You can be trusted with food.

“If I try to eat intuitively, I’ll never stop eating.”

“If I try to eat intuitively, I’ll gain so much weight, I won’t fit into any of my clothes.”

“If I try to eat intuitively, it will turn out that my desire for food is endless.”

Can you relate?

This is the number one fear I hear from people who want to change the way they are eating, but feel too afraid.

And my heart aches, as I hear it. Because I’ve been there too.

Frankly, I still have those fears, on days when I am feeling scared and frustrated and overwhelmed. On those days, my desire for miniature peanut butter cups feels infinite.

But let’s get real here for a second and acknowledge exactly what it is that these fears are about:

They are about our belief that our essential selves are too big.

Too wild.

Too crazy.

Our essential selves are vortexes of need that will consume all the sugar in their path because that they are endless, infinite, all-consuming. (I mean, I might be getting a little dramatic here – maybe what you believe is that if your essential self has the chance, she will eat and eat until you gain 40 pounds - but you know what I mean?)

To that, I want to offer you a very simple truth that is at the core of my belief system about eating and about life:

You aren’t too crazy or wild. You have just spent too long not listening to yourself.  

Let me give you a very vivid example.

Four years ago, I was staying with my parents for a month before starting a new job, and I had just discovered intuitive eating. I had spent most of my adult life, up to this point, alternately feeling restricted around food or bingeing, and I was exhausted.

I was desperate to lose weight, but even more than that, I was desperate to feel not-crazy around food. I decided that I would even be willing to never lose weight, if I could stop this terrible fight with myself.

So I started with muffins and Mexican food.

My mom always bought these incredible chocolate chip muffins from the supermarket. (Well, maybe they weren’t absolutely incredible, but I loved them).

My mother is wise and loving and the happiest CEO eating type I know (don’t know what a CEO is? Check out my what’s your eating style quiz!). So, when she eats a muffin, she has a plan for eating in moderation. She eats one quarter of a muffin. Or one half of a muffin, tops.

As a result, I had spent most of my adult life usually also eating one half or less of a muffin, because I thought that was the “right” thing to do.

But, to be honest, I was freaking tired of eating halves and quarters of muffins.

I wanted a whole muffin.

And I didn’t want to just eat muffins for breakfast.

I truly felt like I wanted to eat muffins all day.

So I let myself get hungry. And when I got hungry, I asked myself what I wanted, and it was a muffin. It was 4 p.m.

So I went to the kitchen and got a muffin. I toasted it in the oven, so it was warm and the butter melted, and I sat at the dining room table to eat it.

(And felt terrified. We were a house where people ate apples, or perhaps almonds, for a snack. We were not a house where people ate whole muffins in the afternoon. Was someone going to come and arrest me? It sounds funny when I say this, but it was not funny at the time).

And I ate my whole muffin.

And the next day, I wanted a muffin again at 4 p.m., so I ate one then too. I also toasted it, so the butter melted and was perfect, and I had a big glass of milk. And I put down a placemat and ate it at the dining room table.

Part of me was convinced that this could not keep going on like this. Entire muffins as snacks was not ideal. I was going to stop fitting into my jeans very soon.

But you know what was crazy? That night, after my second day of muffin eating, I went out to a Mexican restaurant with my family.

You should know, I LOVE Mexican food. But Mexican food places had always been scary to me – the calories add up so fast once you start getting things like chips or guacamole or quesadillas. 

And I love chips and guacamole and quesadillas.

I also always found myself obsessively looking at other people’s plates during meals like that, especially my mother’s, because she was very good at moderation. I tried to eat no more than what she was eating, but I usually failed.

But on that night, I found that I wasn’t hungry at all. I had eaten a big muffin for a mid-afternoon snack, after all.

So I had a bite or two of a quesadilla, a chip or three, and brought the rest home as leftovers.

That had never happened to me before. Ever.

I wasn’t hungry.

Up until that point, I felt terrified eating at Mexican restaurants, because I didn’t feel like I could be trusted. But when I let go and trusted that I would stop eating when I was full, I didn’t want to eat that much after all. 

That was my first experience with a concept that is at the absolute core of my philosophy about eating and about life:

You aren’t too crazy or wild. You have just spent too long not listening to yourself.  

Everything else I write about on this site is an outgrowth of this philosophy. If we communicate authentically with ourselves, we will know when it is time to eat, and we will know what to eat.

Our deepest selves want to feel good. Part of feeling good means eating chocolate cake, because chocolate cake is rich and makes our toes curl.

Feeling good also means that our bodies want to be able to move and feel comfortable and balanced. And in order for that to happen, we can’t eat chocolate cake all the time. We need protein and fiber and whole grains and leafy greens.

We also need to, you know, stop eating occasionally.

So that’s my challenge for you for this week:

What if you opened up the lines of communication between you and yourself for just a day or two or four?

What if you nicely asked yourself what you wanted, and then gave it to yourself instead of micro-managing the whole thing in your head?

And then did it at the next meal?

What if you trusted that your body knows when it is hungry and when it is full, and that it will tell you?

Could you try it? Even for just a day?