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Imperfect, Intuitive, and Illogical Eating (Overcoming Disordered Eating, Part Four)

Posted Nov 19 2013 6:16am

Shall we get back to my Behavior Change Journal for a bit?

Yes, yes we shall. :)

[To catch yourself up on this project for my theory class, check out the first  three posts on my journey to overcome disordered eating. And forgive me for the application of theory I decided I leave in here.]

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October 9, 2013

I’ve had a really good week.

But, if you looked at it in terms of goal attainment, it might not look so pretty:

  • I went almost a whole week with stickers on my calendar and then had one night where I ate too much and wasn’t even really hungry.
  • I tried to meal plan the first few days of last week, and then that fell apart and I was sort of retroactively filling in what I had eaten, and then this week began and I’ve yet to write down a single meal.
  • I ate the same dinner I said I wasn’t going to for multiple days in a row, just because I like it.
  • I went to lunch on Sunday and had barely eaten breakfast, and then wasn’t hungry until maybe 8:00 that night, so I didn’t eat. IMG_20131006_134243
  • I ended up eating breakfast long before I thought I would because I was super hungry, so three meals ended up more like four.
  • I got bored, so I ate some peanut butter.
  • Then I got bored again, and I made date paste.
  • I’m getting bored right now, so I might just go make something else.IMG_8317 (1024x683)

While all of these go against my specific action plan, they are—in my mind—signs that I’m actually reaching what should be my goal: not letting food define my life or my mindset.

This past week, I ate when I was hungry. I knew when I wasn’t hungry and ate anyway. I ate a giant lunch, and the world didn’t end. I ate too much at night, and then still ate again the next day (just maybe a little lighter on the granola and the nut butter). I had stomach and intestinal issues and learned my lesson. I ate vegetables when I wanted them and peanut butter when I wanted that. I ate salad and Greek yogurt with cereal for dinner a few nights in a row and that was OK, too. I made a batch of baked spaghetti and ate the whole thing in two days. While I still know pretty much exactly what I ate, I don’t know exactly how many calories it was. I knew when I probably could use a little more protein, or a few less carbs, but I tried not to worry about it. IMG_20130920_184145

What I’ve realized is that maybe I’m subconsciously striving for attainment of, the Intuitive Eating principles :

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace With Food
  4. Challenge “The Food Police”
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise –Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health

It is rather odd that the spread of Intuitive Eating falls so neatly into the concept of Diffusion of Innovations, considering the principles of IE are just, well, normal: something novel to get back to some place normal, a natural way of eating before people became so screwed up by what we should and shouldn’t eat, guilt about enjoying certain foods, exercising only to burn calories, and all sorts of other psychologically harmful ideas.

And yet, I’ve watched it be taken up by a number of bloggers, and the concepts and ideas diffused as though being able to eat ‘normally’ was an innovation.  

It’s highly observable in this context has made it attractive, as people who have found success in their cognitive adjustment as related to food tell of their struggles and promote the concept regularly. It is compatible with the desires of those—so many in the social media world—who have recognized their disordered norms for eating and want to change, but still hold on to their innate love of food; a healthier mindset and relationship with food quite clearly holds a relative advantage over the fixation on numbers, nutrients, and guilt. IMG_7404 (1024x683)

Because the ideas and principles are so public, Intuitive Eating is ‘trialable,’ although one may not get the more involved conceptual framework espoused when purchasing the book, or the personal and social support found in online programs which many have paid for and completed.

Perhaps ironically, it’s lack of seeming complexity is what makes it so appealing, but transitioning away from diet mentalities, restrained eating, binging behavior is—as should be obvious from my journal by now—far from simple.

Getting towards an intuitive eating mindset, if that is what we are to define as a healthy relationship with food (and exercise), involves cognitive restructuring that shouldn’t be difficult, but really, truly, is:

Fear, habit, comparison, judgment are all hurdles playing into the schema firmly entrenched in the way that I approach food, whether I’m consciously aware of them or not.

October 11, 2013

Well, I did it. I threw away food. It took me a few hours of waffling—not helped by the article I read in Women’s Health about food desserts and food waste and the intense levels of hunger in this country—but into the trash the crumbled up granola bars (masquerading as granola) had to go. IMG_5601 (1024x683)

Call it stimulus control in the Transtheoretical Model’s Processes of Change, or call it behavior modification through environmental manipulation, but I truly think it was more symbolic than anything else. The world didn’t end because I “wasted” something, and I symbolically proved to myself that I have control over the situation.

I’ve psychoanalyzed myself enough times to know that this difficulty with throwing food away did not come from needing to clean my plate as a child, never having enough to eat as a child, or anything like that. Yes, I hate food waste. Yes, I hate wasting money. But a lot of the food I have was free. (Thank you, blogging.) So while I can’t get rid of it, I also can’t get rid of it fast enough.

It’s almost like the quicker I can finish it, the less likely it will be there to tempt me.

Maybe the reason I haven’t really cared is that I eat really healthy stuff for the most part—granola, nut butter, grapes, watermelons: all foods that would most likely fall onto the Nutritional Santa’s ‘nice’ list (when not consumed in excess, of course). IMG_5692 (1024x683)

For the sake of relapse prevention, I have to get control of my environment, and that means reducing the foods that for God knows what reason make me want to eat with abandon.

Why is this concept so difficult for me?

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