I worked a shift at the cancer clinic this week, and I thought it would be fun to take you along and walk through the ‘why’ behind my food and movement choices during the day. Back when I was first learning about intuitive eating, I found it so helpful to read about how others were demonstrating it for me. That said, please remember that this post is in no way a suggestion for what you should eat, when you should eat, how much you should eat, etc. Only YOU can truly know those things. However, I hope this sheds some light on how you can start to ask yourself questions to make those decisions in a way that feels good to you.
If you’re new here, I work PRN at a cancer center. I typically just cover when a coworker needs a day off, but I have been trying to drop in a help out when I can. This week I did so on Tuesday. Trevor is just getting into his busy season at work, but he was able to stay home with the boys and take Theo to preschool, which made it possible for me to work in town.
I got up at 5am because I wanted to workout before work. I like the way that I feel when I move in the morning. It helps me feel more awake and it also helps my body feel good during the day. I anticipated that I would be making phone calls to patients during the day to help my coworkers catch up, so I knew I would be sitting a lot. Here’s the thing, that decision to workout wasn’t based on a rule or out of fear- ” I HAVE to workout this morning because I’m going to be so lazy and sit all day.”
Instead, it was more like, “I like the way I feel after a morning workout, and I want to feel that way today. I’m not better or worse if I workout this morning, or if I have to sit a lot today.”
After the workout I need to hurry to shower and get ready and I’m usually not super hungry immediately after a workout. I add some collagen to my coffee because I don’t taste it and it adds some protein. I’ve been liking this coffee creamer from Aldi lately, but I usually get the sweet cream. They were out of that flavor last time I went so I got Hazelnut. Another food preference for me is I really don’t like the taste of sugar-free or even traditional coffee creamers. I feel like I can taste an alcohol taste and I prefer just cream or sugar instead, so I’ve been liking this version. I didn’t buy it because I’m fearful of artificial sugars or because I would have felt guilty buying something else.
By the way, THIS IS NOT BREAKFAST. I ate my breakfast soon after which was toast with butter and jelly, eggs and cheese.
My commute is about 30 minutes, I always enjoy listening to podcasts on the drive. I got into work and had a nice chat with my coworkers, who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks since my last shift. It was a pretty consistent day as far as speaking with patients, charting, checking emails, meetings etc. I started to feel hungry mid-morning and went for a yogurt from Aldi. The coconut vanilla is so good! I like that it has fat from the whole milk because it helps me stay full longer than a non-fat yogurt.
It’s always ideal to eat a meal uninterrupted and mindful. But, that’s just not always the reality when you’re working or even when home with the kids. I only had a few minutes to eat my lunch because I wanted to see as many patients as possible during the day to help out my coworkers. I packed leftover chicken parm casserole with Banza noodles and some leftover bell peppers. One of my coworkers always eats her lunches cold, and I’ve noticed that I don’t mind cold leftovers either! There’s a break room down the hall in radiation oncology that has a microwave where I can heat up my lunch, but cold casserole hit the spot today! However, I needed a little something more and remembered I had some coconut chips in my bag, so I ate some of those to round out the meal and end with a little sweetness.
I already mentioned that I sat most of the day. Typically when I work I go upstairs to infusion or meet with patients during their office visits in the building, but today I mostly made phone calls which meant I sat more than usual. However, I still felt hungry for an afternoon snack as I typically do. I used to think I didn’t deserve to eat a snack if I wasn’t active, getting steps in, etc. Now I know that my body’s energy needs change day to day and I can honor my hunger regardless of how much I moved in the past few hours. I used my brain a ton and that uses energy too. It’s so nice not to feel guilt or shame for eating when I need to! It’s also really freeing to feel no shame in front of others. For example, since I’m PRN I share an office with a coworker. I typically eat my lunch before she does and there are times when I’ll have a snack but she won’t or she will and I won’t in that moment. I used to compare my every move to those around me. I used to think that other people were judging me for eating if they weren’t. Now I feel confident in honoring my hunger and in eating, so I really don’t feel that way anymore. Even if someone were judging me for eating, that speaks to their troubled relationship with diet culture, not mine.
I got off work around 4:30pm and Trevor had just finished taking the boys to a well-check, so they were all in town. He had some gift cards to a restaurant and had mentioned using them. I HIGHLY suggested takeout, but Theo wanted to eat at a restaurant… What were we thinking??? It was so stressful. I don’t blame my kids, they’re 4 and 2, they aren’t programmed to know how to behave in a restaurant and we rarely go to one, so they acted as expected. I hate having to rush to eat and between trying to scarf down a salad (which was really good), and trying to keep knives and open cups of water away from either kid, it wasn’t fun. Finally I took both boys out while Trevor took care of paying and boxing up all the food they didn’t touch. 0/10 recommend that experience again. I’m giving restaurant eating another 5 years before I’m ready to go as a family again 🙂
I was exhausted when we got home, but I have Bible study at church at 7 on Tuesday nights, so Trevor took over baths and bedtime so I could make it to that, which I really appreciate! I’m definitely the youngest of our group, but I think being mentored by older women of faith is so important. We’re going through this bible study on prayer. So far it’s really fruitful and we’re only going into week 3.
After I got home I had a snack before bed, but I can’t remember what I had and didn’t snap a photo.
There you have it! An entire day where eating didn’t take up a ton of brain space and guilt and shame weren’t players in my food choices. It didn’t always feel this effortless, and if that’s you right now I want you to know that it does get easier, but learning to trust your body is a process.