I Didn’t Know How…

31 07 2010

You know what the weird thing about an eating disorder is? The mind set takes over, 1,000,000 % and makes you forget pretty much everything you once knew about how to eat. I don’t mean that you forget how to put a fork to your mouth or pick up a banana, but all of those internal cues? Gone. Hunger signals? Non-existent. Cravings? What cravings? And eating what your body wants? Ha! Everything becomes calculated. Calories are measured. Foods are chosen based on the lowest calorie content. Intuition is a thing of the past. These last few sentences were sort of boring, yes? That’s how an anorexic person’s eating is! Here’s what I didn’t and in some cases still don’t know how to do well when it comes to eating.

~ What do I want to eat? What am I hungry for? Often at this point, a couple of meal choices come to mind…sometimes a lot of choices. Then the struggle begins. I might think through what I’ve eaten so far that day to decide what food groups I might have had enough of, or possibly, not enough of. Perhaps exercise will come to mind…have I worked hard enough to eat ______? I try to take a deep breath and think “what do I WANT?” This is still a struggle.

~ How much do I want to eat? Ooooooh this is a biggie! I’ve become accustomed to eating pretty small portions. And to be honest, seeing a huge serving of almost anything but salad pretty much freaks me out. Badly. I think that fear of loosing control comes in there. Anywho, too often, I’ve told myself…forced myself…to stop eating before I actually had eaten enough. And when I served myself, I’d rarely put a normal on my plate. This too is improving, but still…it’s a work in progress.

~ When do I eat? So here’s the thing. I convinced myself that having a snack between meals is a bad thing…snacking leads to being overweight in each and every case. False. Now, almost every day, there’s a battle at about 4 in the afternoon between my rumbling tummy and that stupid, idiotic voice telling me that snacking makes you fat. Sheesh. Who knew eating could be so hard??

Here’s what happened to me when I started ignoring my body’s eating cues. For starters, it became easier and easier to override intuition in order to choose what I thought would be the best (and by best I mean healthiest) choice. I could go in to a restaurant and ignore the entire menu, except the soup / salad page. Boring, right? Yeah. Then, as I ignored hunger signals, they just quit showing up. So I wasn’t getting hungry as often, and when I did get hungry, I would choose super healthy things, then not let myself eat enough. You know what that spells? T-R-O-U-B-L-E!!!! Or in my case, loosing 15 pounds in 3 ½ months. Yikes. I adore analogies, so here’s one that I heard about ignoring hunger.

When a baby cries, what does any loving parent do? They go to the child, offering comfort and love. They try to figure out what’s wrong, and do something about it. If they can’t figure out the issue, they still console their child until the crying stops. By doing this, the child knows that when they call out, mom or dad will come to them and take care of them. But what if the child cries and no one comes? Day after day, when they need a diaper change, or a bottle, or even just a little lovin’, they are ignored. What happens? They quit trying. They become complacent and quiet; they withdraw and don’t even ask for anything anymore. It’s not worth being ignored.

So when your tummy rumbles, or you feel weak and shaky, what do you do? You feed yourself. You grab an apple, or a granola bar, or a burger…whatever sounds good that will quiet your hunger. You solve the problem. But what if you ignore it? For me, ignoring it meant that my body quit trying. It became tired of being ignored, so it just didn’t bother asking for food, unless it REALLY needed it, and I mean desperately. My body didn’t like being ignored, so it didn’t put itself in that position anymore.

The part about babies makes me think of my nephews when they were little and helpless. I would never abuse them like that. So why would I do that to myself?

Day by day, I’m learning how to eat like a normal person. I’m starting to pick up on hunger cues, and actually choose foods I want, even if it’s not the #1 healthiest pick. It’s all one little step at a time. Or as my good friends at Body Balance say, “One bite at a time.”

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