Intuition vs. Cognition; Re-building the Body
This may be a general question, but may also end up being a "Dear Mark":
First, some background information:
I am a 22-year old female, 5'8" tall, weighing 105 pounds. I have not confirmed this, but would estimate my body fat % to be in the single digits, or at least very low teens (as in: my current degree of "lean"-ness would make me an excellent resource for an anatomy class).
I have always been naturally slim, with my highest weight hovering around 128 (about 5 years ago). However, due to internal and external pressures and influences, as well as perfectionist tendencies, I developed an unhealthy relationship with food, eventually descending into all-out ortho-/anorexia/perpetual over-excercising. These tendencies, coupled with a year-long stint as a vegan (and a low-carb, low-fat vegan, at that), resulted in dramatic, rapid weight loss (and amenorrhea, and hair loss, and the whole nine yards).
I finally jumped off the vegan train about two months ago, reintroducing fish and seafood, yogurt, and eggs into my diet. I already feel a great deal better. I have continued to be active, because my intuition tells me that turning into an over-eating couch potato would not necessarily result in a return to a healthy state.
However, my intuition has also been tremendously tricky when it comes to appetite. For example, I can count multiple days over the past few weeks that were full of various physical activities, but during which I consumed 1600 calories or less. For example, yesterday was such a "very physical" day: roughly 2 hours bicycling (to and from work, home, etc, at a fairly vigorous pace, over bridges and the like), a vigorous early-morning yoga class, and aerial acrobatic practice in the evening, in addition to basic daily activities. However, I had very little appetite.
In such situations, is it more important to "listen to the body", or should I muscle through and force myself to eat, regardless of what my intuition and stomach are telling me? It seems (literally) counter-intuitive to force anything, in either direction, but intellectually, it would make sense to eat regardless of the absence of physical hunger.
Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Response to Intuition vs. Cognition in Eating
You've probably already written to Mark or found your way by now, but I'm interested in your topic. I also must say I'm new on Mark's Apple and am in no way a health professional. However, my intuitive opinion is to go with your intuition for the most part. Perhaps at times push the boundaries a bit but not too far or too hard.
Also, for my own sake, I have a similar question about the extent to which degree & intensity of working out should be intuitive or cognitive.
Originally Posted by anadolis
I think in some cases, you cannot trust your hunger/satiety signals because they are broken. You may be able to restore them in time, but I don't think it's unreasonable to set a daily caloric goal for a time.
Having a tendency in the other direction and having the ability to eat like a 25 year old male construction worker, I can't trust my intuition.
When people would ask if I were hungry, I used to joke that I'd been hungry since I was 12. Except, that it's not all that funny, and it's close to true.
Hard exercise has never made me feel more hungry (except sometimes after swimming), and has often made me feel less hungry. Though a lot of people seem to feed themselves more on workout days, I don't necessarily agree that the added activity of the day "naturally" makes you more hungry. If you think back to before we had what I think of as artificial exercise, if a person were out hunting or migrating, it would make more sense (to me anyway) that the body would dial down hunger until the person settled in to a place of rest.
While there are times when listening to one's body makes sense (you don't want to lift a heavy thing until you hear a crack or a pop for eg.), I don't think that the artificiality of our environment is conducive to most of us getting the hunger signal only when we're truly in need of sustenance. Go into a movie theatre and you want popcorn because it smells like popcorn. Walk down a busy city street, pass street after street of raw oyster signs, and you may just finally pick one and go eat a dozen raw oysters. TV commercial after TV commercial of a given food may trigger you to want that.
So, from the opposite perspective, I can tell you that "listening to my body" when it comes to the consumption of food has only ever made me fat. Which doesn't mean that I'm recommending that you force food. But I do recommend examining your relationship with food. If you think of it as evil, you might be in trouble. If you think of it as fuel for the things you want to accomplish and also as the thing you need to have beautiful skin, hair, and good health, you might start wanting a bit more of it.
"Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine
Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.
It is good that you started to go vegan, but in my opinion our body needs protein. Maybe you can casually eat pork, steak, or beef. You stated some vigorous activities, but you also stated that you don't have much of an appetite. I am not a doctor, but I can say it must be a symptom of anorexia or some eating disorder. I think that you need to develop some discipline. You exercise often, but you don't seem to eat enough. That is not healthy, is it? You should probably consult a dietician to help you control what you eat.
Last edited by holmes55; 02-12-2014 at 01:50 PM.
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