Monday, February 25, 2013

How I Eat, part 2.

This post is going to be about why I eat how I eat, and for me this was a huge part of being able to manage and control my weight. There are lots of reasons to eat, staying alive being the most obvious, but often not foremost in our minds when we fill our plates. It is important to ask ourselves why we are eating, because when we discover the answer, we may find that our motivations to eat might be best served by doing something other than eating. Let me illustrate.

It is winter. I am prone to SAD (seasonal affective depression) moods. I wander into the kitchen to fix a snack. I am not hungry, but I need some comfort. This is why I am about to eat. But wait! What if I found that a little classical music (or better yet, CCR's "Traveling' Band") would do an even better job? "Travelin' Band" would even get me dancing, and therefore, burning some calories. The need is met. Food is not eaten.

I finished a quilting project and my knitting project and have not started a new one. I have also finished my book and have not been to the library. I want to start a decorating project, but don't have the funds/materials/motivation to get it going. I wander into the kitchen and peek in the fridge. I am about to eat because I am bored. But wait! Remember all those photographs you wanted to scan and put in a facebook album? That doesn't need money and the materials are on hand. Get busy. The need is met. Food is not eaten.

I'm at a party. I don't know a lot of people. I am shy. I go to the food table and am about to fill my plate up again. But wait! I am about to eat because I am nervous and uncomfortable. I look around the room and find someone who looks more nervous than I am. Time to practice overcoming shyness. I leave the food table, take a deep breath, and say, "Hi. There sure a lot of people here I've never seen before. My name is..." A challenge is met and brought down to a smaller size. I chose to grow in confidence, and the food table is abandoned.

I just finished an unfortunate phone conversation. It riled me up. Now what am I going to do? I snap open the fridge and start foraging. I am about to eat because I am mad. I grab the whole bunch of celery and masticate angrily to my heart's content. The need is met. A brisk walk might have been better, but no damage was done.

There's a pile of food on my plate. I am full but not finished. I pick up the fork and I am about to eat because I learned a bad habit. But wait! I put down the fork and remind myself that I am full. I save what I am comfortable with saving on my plate and remind myself that overeating is a worse habit than cleaning my plate. The challenge is met. Food is not finished.

My favorite dessert is sitting there making my mouth water. I just had a piece. There's still more. My body is telling me that my hunger is satisfied, but my love of good food keeps reminding me that it is still there. I am about to have a second helping. But wait! I remind myself that I get this dessert every now and then. Maybe I am the one who makes it. It will be back again another day. Maybe even as soon as tomorrow. More is not always better. Save it for another day and anticipate enjoying it. The second helping is reconsidered. The need is delayed. No damage done.

Last example, and this is the hardest. Sometimes there are deep emotional wounds that we have suffered in life. They will never be completely healed, because that healing may depend on other people's willingness to acknowledge hurting you and asking forgiveness. Maybe they can't, won't, or aren't even alive to do it. We eat to try and heal our past. It doesn't work. If this is us, we need professional help. Eating because of poor emotional health will only multiply the problems. It takes courage to face emotional wounds, and we must be willing to go through some emotional pain to realize some peace for that area of our lives. It may not heal completely, but we can reduce the gaping wound to a closed wound with a scar. I looked my emotional pain in the face. I don't need food to make myself feel valuable or lovable. It was hard. I don't use food as medicine for pain any more.

Oh, and by the way, one reason why I eat is because I'm hungry.

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