IIFYM for Vegans – Intuitive Eating.

I’m going to be honest; making peace with food is not as easy as it sounds. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently in the process of finding a balance in my eating habits, and trying to get to a place where I feel comfortable with my body without obsessing with the process. Nonetheless, becoming a vegan naturally means restricting; in this context, this is not necessarily a negative word, but if you base your diet exclusively in whole and plant-based foods, of course you will be abstaining from A LOT things.

Restricting: put a limit on; keep under control. Deprive (someone or something) of freedom of movement or action.

Such a horrible word, with a very negative meaning, in my personal opinion. Besides, restriction also has a terrible impact in our eating habits and the way we behave around food on the long run. When you restrict too much on a specific food or food group, you end up craving it even more. I think that this is the reason why I have been feeling anxious and experiencing cravings for about a month. Even though I don’t miss any meat or dairy, I think that the mere fact of knowing that not all food is available generates a psychological feeling of restriction that ultimately leads to overeating and bingeing.

After some reading, I have found some beautiful and useful conclusions about Intuitive Eating that I think everyone with some kind of bad relationship towards food should know about.

  • The more a person is exposed to a particular food, the less appealing it becomes
  • Giving ourselves “pseudo-permission” to eat a certain food, with the conviction to limit its consumption in the future, is not making peace with that food
  • Eating something indulgent with the knowledge that we will binge on it, is only going to make us fulfil the prophecy
  • Removing all restrictions from food is the only way we will be able to receive our bodies’ intuitive signals on hunger and nutrition
  • Having self-trust and believing in the process is crucial if we want to experience change

Having this in mind, I know that I still haven’t totally made peace with food, because I regularly binge on my favorite foods (peanut butter, mainly). As being a vegan limits many food groups, I wanted to make sure I was getting enough of each macronutrient into my body, because this can also be a reason for binging. This is where I want to make a connection between IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), or Flexible Dieting, and Intuitive Eating. Even though being an intuitive eater rejects counting calories, I have found that knowing the amount of macronutrients I need to have and planning my meals with time, changes my mindset on food and makes me eat in a balanced way throughout the day. This way, I know I’m getting the right amount of nutrients without giving much thought to my cravings and without limiting any food group.

For those not familiar with IIFYM, it’s a way of eating (NOT a diet) which splits your daily calorie intake into your macros in a way that suits your daily caloric needs. There are no food restrictions as long as they fit into your “prescribed” set of macros, it’s easy to stick to during social events, and you can eat the foods you love while reaching the goals you’re looking for. You can calculate your macros yourselves with an online calculator, but I would advice you to consult a professional coach who works with this kind of nutrition plan, which is what I did.

I’ve been following my meal plan for a week, which is too soon to talk about any results, but I did want to share this new journey I want to follow. It’s not my first time with IIFYM, and the period of time I practised it I did see results, but it is my first time doing it on a plant-based diet. What I find harder of this way of eating is reaching my protein goal, because most plant-based sources of protein also have a considerable percentage of fat and carbs, which requires more planning and creativity, but with consistency I know it’s achievable. I’m not planning on following this plan forever, and this is not about being hungry, feeling restricted or being obsessive. I just want to have an idea of how much I should be eating for feeling better an achieving my goals.

I’ll be following up on my process, giving you my opinion and some tips I may find during this journey. If you have any comments or thoughts on the topic, I’m open to anything you’d like to share! 🙂

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