There's several things in this month's O magazine that pertain to overeating and overcoming overeating.
In the letters to the editor, one reader responded to Aimee Lee Ball' s article Losing Weight: The Mind Game from the previous month with this:
"We're all born knowing when to eat and when to stop. It's what gets in the way of that body wisdom that makes us overeat."
The things that trigger overeating are one thing. And then it becomes an unconscious habit. We block out how eating feels. We block out how full feels. We lose track of what hunger feels like and the pleasure in eating just the right things, in just the right amounts and just the right time.
This month Martha Beck writes about Secrets & Lies. There's something really funny about being an over eater. Some think they are keeping it a secret. Like people can't tell from their excess body fat that it's very likely they consume more calories than they burn off.
Someone once told me that the way to eat properly is to pretend you're always eating with a person you have complete love and respect for. Her example was the Queen of England but you can think of your own. Imagine that person is always watching you. Observing. Noticing every single thing you put into your body and where you are when you do it, and how you do it, and how hungry you truly are when you eat it.
It's that kind of self-awareness that is required to get back to eating naturally/intuitively. It's a moment by moment approach where you have to keep aware and not let the habit of eating without thinking and feeling continue to rule your days. But those of us who do all all overeating privately are kidding ourselves that we have the control to hide our inner most secrets. Overeating is a big fat secret we wear between our skin and muscles.
In a way, becoming an intuitive eater is like stopping a lie you tell yourself. And the lie is, that you need that excess food. That it can blot out feelings and experiences you don't think you're equipped to feel. When really, you're just overeating and it doesn't do your body or your life a bit of good (anymore). You don't really need that protection. You don't.
In Books That Made A Difference, actress Sarah Paulson recommends the book Rilke On Love and Other Difficulties by Rainer Maria Rilke. This line is quoted:
"You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves...."
Try to love the questions themselves. That's a key to stopping overeating: allowing yourself to feel things, without covering up or fleeing. Accepting emotional discomfort and trusting that it will teach and pass.
The interview of the month is with Bobby Kennedy Jr. This passage on addiction caught my attention:
Oprah: I think every addiction is a cover for an emotional wound. Bobby: I'm not sure if I agree with that. I don't know whether addiction is principally genetic, a result of an emotional injury, or a combination of both. But all that matters is what I do today. Insight doesn't cure the addict any more than insight cures diabetes. You may understand perfectly well how diabetes works, but if you don't take your insulin, you're dead. The same is true with addiction. It doesn't matter what got you there: it's how you conduct yourself today, day by day.
This got me thinking about books like Overcoming Overeating which to me is a book about putting out the fire but perhaps never really stopping the overeating. More about accepting oneself as one is.
To me, if you want to really stop overeating, the day by day, minute by minute approach has to be taken. And at first, it's going to seem like a diet of sorts because in each moment you have to ask, am I really physically hungry right now, and if so, what am I hungry for? And when you eat you have to ask when enough is enough, knowing that the Done Bell doesn't always go off right away. Sometimes the FULL message shows up a few minutes (or more) after the best last bite has been taken (and more after that).
Overcoming overeating is a conscious process. It's a mental diet of sorts. You stop paying attention, you overeat. You pay attention to what you eat, when, and why, and it's clear that the body doesn't not need or want nearly as much food as you've been giving it. Then you're faced with the decision: do you still want to go ahead and overeat? And you know it's ok if the answer is yes. You're just doing the best you can in this moment.
And, as Bobby Kennedy Jr. points out, awareness of the problem and its origins may be interesting or healing to know, but unless you now pay attention all the time to your eating habits, they won't change. Moment by moment.