Thursday, February 18, 2016

How Intuitive Eating Helped

Intuitive eating was helpful in many ways and not in others.

The first idea that worked and stays with me today is eating small portions –if  I’m still hungry, I can eat more later.  I remember going to a workshop and someone saying that it’s startling to see how little they needed to feel satisfied. The woman said it was actually sad – she mourned large portions, but she didn’t need them.

I do this now. I eat small portions of anything I want and am still, to this day, surprised that a little bit is quite enough.

This leads me to idea of eating anything I want – no food is often limits, and I love that. For most of my life, I would deprive myself of most things tasty until I couldn’t take it, and I’d binge voraciously until I couldn’t breathe. There was no such thing as one cookie or one scoop of ice cream or one piece of bread.

Some people believe that some foods should be off-limits, that some of us have allergies to certain foods like sugar and wheat. I’m not sure what I believe, but I do know that I am able to eat everything in moderation these days, and don’t even want a lot of sugar or wheat. I’m surprised by how very little sugar interests me.

I do believe, though, that we each need to know our own bodies and honor them. If someone finds she can’t eat just one cookie or piece of bread, then she can refrain from eating them, if that seems to work best.

What didn’t work for me were a couple of tenets of intuitive eating. When I first began the process, I was deeply in the throes of binging and in six months, had gained 65 pounds. The idea of stockpiling my house with all my favorite foods (mint chocolate chip ice cream and brownies) proved too difficult to try for long. I loaded up on “binge” foods and ate and ate and ate. And ate. Freaked out, I stopped stocking ice cream and went back to my nearly empty refrigerator (diet coke & wine) – too scared was I to be around food. (I’m happy to say that my fridge currently brims with food – everything I need to eat. None of it calls to me when I’m not hungry.)

What also didn’t work was eating frequently throughout the day – every time I felt hunger, supposedly. For one thing, I wasn’t particularly attuned to hunger yet. Personally, I like to think less often about food, not more often. And I didn’t want to be eating all the time at work – it  seemed smelly and odd.

Also with intuitive eating, there’s the idea of eating only when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. So, if you’re not hungry, no matter where you are, don’t eat. This just didn’t work for me all the time. If I went to my boyfriend’s house and his mother made dinner, no matter my level of hunger, I was going to eat what she made. And I wasn’t going to nibble.

I can do this because I’m no longer afraid. I can face food fearlessly and comfortably and not think about it before or after I’m eating.

I learned this ability through Overeater’s Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. My next post will cover how this works.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trying Intuitive Eating

All my life, the only way I knew how to “control” my weight was through dieting and starving and that always failed. Restricting lead, inevitably, to bingeing, each and every time.

When I began the journey of changing this cycle, I was bingeing and purging many times a day. Life was so miserable, I didn’t want to get out of bed most days.

Realizing that what I’d done up to that point didn’t work, I looked for a different approach to eating and discovered the idea of intuitive eating.
This approach involves legalizing food — carrot sticks are not any better or worse than carrot cake. No food is forbidden. In fact, we should stock up on all our favorite foods in quantities so large we couldn’t possibly eat them in one sitting.
If you love dark chocolate, don’t buy one chocolate bar, buy ten. If you love carrot cake, don’t buy one cake, buy three so you can keep two in the freezer.  If you like crusty bread, buy a few loaves.  If you want heavy cream in your coffee instead of skim milk, go for it! Cashews and almonds—buy the family sized packages.
The idea is this. We chronic dieters have spent our lives eating controlled, pre-determined portions of pre-planned food at specific times of the day. How much, what, and when we ate had nothing to do with how much or what we wanted or whether we were hungry. And then there were those times we ate from “mouth hunger” instead of “stomach hunger.”
We need to eat food on demand. Demand feeding requires learning to feel and respond to stomach hunger. This re-calibration of eating habits requires vigilance. In particular, it requires that we attend to emotional reasons for eating, since a lot of times we seek food for comfort (mouth hunger) even though what comfort it brings is fleeting.
How do we change our eating? Let yourself get hungry as much as possible during the day and eat just enough to satisfy that hunger each time.  Carry a food bag, filled with your favorite foods, so that you are never hungry and without something to satisfy that hunger.  Stop thinking in terms of meals or of food that is appropriate to specific times of day. If you wake up hungry and feel like eating a bowl of chili, eat it. If it’s “lunch time” and all you want is a piece of chocolate cake, have the cake.
Stop eating when you are satisfied — not stuffed.  Stick with this, learning to forgive yourself, keeping at it long enough to convince yourself that you can stop now because, in an hour when you are hungry again, it will be okay to eat.  The idea is that if you know you will have permission to eat later (unlike when you’re dieting), it’ll be easier to stop at a comfortable place.

I tried a lot of this approach. In my next blog, I will discuss what worked and what didn’t and how I incorporated some aspects into my current approach to food – and life!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How I lost 100 pounds and Keep it Off Peacefully

It's been a long road. I grew up a compulsive eater, weighing well into the 200s until around thirty when I got tired of being the "fat one". In my thirties, I stopped eating and starved myself down to a sickly and miserable 85 pounds. Then followed bulimia, years and years of binging and purging, day and night.

Then I turned 42, 10 years ago this June, and I couldn't live that way anymore. My entire life had run around food and weight. I had one friend, a miserable job, no boyfriend, as well as a burgeoning drinking problem. Something had to change.

Throughout my life of bingeing, bingeing and purging and starving, I'd read all the literature I could on the topic of eating disorders and found two approaches which made sense - Intuitive Eating and Overeaters Anonymous.

Many would say these two are divergent options, but I've been able to combine some of both to have a relatively easy and pretty darn free approach to food and my weight, which is exactly smack dab in the middle of those height and weight charts, without my even trying.

My next blogs will be about how I did it and how I still do it, every day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Height and Weight

I went to the doctor today and had a few questions/concerns. My eyes have been giving me trouble – sometimes they ache, and my vision gets blurry. Also, my perimenopausal PMS is out of control – just yesterday, I broke down at work, sobbing and wailing in front of my co-workers AND my boss. I can’t live like this every month.

While there, I learned that for the first time in my life, I have high blood pressure. Me?!!!! My doctor looked a little concerned and ordered a full set of blood work.

Did any of this bother me? Sure, a little. But I got a referral to a good eye doctor, a prescription for Lexapro and we’ll monitor my blood pressure -  nothing alarming.

You want to know what sticks out most from this visit? My height and weight. I jumped on the scale and weighed what I’ve weighed every year, for as long as I can remember. The exact number, in fact. And a number I am quite happy about.

BUT – I’VE SHRUNK AN INCH, SO THE HEIGHT/WEIGHT RATIO IS DIFFERENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am, therefore, heavier than I used to be by about five pounds. THIS is what alarmed me.

Weird thinking dies hard. Happily, I am not planning on losing weight. I am just fine.