The slobbering hounds

Praise-the-lord Disclaimer: I've got a cold and feeling quite delirious today! Everything seems mildly hilarious for no good reason. But that's not a bad way to feel about the world, is it?

Anyway. I wanted to clarify that I've not gone all Intuitive Eating bonkers. I wouldn't call myself an Intuitive Eater in the way that people might declare, "I'm a Weight Watcher" or "I eat Primal" or "I'm a naked tap dancer". I'm not carrying a card and I'm not a delirious convert shouting to the world I have fouuuund the answer!

All I've done is read a few books and blogs* then experimented with some ideas and techniques. As I have always said on this blog, there is no single answer. There is no hallelujah moment where you find The One way of doing things. All you can do is explore all the wild and wacky options then adopt what works for you, then change it again if it stops working.

I don't see IE as a set of rigid rules that one would accept or reject like a diet – it's more about ideas and guidelines. Some of the IE stuff I've been doing I'll keep doing forever, then other stuff leaves me scratching my head and asking a bazillion "yeah, but" questions.

You also can't take it all too literally. Example: Eat only when you're hungry is a common refrain in the IE stuff I've read. That has worked beautifully in the context of pausing before scarfing into a block of chocolate to to ask myself, "Do I actually want to eat this? Is something else going on here?". But when it comes to a 9.30AM Zumba class, I will eat beforehand even though I'm not hungry. As an experiment I skipped this once, and by 9.45 I was ready to spew on my shoes. Result: I eat a small snack before intense exercise, regardless of hunger. And that's okay, because there is no rule here to break.

The IE experiments are just one part of puzzle. As we head into autumn I'm feeling chirpy and appreciative about life, a much stronger position than this time last year. Lots of simple little changes are working together to keep the slobbering depression hounds in their kennels:

  • Going to bed earlier
  • Getting up earlier
  • Cutting WAAAY back on internet usage
  • Watching less telly
  • Shrink sessions
  • Some CBT exercises
  • Reading novels
  • Getting back into a regular writing habit
  • Meal planning – having food in the cupboards and a list of possible dinners breaks cuts out so much stress and faffery and crappy choices
  • Walking in the woods
  • Seeing new places and doing fun stuff

* will write a post later in the week about specific resources.

I can't remember what else I wanted to say, so I'll wind this up and go blow my nose!

May you all have a rock star week and thank you for all your insightful thoughts and opinions on these posts. Debate away!

42 thoughts on “The slobbering hounds

  1. Hi, I hope you feel better soon.
    You are so right. I don’t think there is just one answer.
    I’m trying a new eating plan I’ve found on the internet. In one week I lost 2.3kg, but I’m sick of salad and green veggies already! I eat a boatload of food everyday and for the first time in my life I want to lose weight so that I can eat LESS! Can you believe it. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep it up, but hopefully it will bring some change. I’ve been pushed by so many people to go see a nutritionist, that I am beginning to wonder, but the amount of money I’ll have to spend, leaves me cold.
    The search for new ideas are always on. And that is good, it keeps things interesting… πŸ™‚

  2. Love, love, love the simple little changes and their magical cumulative effect (which speaks in this post!). From little things big things grow, from little things big things grow and however that song goes after that.
    Rock on! πŸ™‚

  3. Feel better soon babe! I’m in total agreement – there is no one way to do things, we must do what feels right to us and our bodies and lifestyles, that’s what it’s all about. And simple changes can often have huge reverberations – so happy to see you are feeling the positive effects of it!!

    Your last 5 points I’ve been doing lately too, it makes a big difference! What have you read lately? Anything you’d recommend? If you haven’t read Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, do, I think you’d like it! I’m also enjoying The Last letter from your lover by Jojo Moyes.


  4. Thanks everyone! πŸ™‚

    @Phil – Ooh thanks for the recs, both of those are on my GoodReads to read list! I just finished the new Marian Keyes which was pretty good (but my favourite is still Anybody Out There?) and I read Her Fearful Symmetry, which you might probably enjoy for the wonderful London descriptions.

    All the while still attempting to read Anna Karenina on my iPhone… it was a free ebook, but really think I need to just buy it on paper before I'm permanently squinty!

  5. Well said – there are no rules. One of the things that freaks me out when I read about IE is when they tell you to go buy every food you might want to binge on. Excuse me, I’d have to mortgage everything I own to do that! I don’t just NOT have the cash, I don’t even have the pantry space!

