, am just on the go and bam, it’s the middle of the day and I’ve had very little…have to stop, sit down, grab something to eat. I just naturally am on the go and dont “live” for food and to be a foodie the way many other people do or those that write food blogs seem to LOL. I dont force myself to eat when Im not hungry either though. It’s a balancing act…for sure! :)

  7. Kim
    18 August, 2010 at 1:07 pm (4 years ago)

    I have to balance this really carefully. Sometimes, I think I’m eating intuitively, but I’m restricting. My signals get crossed sometimes and what I take as, “I’m just not that hungry” is really anxiety or something covering up my appetite. With disordered eating, I think it’s good to enjoy those moments when the body is shouting what it wants, loud and clear; but, there are the moments when I have to eat according to logic, not how I feel. I would eat too little if it was based solely on feeling. That’s what my intuition is telling me anyway ;)

  8. Anne@ Food Loving Polar Bear
    18 August, 2010 at 1:26 pm (4 years ago)

    I really like your intuitive eating posts. I think I eat too much and I’m not sure how much of it is intuitive. I’ve been trying to go with the flow, but it’s harder than I thought.. mainly because it seems I’m hungry a lot! :D

  9. Pearl Lee
    18 August, 2010 at 2:58 pm (4 years ago)

    thank you for being so honest in this post. in all of your posts.

  10. Eden
    18 August, 2010 at 4:57 pm (4 years ago)

    I thought I would NEVER be an intuitive eater, I thought it was simply something that my high school anorexia and college binge/restrict cycle cursed me with that inability. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to grasp, but naturally, I think I’ll always undereat because of that “less” is better than “too much”. Its silly to think so, but thats how my brain is programmed. I need tech support!
    I think if youve had and ED, you dont “forget” to eat. thats just BS if someone with ED past tells you that. the just chose NOT too. But as abby said, i think the important thing to recognize where the intuition is coming from, a health voice or an ED voice.

  11. coco
    18 August, 2010 at 8:17 pm (4 years ago)

    It happens to me that when I eat intuitively, I eat less. When I’m distracted by the people around me, by life, by other so many important things than food, I’m less obsessed about food, I don’t think about it and when I eat, I’d eat anything… meat, fat, fried food, cream, anything. I love love love eating this way because I don’t think about food and when I eat, I fully enjoy what I eat.
    Intuitively eating to gain weight? I find this sentence a little bit of contradicting itself. don’t you?

  12. clare
    18 August, 2010 at 11:04 pm (4 years ago)

    thanks for this maggie. im with coco above. eating “intuitively” i eat less, way less, which is bad for me. from a body devastating ED, my body signals are very wrong. my hormones are backwards, adrenals are screwy, etc. so, i dont get the right hunger signals, and i get busy, and i forget, and im not mindful, and i dont hear or listen because sometimes there is nothing to listen too! top that off with often my stomach hurts when i eat so intuitively why would i eat if it hurts?

    intuitive eating is hard for me and im in a bad spot right now. im eating way not enough and intuitively im feeling like its fine but mindfully knowing its not. does that make sense? im scared. i dont know myself and i dont trust myself, body OR mind. im trying to let go and let God.

    thanks for this post. im not sure if I even sorted anything out with my comment but thanks for just opening it up for me.

  13. sophia
    19 August, 2010 at 12:17 am (4 years ago)

    It’s so tricky when it comes to people with a background of eating disordered issues. We say we want intuitive eating, but we always sabotage ourselves somehow, becoming SUPER sensitive to every feelings of “bloat” or “hunger”. It makes us confused, and it leaves a big gapping hole for ED to take over again.

    I believe intuitive eating IS important…but when we’re just simply not eating enough, it just proves that maybe we need a bit more of a plan. For the initial stages, anyway, until we get used to eating the proper amount.

  14. Kristina
    19 August, 2010 at 1:13 am (4 years ago)

    I have to admit that I am NOT on the “intuitive eating” bandwagon. Not that I think that it’s a negative thing, and I definitely try to listen to my body and what would nourish me physically and also emotionally (without it being emotional eating). However, I also focus on including a wide array of foods and on cooking/preparing most of the food that I am eating.

  15. Cindy
    19 August, 2010 at 6:30 pm (4 years ago)

    wow that ice cream cone looks perfect
    intuitive eating is a big struggle for me right now. I so badly want out of the rigid, tracking, counting mode of life and eating.

    However when I just let it go, and eat what I think I want, life happens and I gain a couple pounds, get freaked out, and go back to what I am used to doing.

    recently I realized how checked out I can get when I eat and so lately I just try very hard to enjoy each bite and savor it. I still don’t worry about the calories but I will eat more if I make it at home, and eat less if its out.

    I am getting better at stopping when full and rarely ever eat just because. If I am stressed I want candy so I know what’s going on there.

    good for you , and it IS a hard journey.

    xo

  16. eatmovelove
    19 August, 2010 at 9:58 pm (4 years ago)

    I can’t relate…I eat when I’m not hungry, which is always. And, unfortunately, I do binge…but I’m tired of being told I’m a loser or weak for it…just tired of it.

    I think in some ways Intuitive Eating is a “diet”…like Averie said “Eat to Live”…if you know your going to be busy all afternoon, don’t just skip lunch because you don’t “feel like it” – respect your body and be sensible.

  17. Jennie Butler
    21 August, 2010 at 12:04 am (4 years ago)

    I’ve never had an ED, but I have taken medications with a side effect that significantly decreased my appetite, and I’ve had plenty of PMS. PMS, for me, affects everything from the types of foods that sound good, to the amount of food that I can eat without feeling gross. I eat intuitively slightly more than half the time, and for the other half I mimic the non hormonal eater in me. When I was on that medication that took away my appetite I would make myself eat according to what I knew that I normally ate before. I think intuitive eating is a good principle, but we each have to make our own healthy exceptions.

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