There are two ideas that are kind of coalescing into a cohesive whole for me lately. They are:
1. I can trust myself to eat what I want, when I want, until I’m full.
2. Number 1 is a completely counter-culture, revolutionary statement.
I mean–who am I to eat what I want, when I want, when the vast majority of everyone I know is on a diet of some kind or another? Who am I, at 340 pounds, to not count calories or cut carbs? I’ve noticed some people taking my decision not to diet fairly personally.
My personal belief is that some people are so deeply engaged and invested in the obesity-as-epidemic mindset that they truly believe that nothing tastes as good as thin feels (or would feel, if they are serial diet failures like me.) Change is rarely easy, although it feel amazing sometimes once you give in to it.
It took me a little while to get into the swing of number one. I’m still working on it, although it’s recently become dramatically easier. Giving up my food journaling did that. At first I was afraid (I was petrified . . .) that not writing down every bite would mean that I wouldn’t be able to stop eating. That I’d wind up in a food coma surrounded by a sea of greasy napkins and empty candy wrappers.
Then I remembered–oh, yeah! I like Brussels sprouts. A lot. I also like sweet potatoes and fish and Indian food and oatmeal for breakfast and oranges.
In other words, I honestly enjoy a wide variety of foods. Turns out I don’t have some mystical food disease that makes me only want to eat gluten-free chocolate cake with strawberry filling and whipped cream frosting. The problem is that I’d restricted my cake intake to the point that my desire for it was escalated.
I mean, I’ve literally never had the thought that I better eat up as many Brussels sprouts as possible because I plan to never eat them again, EVER NEVER, after this one time.
In this post, the Fat Nutritionist (whose blog is amazing and should be read if you haven’t yet) talks about shifting from food rules that someone else has come up with (what you should or shouldn’t eat) to establishing a relationship with food where you think about how it makes you feel and basing your choices on that. She listed her how food observations. Here are some of mine:
I’m not hungry for at least an hour after waking up. This has a lot to do with years of unintentional misuse of my digestive system due to undiagnosed gluten intolerance. I really (really) like Greek yogurt, the full fat kind, with granola for breakfast. Some mornings, though, I want eggs. On those mornings, I almost always make them poached in spicy tomato sauce with feta cheese with corn tortillas. If I’m going to have a full on eggs/bacon/hash browns breakfast, I want it at a restaurant at a brunch time.
For years I thought I really liked cheese. And I do. But I’m finding that, once I’ve given myself full permission to eat my fill of it (instead of cutting and weighing out one ounce and wishing for more), I don’t want or need as much of it as I would have thought. I like strongly flavored cheese, like blue cheese or sharp cheddar, the most.
Too much dairy makes me feel mucusy and not good. I never drink milk by the glass.
I feel best if I eat a hearty lunch. This is the meal where I struggle the most with staying gluten-free as well. Especially if I let myself get too hungry. Sometimes I eat the guts of a sandwich with GF crackers or corn tortillas, but if I’m really hungry I get resentful about my choice not to eat food that makes me really sick. The everyone-else-gets-to-why-can’t-I mindset threatens at times like that. So I make a conscious effort not to let myself get too hungry in afternoon.
I could, of course, eat a sandwich if I wanted. I can eat whatever I want. I choose not to eat gluten because, while it is glorious going down, it makes me very ill.
I have a history of binge eating and letting myself graze, or just eat randomly rather than at meals, still can feel a little out of control to me. I’m working on this. It’s one of my HAES final frontiers.
I like sugar, a lot. Especially chocolate. Not dark chocolate, either. I like creamy, smooth, milk chocolate. I eat it when the mood strikes, which is often. I can not recall sugar ever making me feel strange or hyperactive in anyway, however I have noticed that there is a point where I’ve had enough. At that point, my body starts to crave protein.
When I’m on my period, I need chips and salsa to function happily. I had a lovely revelation yesterday that there is a definite delineation between eating enough chips and salsa to satisfy my body’s obvious desire for fat, salt and spice during this time of the month, and then continuing to eat them until I feel sick because I might as well since I’ve already gotten started.
I like spicy foods. They satisfy me in a way that blander foods don’t, usually. There are some blander foods that I really enjoy and identify as comfort foods. When I want one, the other will not do, no matter how much of it I eat.
I’m going to mention my delicate digestive system one more time and say that it performs better when I eat enough fiber, but not too much. A couple of pieces of fruit a day makes all the difference.
If I have a choice, I choose foods that do not have a lot of chemicals, preservatives and flavorings. One reason for this is because it is often harder to know if these kinds of highly-processed foods are gluten-free and they are rarely worth feeling sick over. Another is because I enjoy knowing what I’m putting in my mouth.
That being said, there are some foods for which there is no substitute. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups come to mind. Salt and Vinegar potato chips do as well. When I want these, I eat them without guilt or fear.
Eating is becoming a joy again. Food is slowly moving away from being my best friend or my worst enemy–and toward being just being food. Just. Food. Morally neutral food.
Food is morally neutral? There are no good or bad choices? There is no bad food?
I can eat enough of whatever I want to eat to be full, without shifting into guilt and binging?
Hell, yes. I’m ready to be a revolutionary. With a fork. And milk chocolate. Bring it on.