  6. I’m interested in the cutting back on Innernet time. I’ve been feeling down about my job lately, there’s not much to do right now and I spend hours trawling through websites trying to fill my time. Looking at everything but kind of, feeling nothing? And then come home and sit on the computer and just feel desperate. Like I’ve read the whole internet. Surely a first world issue if ever there was one?

    Anyway, I think I’ll be putting a bit of thought into regulating my internet usage. Thanks for the inspiration lovely. xx

  7. Oh my, I too read the whole internet when I’m not doing well. It is a terrible feeling.

    I love those bullet points. What smart ways to fight off the hounds.

  8. Yay CBT, IE, shrink sessions, and trying to have some more fun in life.
    Another reason eating only when you’re hungry doesn’t always work: having pills or supplements to take…don’t like having those on an empty stomach!
    I’m currently working on some of the same stuff too! And reading a lovely book called The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl!
    Keep on keepin’ on!!

  9. I feel the same way. Dabbling a little bit with “intuitive eating,” or something like it. I think the very nature of intuitive eating is finally not worrying about rules and methods. I am even resisting the temptation to read books on intuitive eating- I think they would just mess me up. I would, inevitably, turn them into a stressful diet plan.

    That was all about me, but what I mean to say is that I am so happy you are finding a way that works for you. I am always wishing going things for you, Miss Shauna Diet Girl, as you helped pull me out of a very dark time in my own life! <3

  10. You have no idea how happy it made me to read that you eat before you work out even if you’re not hungry. I’ve been trying some mindful eating and have not only been having some stomach issues but actually went 36 hours without wanting to eat. Then when I got hungry couldn’t figure out what I wanted. In the meantimy my running was going down the drain because I had no energy!

    I am going to make “There is No Rule!” my mantra today.

  11. I love to read your posts about intuitive eating. I don’t know if I’m going to ever be able to do it though. My husband wants to eat at suppertime. So whether I’m hungry or not, I’m expected to fix a meal, or at least arrange for take-out or going out to a restaurant. I struggle with finding healthy options at take-out places & restaurants. The other day I picked up burgers and runzas for everyone (runzas are a treat: hamburger & cabbage stuffed bread buns–delicious!, and localized to Lincoln, Nebraska pretty much), and I got myself a salad from the same place. But I forgot to say HOLD THE CHEESE! Every salad in the world comes with cheese. I have to remember that. Not only do I not like it much, it just adds calories that I don’t need.) And I find myself resenting having to fix my son and husband a regular meal, when I can’t even eat much of it. For me intuitive eating would be easier if I didn’t have the unhealthy choices available. I have been hankering for a piece of chocolate, and I was thinking one of those mini Hershey dark chocolate bars wouldn’t hurt me. But you have to buy a whole bag of them, and I wouldn’t feel safe with that much chocolate in my house. I guess if I was a REAL intuitive eater, I could say, I’m not hungry, I don’t need to eat any more. That would be a real test for me. I’m afraid to even try it, cause I’m afraid I’ll fail. Others talk about cheat days or falling off the wagon and getting right back on it. In my history, once I fall off, I’m off. The last time I fell off, I was off for almost 30 years. So I have to stay on the straight and narrow all the time, because I just can’t get on and off the wagon very easily. I’m going to try this intuitive eating thing more and more as I approach my goal (still 55 lbs. away, but 114 pounds gone!), and I am very interested in reading what you are saying and experiencing with this concept and lifestyle.

  12. I LOVE this. IE has a lot of good ideas. But they are not THE GOSPEL of weight loss/weight maintenance. Keeping it all in perspective. Taking what works, and blowing the rest away, and all that stuff.

    Love it when I’m in one of those moods where everything is hilarious and I crack myself up. Loved this line: Anyway. I wanted to clarify that I’ve not gone all Intuitive Eating bonkers.

    Thanks, as always, for a good post, Shauna!

  13. Hiya poppet, get well soon, I’ve had a stinky low-level cold which keeps popping up again at a slightly less low level when I think its gone. Keep groovin’, petal.

  14. I couldn’t agree more with your bullet points. Over the summer I tried replacing Internet time with books–actually kept a book discreetly under my desk for downtime at work when I would otherwise be surfing–and it made a huge difference in the way I felt about EVERYTHING, not least eating (she commented on the blog post).

  15. Sorry that you’re feeling icky, I hope that your cold goes away soon.

    I have to admit that yours is the only blog that I don’t exit when I see a post about IE.

  16. Feel better soon! I’ve found that planning is key to my planning = me wandering aimlessly to the fridge and making some very, very bad choices heh.

  17. Dang. I am turning into a geek. I read this and kept thinking IE referred to Internet Explorer. Wasn’t sure why you’d want to go on a Microsoft diet.

