Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Counter-intuitive Eating

Eating in the last 24 hours has been pretty good, there's just a few things I still need to get my head round.  The biggest of those things is this:  it's ok to eat when you're hungry.

Years of upbringing and thought training had bought me to a place where at a mealtime you eat a meal, and snacking in between meals is bad.  Then there was a slight shift to eat a smaller meal at mealtime (hello portion control, nice to meet you) and plan some healthy snacks for morning and afternoon.  A step in the right direction in one way - by keeping my metabolism stoked and energy levels high, I'm far less likely to go crazy and eat what I shouldn't - but there's still a flaw in the plan:  meal planning like that assumes that my body will be want food at the prescribed times, and not in between.

Well, I got news for you:  my body does not always co-operate with that plan.  And so we finally move to plan c, which we've (well, I've) been talking about recently: eating when you're hungry.  And not eating when you're not hungry.

They call it intuitive eating, and I've noticed a few of you calling it that in the comments (whilst praising me - why thank you very much!).  For a lot of us though, and I am definitely including myself in this category, this approach is counter-intuitive eating - it's everything we've been taught not to do, all our lives.  I fight hard with the concept that if it's a meal-time and I'm not hungry then I don't necessarily have to eat.  Yet watch a slim person's habits (and I'm talking a life-time slim person, not a successful dieter), and they'll literally forget to eat.  Or they'll remember, and decide not to bother anyway.  It's a whole different approach.

The other thing that slim person will do, quite naturally, is eat.  WHEN.  THEY'RE.  HUNGRY.  Crucial point.  And you know what they'll not be doing whilst they eat?  Agonising over it.  Feeling guilty.  Questioning their food choice and whether they really needed it, or could have hung on, getting hungrier and hungrier, til their next appoined meal time.  I, on the other hand, have previously been guilty of all of the above.

So it's not intuitive eating for me - it's conscious eating.  Take yesterday for example.  I ate well during the day, went to my yoga class at lunch, and got hungry in the afternoon.  I didn't have any fruit to hand or anyway of getting any, so I had a two finger KitKat from the tuck drawer in the office.  Hardly going to break the bank on points, and in face was within my allowance, but I still felt a little guilty.  Then I worked late, and obviously got hungry again.  I grabbed a pack of Discos from the tuck drawer, because I needed to work and my hunger was distracting me from what I needed to complete before I could go home.  And besides, did I really want to get as hungry as I'd been a couple of times last week, when I was literally going hot and cold and sweating with it?  Not really.  But oh my God - the crisps took me over my allowance!!!  Shock horror!! Dismay!!  Oh just deal with it. 

The crisps kept me going til I got home, and could shove a pizza in the oven and half, with salad for tea.  Yes, crisps weren't the best choice, but under the circumstances of a busy office after hours, they were what was available, and the best thing in the tuck drawer in terms of points.  I just need to stop feeling guilt for being hungry at what my brain considers to me an inconvenient time.  And I need to stop feeling guilt for feeding my body when it's telling me it's physically in need of sustenance.

Good things to yesterday:  after tea, my thoughts automatically turned to dessert options.  As I sat on my heels looking in the fridge, I stopped and actually asked myself whether I was hungry still, and knew immediately that I wasn't.  The thoughts of dessert went away almost straight away - maybe it gets easier the longer you practice it?

Today, conversely, is a non-hungry day.  Having realised this morning that I forgot to pick up some more milk, I had to re-think my usual cereal / porridge options.  Bacon medallions, scrambled egg and mushrooms were piled on my plate, for a surprisingly surprisingly low 7 points, and they literally kept me completely full and satisfied until lunchtime and my lunchtime run was done.  And I'm remembered to restock on fruit today for better snacking this afternoon (if required!).

Things that make me happy today:  I've booked my next surf lesson at lunchtime today.  And two weeks off in August - whoop!

Discoveries from last night:  settling down to watch a film properly (no distractions from the internet, books,  magazines or my phone makes the evening pass much quicker.  And stops me pondering what I could eat.  And getting bored (I wonder if those last two are linked?).

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