I have a love/hate relationship with food.
I love food when I am in the mood to cook, when I have a craving for something I really enjoy, when I savor a rich, smooth and sweet piece of chocolate, or a crispy piece of bacon, the crunchy, salty, cheesiness of tortilla chips and queso, the tangy sweet french salad dressing with fresh spring greens, carrots, red onions, and cottage cheese, sauteed green beans in butter with ground sea salt and pepper, a thick, juicy medium rare steak with A-1, thick and chunky mashed potatoes with garlic and gravy. Soft pretzels with sweet mustard. Creamy, runny, rich eggs Benedict. Creamy macaroni and cheese, preferably from a homemade sauce made with real cream and cheese melted and poured over noodles. Sesame or orange chicken where the sauce is soaked up in the white rice.
Yes, there are definitely some foods that I enjoy. No doubt about it. But some of those things have made me feel guilty for eating them in the past. Sometimes, I have gotten so disappointed with myself that I do not trust myself to make the right food choices for my body and would rather forget the aspect of eating and swallow a tasteless nutritional pill or supplement to avoid eating all together. Sometimes, I just don’t want to bother thinking about food, preparing food, or even taking the time to eat it. When I was younger and on summer break, I would sometimes go until dinner time without eating because I was too busy to bother eating. When I did eat, I would inhale the food, barely tasting it, only as a means to quiet my hunger and move on to my daily activities. Even today, lunch time is usually a rush and I often eat at my desk at work.
Eating too fast can definitely lead to weight gain, or at least, eating more than your body desires, because it often takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain to stop eating. When you eat too quickly, you may eat more than your body requires and not realize it until it’s too late. I know for a fact that I have done this far too many times. And lately, if I get to that point anymore, it’s so uncomfortable that I throw up, and then proceed to beat myself up for not slowing down and paying attention to my hunger level as I eat. I’m definitely a visual eater — what’s on my plate, I eat. I was part of the clean plate club as a child, and I’m just used to eating what’s there. It’s very hard for me to eat slowly, and to leave food on my plate if I am no longer hungry.
Since starting the Health at Every Size approach, and giving myself permission to eat what I please, as long as I listen to my body, has been a challenge to say the least. I have gained a couple of pounds (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to look, but I am curious to see how my weight is doing day to day and it’s NOT a trigger for me anymore). Learning to eat is hard, because I’m still making the same mistakes and I realize it may take a little while for me to adjust and learn how to listen to my body. I will make mistakes while I am learning, that’s part of it. The biggest thing, is that I need to stop beating myself up if I make a mistake. My body is a complex, powerful thing and it can handle it. I just need to relax and allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them.
The holidays are a trigger for me because so much of it revolves around food. What happens is that I’m hungry while waiting for the holiday meal, so I fill up on finger food and appetizers. By the time the meal is on the table, I’m no longer hungry because I ate too many appetizers and spoiled my dinner, but everyone else is sitting down at the table and everything looks so good that I can’t pass it up. I actually have more issues with overeating during holidays, parties, get-togethers, etc, then I do on a day-to-day basis. I tend to gain 5-15 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years because of it.
After the last time I overstuffed myself and threw up, leaving broken capillaries all around my eyes and cheeks; I swore I would not do it again. I will certainly be making a more conscious effort throughout the year to become more mindful with my eating, so that maybe next year I can be better prepared for it. And, maybe make some of my favorite dishes throughout the year so when the holidays come I don’t feel as though I will have to wait another year to enjoy something I really love.
How are you coping with learning to eat again? Do you find it easy to adapt, or are you struggling with it like I am?