Intentionally eating more calories on the premise that TDEE is a lot higher than commonly believed is not my own idea; it’s been around for awhile. It’s often referred to as “eating the food” or ETF. There are a few bloggers I like who write a lot about ETF — especially Amber Rogers at Go Kaleo and her MD friend Joshua Kern at Go Maleo.
“Eating the food” is related to intuitive eating but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Someone who eats intuitively pays careful attention to their body’s hunger and thirst signals. They eat when they’re hungry, stop when they’re full, and eat what their body tells them it wants. Intuitive eating usually results in eating more calories but by definition it’s intuitive–not based on tracking or a specific caloric or macronutrient intake. Authors who write about intuitive eating are Karen Koenig in The “Rules” of Normal Eating and Evelyn Tribole in Intuitive Eating. Someone who “eats the food” may but need not eat intuitively–you can ETF according to a specific caloric or macronutrient profile. I eat semi-intuitively–I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full but I also track calories and protein with particular targets for both, which necessarily dictates what I eat to some extent.
The theory behind both approaches is that if when you experience a craving you actually eat what your body wants you’ll prevent bingeing (on foods you’ll eat now while attempting to stop the craving, and later on the food you’re actually craving when your avoidance behavior doesn’t work), thereby maintaining a healthy caloric intake.
While I’ve been eating the food, I have tried very hard to pay attention to my body and give it what it wants. Most days that’s a lot of protein, fruits and vegetables. “Healthy” food.
Then there are days like yesterday. I had serious sugar cravings so I ate 3/4 of a pint of ice cream and 2 butter waffle cookies. Body wanted sugar? Okay, have a bunch of sugar. Body wanted to feast at 11am? Okay, there’s no reason calories have to be evenly distributed throughout the day. This is the first time I’ve dealt with a real craving since I started intentionally eating more and it was kind of weird to just ride it out. But it seems to have worked. There’s still a packet of stroopwaffles and a bag of trader joes cowboy bark in the cupboard and I have absolutely no interest in eating them right now. Restrict-and-binge, killed in its tracks. No need for guilt; in fact, I’m actually quite proud of myself.
Foods that have been notoriously problematic for me for as long as I can remember: ice cream, peanut butter, pasta. It was better to just not keep them in the house (I remember a post from the earlier days of this blog saying just that). But since I started eating the food, I’ve not had a problem. There’s been a half empty jar of peanut butter in the cupboard since mid December when I made Buckeyes for the BF. The ice cream was in the freezer, open, since before Christmas. Pasta is on the grocery list for the week and I’m not worried about it.
Let me be perfectly clear: not feeling overpowered by my “problem foods” is strange and liberating and wonderful.
In search of my TDEE:
Went out for Mexican for dinner at the last minute–I would rather have eaten at home (dinner planned out and everything) but sometimes life happens (long boring story). I ate pretty sensibly, considering; I paid careful attention to my hunger/fullness cues and overall satisfaction. I was satisfied with a handful of chips and half my dinner and took the rest home. I did my best to estimate quantities and calories but it could be way off in either direction.