Posted by: Hil | November 6, 2009

Intuitive Eating Lab


Everything is lawful, but not everything is beneficial.  Good life advice that is surprisingly applicable to eating.  I’ve been feeling a bit off my game this semester.  I consciously deprioritized food over the spring and summer because I was just too busy to do otherwise.  The things I was busy with were exciting and interesting and definitely worth it, but there were more nights than I would prefer when I walked through the door, collapsed onto the futon and didn’t move until the Lemonator revived me with a bowl of mac and cheese from a box.  Now that I’m back in school, things are much saner, but I found that many of the good habits I had been breaking were, alas, no longer habits.  So I’ve been working on gradually rebuilding my healthy routine.

One fun thing I like to do when I’m getting back into my normal routine is what I call my “intuitive eating lab,” which is basically taking myself out to a nice meal and practicing eating what I want and not eating what I don’t want.  I eat slowly and without distractions and stop when I am full.  If I want dessert and alcohol and bread and butter sauce on my entree, I eat all of them.  If I’m not feeling any of them, then I don’t eat them just because I’m out to eat.  It sounds common sense, but its really easy to eat on autopilot when you’re busy, and when you’ve been busy for a long period of time, it can really take some conscious effort to breakdown the autopilot and get back into the habit of thinking about–and enjoying–what you are putting into your mouth.  I find that it’s a nice thing to do when you’ve been feeling off or after a change in routine or season.

I took myself out to a favorite farm-to-fork cafe.  There are lots of healthy options here, but also lots of rich food, which is ideal for a “lab” setting.  I brought a book to read while I waited for my food, but set it aside while I did my eating.


My very favorite thing to eat here is the chicken satay sandwich:  juicy marinated chicken thighs smothered in peanut sauce, creamy avocado, scallions and Japanese pickles on toasted nine grain bread.  SO GOOD.  The sandwich started as a special, and whenever I ordered it, I would always end up eating more than I was really hungry for because I couldn’t stand the thought of such deliciousness going to waste.  The sandwich came with a scoop of delicious curried quinoa salad, and often as not I would buy sparkling juice and maybe split a freshly baked cookie with the Lemonator as well.  All of those things are delicious, but do I really need all of them at every meal?  Probably not.  There’s certainly no rule that says I can’t have a sandwich and a drink and half a cookie, but there’s also no rule that says I have to have all three just because I’m treating myself.

To my delight, the chicken satay sandwich had been added to the regular menu along with a salad version of the same dish.  My eyes lit up when I saw the salad on the menu.  The bread is certainly good, but the real point of the sandwich is the interplay between the peanut sauced chicken, avocado and cucumber.  I was hungry, but not starving, so the salad seemed like a good option.  It was perfect–plenty of chicken and avocado and completely satisfying as a main dish.  The greens were fresh and very lightly dressed, which meant that you could swirl forkfuls of greens in the leftover peanut sauce without making them soggy. 


I decided to opt for water instead of juice (cheaper anyway) and complete my meal with a single square of extra dark chocolate rather than a baked good.  The baked goods are delicious, but I really wasn’t hungry for both the salad and a cookie.  The chocolate square was a perfect end to the meal.  The chocolate had a nice snap to it and tasted delicious.  I savored it slowly.


I left lunch feeling happy, satisfied, and experiencing what Rose refers to as a “belly hug.”  I felt invigorated and went on a nice walk afterward–a good meal always gives me enough sustenance that I feel like walking, but doesn’t leave me so stuffed that I fall into a food coma.  The thing about my intuitive eating labs is that they aren’t about finding some objectively right answer as to How Much Food Is Enough–this meal was perfect for today, but if I’m hungry for a cookie next time, I’ll order a cookie.  It’s more about taking the time to really listen to my body and make conscious decisions.

The Lemonator and I are off to see This is It.  Happy Friday, everyone!



  1. ❤ belly hugs 🙂

  2. i adore this post, this concept, and your approach to eating. balance at its very, very finest.

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