Saturday, August 30, 2014

The most important thing to unlearn

As a dieter, we are always restricting our foods, whether it be calories or entire food groups.  We eat our allotted portion of food and then we are not allowed to eat again until it is time for a snack or the next meal.  If we get hungry again before that time comes then too bad.  If we are still hungry at the end of the meal then too bad.  Over the past two days, I am amazed at how often I think and tell myself "there will be more food.  If you want this food later you can eat it.  It is okay to stop eating now because if you get hungry again you can eat when you are hungry."  What makes it so incredibly difficult to let go of food as a dieter is the fact that we limit it, so our bodies go into survival mode and we are always looking forward to the next time we can eat.  At least that is what I do.  I get panicky at the end of a meal knowing that I wouldn't get to eat again until it is time for the next meal.  Yesterday after my snack attack Matt decided that we would go out to get Vietnamese food.  On a normal day I would have thought "oh what the heck, I have already blown it today, so I might as well go all out" and spiraled out of control in an "eating because you ate" binge.  However, instead of doing that, I told myself "It is okay, there will be more food later.  If I get hungry again tonight then I can eat the rest of my food".  Instead of eating ALL the food I could get my hands on at the restaurant, I ordered my usual Tai Pho and ate until I noticed a drop in the intensity of the flavor, which really wasn't all that much food since I had eaten sooo much earlier in the day.  Before trying out Hunger Directed Eating I would have thought that I needed to eat all my food because tomorrow I was getting back on track and this food would be off limits since it is high in sodium and carbs (lots of noodles).  And besides that, this was all I was going to get to eat tonight so I had better stuff myself so I don't get hungry until tomorrow.  Instead I told myself, "it's okay, I can eat this food tomorrow when I get hungry, and heck if I get hungry tonight I can even pull it out and have some more later tonight if I get hungry again."  And I felt so liberated, and guess what.  I didn't get hungry the rest of the night.
This is how much food I had left over.  Instead of eating all of it because I needed to get back on track tomorrow, I felt assured that if I got hungry later, there would be food waiting for me.
The most liberating thing to know is that there is always more food.  This wasn't true when I was tracking calories.  Once you hit your daily caloric goal that is it, you are done.  It doesn't matter if you are still starving, you don't get any more food.  I have gone to bed so hungry before that my stomach was violently cramping.  But I couldn't eat any more food because I had used up all of my calories that day.  Guess what happened just a few days later... that's right I binged (or as Josi calls it "gasping for food" which quickly spirals into "eating cuz you ate").

Now I am not saying that I have been eating perfectly.  I most certainly am not yet, I am still figuring this out, but I am working to apply as many of the principles that I can.  Yesterday I ate a ton of junk, and I ate at the grocery store before I even made it to the checkout stand (which goes against the suggestion of sitting down to eat and making sure you always do all your eating in your designated eating spots which helps you define when you are and when you are not eating so you are not mindlessly eating).  I had a very hard time stopping eating mostly because I was eating as I was shopping and not really paying attention to the food except that it was good and I wanted to eat more.  Now I have my designated eating spot, and I plan to plate all my food even if it is a handful of chips, or some candies.  No distractions (a hard one for me, I love reaching for my phone and surfing facebook while I eat lunch) and really get into the groove of Hunger directed eating.  There is a lot to learn but I think that this method really could work, especially since I have done a lot of the background work.  I am not sure what Josi would say to the fact that when I was 211 pounds my stomach was physically bigger than it is now.  It was stretched out due to all the food I was putting in it, and a larger stomach makes one hungrier since part of satiety is the physical feeling of your stomach.  But maybe reconnecting with your body allows you to realize when you have had enough food (through the taste test) without needing your stomach to be physically full.

I am excited to try living like a normal person, and developing a healthier relationship with food, one where I am not so obsessed over what I am eating for the next meal, or the next snack or counting the minutes until I can eat again.  Just eat and get on with my day, think of all the things I could think about besides food!  Because once you free yourself of restrictions, really there always is more food, waiting for you the next time you get hungry, every time you get hungry so don't worry about eating it all now, because you can always eat it later if you really want to.

I still don't trust myself yet, and I am still getting the panicky cravings of "I have to eat this now because I won't be able to have it later".  I can feel the conflict inside of myself as I still don't yet fully believe it will work, so I don't fully believe that I will allow myself access to certain foods all the time.  I hope it does work though.  It is everything I have ever wanted.  To live and be thin without counting calories.  Trusting and listening to my body.  So I'm going to give it a good try, at least one month and then I will see how I feel, if I feel thinner, better, more energetic, more confident, like I'm gaining mobility and getting it down, making progress. Or if I feel like I have been gaining weight, and my self esteem is in the hole because I am just failing miserably.  I figure one month should be enough time to decide if I should give it another month or go back to what has been working for me so far.  Your thoughts?

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