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The Eat What I Want Weekend Experiment

Posted Sep 09 2011 10:01am

Tessa has done a fabulous job reviewing the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch…so good in fact, I downloaded it on my Kindle over the summer but was currently reading another novel, so put it on the back burner.

If you have seen any of the footage of the northeast, specifically central PA, you will know that many of us have been stranded in our homes, or worse, made to evacuate. With all the roads being closed, and a warning to eliminate all unnecessary driving, my butt has either been in a chair reading, tweeting, web-surfing, blogging, or watching TV. Now of course I did some chores and accomplished a few things on my to-do list, but I had been up since 4:00 a.m., thinking it was going to be a normal work day, which makes for some super long hours in one place.

At about 3 yesterday afternoon, when I was thinking what activity I could possibly do to entertain myself until bedtime, I remembered my old download on the e-reader. Since I have been struggling a bit dealing with my appetite, and have set some pretty-lofty goals lately, what better time than now to start reading!

As Tessa described, this book is designed for chronic dieters, who tend to yo-yo and either need to lose weight, or are just trying to maintain without overeating or self-hatred. I am NOT trying to lose weight AT ALL, just to make that clear, but I found many of the author’s principles were relevant to my situation.

Why? Well I am only 25% into the text but I can already tell there are a million words that mimic my thoughts. I will probably discuss them as they come up, but right now what really resonated with me was not honoring what my body wants.

Our society tends to label things as good or bad. I mean you might have seen those ridiculous commercials where a woman goes to the refrigerator, where a piece of cheesecake, and a light yogurt with the flavor of strawberry cheesecake are sitting side by side. The dialogue in her head is just insulting and goes something like, “…if I have the cheesecake I will have to run this many miles after work….if I have the yogurt then I am being good and wont blow my diet and can fit into my skinny jeans…”

Those aren’t the exact words, but they are pretty darn close, so its my assumption that many people face this “angel/devil” scenario on a pretty frequent basis. I know I do! And the last few rain-soaked days, have been no exception!

Between the long labor day weekend, and the unexpected two days off, leading into yet another weekend, I have had a lot of downtime at home. Normally I would welcome a few idle minutes with open arms (not too many but a few would be nice!) but because I was basically confined to my home, monotony played into many ED mind tricks and made me obsess over everything I put into my mouth, or wanted to put into my mouth, how much or how little I was exercising, and that I was being wayyyy too lazy for sitting so long.

The problems started when I couldn’t decide if I was actually hungry most of the day. Boredom can sometimes cloud that judgment, so of course I would obsess over whether or not I should eat, what I should eat, how much, and then look at the clock to see if it was an appropriate time for a meal or snack. Well, as the authors of Intuitive Eating proclaim, “Reality check: Our bodies do not punch time clocks; we do not suddenly turn off our need for energy.” Logically I know this, but sometimes it is hard to feel that way when you are jonesing for dinner at 4 PM!

Then, because I was cold, and it was damp, I really wanted something warm and comforting again…I.e. pasta with a nice crusty roll (what is it with me and these carbs lately?!) I thought, maybe I could just put some veggies in red-sauce, add a sprinkle of cheese and have a low-carb, low-calorie, cardboard tasting pita on the side.

No. That was not going to satisfy my craving for bread that was hard and crunchy on the outside but with a warm and doughy center (for this try Alexia brand Whole Grain dinner rolls !!!). Finally after about 30 minutes of going back and forth in my head as to who should win out, ED and the flatbread, or CJ and a reasonably portioned Italian deliciousness, I am proud to say the healthy side of me was triumphant and I had a very satisfying bowl of whole wheat noodles, a spoonful of low-fat ricotta and some fresh garden spinach and zucchini…all topped with some Garlic Gold , basil and crushed red pepper! I am so glad I made that decision as it was nutritious, delicious and totally hit the spot.

So today I can report I made a good selection, but there are more times than I would like to admit where my body will really want something and I will let my earlier intake dictate what I can have the rest of the day; meaning if I had a heavy lunch, forget making a proper meal for dinner. Or if I feel like I over-ate at breakfast, lunch may be a salad with vinegar, yogurt and a 90 calorie brownie.

This is no way to live, and is certainly not intuitively eating. The funny thing is, when I do give into my desire for things like nuts, peanut butter, etc. I often don’t crave them again until the next day, or at least a while later. If I go into eating something without the judgment that it is soooo bad and will make me gain 9435835098 pounds, then it usually means I consume less and feel more satisfied. The opposite is also true…if I let myself have peanut butter crackers, and am berating myself mid-chew, I might end up eating way more than intended because it’s as if my mind is saying “EAT THEM ALL NOW BECAUSE YOU CAN NEVER HAVE THEM AGAIN!!!”

Another thing I do, way too often, is I will be hungry for a dessert-like item, but decided I can‘t have it, and instead substitute something more “safe.” Let’s just use the example of cookies because they are probably my favorite “forbidden food,” and my mom decided to bring a bag of the Pepperidge Farm White Chocolate Macadamia Nut to leave in our pantry. I may want one of these after dinner., and if you have ever seen them you will know they are a totally normal size, only 130 calories (I shouldn’t care about this anyway!!!) so essentially a cookie I KNOW scientifically, would not make me expand exponentially at the table.

I might want that cookie soooo badly because it would be the perfect way to end the meal, but I will eat a bowl of strawberries thinking it will be a fine replacement. Don’t get me wrong, I love strawberries, and do enjoy them sometimes as a cap to meals, but if you/I want a cookie, strawberries are not the answer, nor will the squash the desire. Most people will end up eating the cookie a few hours, or minutes, after consuming the fruit because they did not listen to what their body actually wanted. And think about it, mathematically cookie+strawberries equals more calories (not a ton more, but more) than if I just would have had the cookie in the first place.

I know I already have a decent amount of goals I established in the last few weeks, but what’s one more! For this weekend I want to get better at listening to my body, eat exactly what it craves, and see how it goes. It’s not possible to gain THAT much weight in 2-3 days, and honestly at this point, I shouldn’t even care. More adventurous taste buds could also help with my version of the brown-bag challenge because I am going to bed they don’t always want salad! So who’s with me?! Eat What my Body Wants Weekend, anyone?!

What’s on your weekend agenda??

TGIF!


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