  18. Thanks for a great post. I can relate SO much to everything you say. I’d love to hear your thoughts on intuitive eating, but also, maybe CBT? It might be a bit of a personal question but what sort of exercises do you do, and how do you go about it? I need to start thinking about new ways of kicking my black dog and horrible food relationship without just relying on meds.

  19. Thank you all so much for your comments… you make me laugh and think and feel and that just plain rocks πŸ™‚

    @Gabby – The most helpful CBT exercise I’ve done was about negative core beliefs – sort of how to stop and deconstruct a train of thought so I can ask myself is that thought actually true and turn that around. It was a bunch of worksheets that the shrink gave me, so unfortunately nothing I can point to online.

    If you’re looking to try something different, I have heard great things about which has a lot of good free resources for depression.

    A friend also just told me about a new site called Be Mindful, which is a campaign by the Mental Health Foundation, a UK charity. It has some really good resources about mindfulness which they say can help with mood disorders and stress. It’s at Looks like they have an online mindfulness course too – (Β£40)

    I’ve not done any of this stuff myself – disclaimer, disclaimer – but they look like good free resources if you’re looking for a way to dip your toe into the water.

    Hope that helps comrade!

  20. I am more of a proponent of ACT (Acceptance and commitment therapy). It is a bit more zen. I have done the cbt stuff.
    There are no rules – hmmm, this is something that I disagree with…
    We do need boundaries – with behaviour, with eating.
    I have been learning the power of good old fashioned “no” when it comes to eating.
    I had to pay a psychotherapist a lot of money to teach me that little gem.
    I successfully said “no” to the chippies in the ward meeting yesterday. A very empowering experience.

  21. @Cilla – I agree about boundaries, and definitely have re-discovered the power of saying no! But I didn’t say “there are no rules”… I said, “there is no rule here to break here” in reference to the “only eat when you’re hungry” IE guideline. I was saying taking this guideline like a rigid black/white all/nothing diet rule is not good if i want to get through a workout without spewing πŸ™‚

  22. I’ve been following intuitive eating principles for well over a year now and I’m really only starting to ‘get it’. Thing is, looking at your relationship with food is about so much more than food, which means it takes a while to make sense. No one else (or any book or blog) can tell you how to do it. Although I would say it’s helpful, if not essential, to read about it and learn from others to help you through the process. But at the end of the day you have to take a good look at yourself and also play around with the idea of acceptance, which is crucial before you can change. Some people aren’t ready for that, and that’s OK, but maybe why it takes a long time. Anyway, I really do think it’s worth doing. It’s changed me a lot.

  23. I say no to rigidity too – that does not particularly work for me either.
    I think I go well when I have a framework – but everybody is different.
    I like your things to do list – have made a similar one.
    BTW I cooked your broccoli recipe – yummmmmmm

  24. Nice to see you are down to action. I find your list interesting of what you are doing to feel better. There is one thing I would like to put a request in. You say you have cut down a lot on the Internet, can I ask why? I have suffered on and off a sort of addiction to Internet use (without the sort off) , and in my case it has made my concentration poor and given me anxiety. I would and still do use Internet as a way of relaxing, avoiding problems, and basically distracting myself or even at some point as a way of thrill seeking. I would love it if you could talk a bit about why using less Internet, is better for you. Nice reading you as always, take care X

  25. It seems very clear from this post and some of the responses that you should use whatever parts of intuitive eating work for you (if any) and ditch the rest. I certainly agree with that.

    I don’t use intuitive eating very much — except when I am really tempted to binge on something unhealthy (something that happens predictably when my period is due). Then I go and buy whatever it is I want — sometimes several things — but I sit down and eat them with real focus. I usually find that I eat only four or five bites of each thing and then just throw the rest away. Four or five bites of pizza, ice cream and fancy French cheese can still be a diet disaster, but it’s a lot better than eating a whole pizza or a pint of ice cream. The thing is, when I really focus on those foods I find they don’t taste as good as I thought they would.

    I am so envious, though, of all the commenters who say that their problem is eating even though they aren’t actually hungry. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t hungry for a meal or snack. I think it was when I had severe gastroenteritis four years ago. During the day, I eat every three hours or so, but the last hour of the three I have a seriously rumbly tummy and real hunger pangs. Intuitive eating books often say things like “Don’t eat if you aren’t really hungry, just because it’s lunchtime and it’s been three or four hours since breakfast.” That to me is wishful thinking.

