My mother makes eggs for breakfast every morning. And once she gets hooked on a recipe, she sticks with it, sometimes for years.
To this day, I associate certain phases of my life with certain egg preparation methods. My childhood growth spurts were fueled by fried eggs on toast with cream cheese and tomato. When I started middle school, we started scrambling. As time passed and my palate grew more sophisticated, some herbs began to sneak their way in. Basil was my favorite, oregano acceptable.
Growing up around The Body Positive meant that I was introduced to the concept of intuitive eating at a very young age, and this particular breakfast food was my most influential teacher. At age five, I viewed soft boiled eggs as a special treat, and one unfortunate day I simply could not get enough. I sat at the dining room table, scraped out the inside of my first shell, spooned the runny yolk into my mouth, and yelled, “More eggs, Mama!”
My mom reminded me to say please, then made me another. And another. And another. Each time, she’d ask me if I was sure, if my little belly really wanted more eggs. She knew that allowing me to control what went in my body would teach me how to listen to what it needed, so rather than cutting me off, she brought me egg after egg, each cooked to runny perfection.
I think I ate half a dozen. You can guess what happened next.
Though that day turned out to be painful (and messy), it did indeed teach me a valuable lesson—my cravings send me clear messages about what my body needs, and when I satisfy those cravings, they fade.
Let me reiterate. The moral of this story is not “overeating is bad” or “intuitive eating means eat less.” That day, for whatever reason, my body needed an extra amount of the nutrients that soft boiled eggs provided. However, had I checked in after each egg, I would have realized after two or three that I was done craving them.
When it comes to intuitive eating, no one is perfect. I’ve been practicing for twenty years, and there are still times when I eat something my body doesn’t want, or enjoy a delicious meal past the point of fullness. (One of my mom’s favorite mottos is “everything in moderation, including excess.”) Freedom from perfection is what makes this type of relationship with food so powerful. Unlike a diet, there’s no such thing as “cheating,” or “falling off the wagon”—it’s just that sometimes we don't listen as well as others. So we learn, forgive ourselves, and try again at the next meal.
These days, I'll happily drive an hour in Bay Area traffic to get a plate of my mom’s most recent egg concoction, a gourmet scramble of mushrooms, onion, and arugula served on a warmed corn tortilla with avocado and cucumber. And sometimes, but only if my body wants it, I’ll ask for more.
To learn more about intuitive eating and how to practice it in your daily life, check out Embody!