  26. My mantra for the day: “The best diet or weight maintenance plan is the one that you personally find it easiest to stick to.”

  27. your post gives off great positive vibes – I like Eli’s comments about the internet – I use it more than I should but it is addictive – though I always say this is why I don’t take up facebook.

    I also feel that the change of season in Spring and Autumn is my favourite times of the year because they are so full of hope and by then I am ready for change. Glad autumn is cheering you up

  28. I’ve got a great CBT workbook called Mind over Mood which was recommended by a social worker friend of mine. Never quite got all the way thru it tho. Am now reading some Geneen Roth stuff on IE-type things. Quite flowery writing, but spot on for me. Hope you feel better soon – look forward to seeing your list of resources later in the week. j

  29. I’ve had a bit of a lightbulb moment in relation to intuitive eating recently, and it’s this……physical hunger can be felt in different ways. Yes, I know I’m definately physically hungry when my tummy is a-grumbling, but if my tummy isn’t grumbling but I’m light headed with no energy, that ALSO means that my body needs food.

    Bing! Lightbulb!

    Actually it usually means that I’ve been so busy that I’ve not noticed the tummy-grumbly bit and moved past it. All part of getting to know the weird and wacky world of my body.

  30. I’m afraid I’ve turned into a little bit of an IE evangelist, lol. Trapped a poor woman at my kids’ swim lessons the other day until she promised me she’d read the books. Felt kinda bad about that after I left. Oops:) But I love LOVE love your life tweaks. Especially the less Internet/TV and more reading one. The getting to bed earlier is key for me too. I really really need to work on that one!

  31. Hi Shauna,

    after rummaging through the net and reading about “intuitive eating” I had to bust my bubble and decided that my eating probably won’t ever return to intuitive.

    Why not?

    For the simple reason that after decades of eating disorderly (is there such a thing? Well, if not, I just invented it *g*) I completely lost my intuition when it comes to food and body image.
    And looking at the “Ten Rules of …” I could not figure me (or anybody) “learn” resp. re-learn intuition. Contradiction in terms, no?

    At the time being I feel quite comfortable with the notion of having to watch my diet (diet as in: what and how much I eat) for the rest of my life. Seems less miserable to me than try applying another set of rules to my life – and fail. And feel ashamed about it.

    I guess they are right who claim that there is “Not one way” to achieve a goal.


  32. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    This summer I read your book. Then I went back & read ALL of your posts here. I have been so inspired by you that I have joined one of the sites that you mentioned and am tracking my food intake,and exercise. So far this month I am down 6 pounds…only 100 left to go!
    Thank you for the inspiration to get started on my journey!!!

  33. Loved this post. It is all to easy to become evangelical when you find something that works for you and then want to share it with the world! Like you say, there is no one way. We are all unique so we have to discover and experiment to determine what is best for us and let the rest go. And then because we are always changing, we need to adjust. For me, as I have set my intention on keeping an open mind and focusing on finding my own balance between health and pleasure, it has all become easier.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  34. @ South American Slimmer, I am hungry all the time and have to eat pretty frequent small meals or I get cranky, headachey, etc. And I am not too worried about my weight right now and have reasonably healthy eating habits overall. But I actually find I still eat when I’m not hungry: another helping of something just because it was very tasty; dessert when I’m full; a larger pre-yoga snack than I really need (though I’m with you, Shauna, I can’t exercise with my stomach empty); or preventive eating–maybe I’ll forget to eat and then I’ll get a headache. So for me it is very useful to just stop and ask myself the question, because often I could stop or wait if I was more mindful of not being hungry. Desserts are my big weakness, but most of the time, if I’ve eaten a decent meal and I am honest with myself, I either don’t need a dessert (i.e., neither my mind or body feels a strong need) or could do with a very small one to savor.

  35. Okay, here’s what irritates me about IE in the versions I’ve read: It says to eat foods because you really want them. Food tastes good, most foods. I can read a recipe for something and think “yum” or read a menu and want to try most of the dishes or recall a meal I had a month ago and want to eat there again. Lentil soup! Eggplant canape! Bittman’s fried rice! ice cream, eclair, croissant. lasagna. calamari. I can be full from breakfast (which I am as I write this) and still think of how good this food would taste and want to have some. The point is, my dieting solution is to focus on the healthy foods and finding recipes that taste great, and finding other things to do with my time than eat or monitor my eating.

  36. It’s great that you’re figuring out what works for you. It’s true that one plan and all its rules doesn’t always work for everyone. IE is not something I’m great at. Which is why I carry around my “I’m A Weight Watcher” card. πŸ™‚

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