Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What it means to me: Eating Guideline #1 Eat when hungry

When I first read Geneen Roth's Women Food and God last July, I was very excited. It was all I could talk about. I was about three fourths of the way through the book when I read about the Eating Guidelines.

I couldn't wait to read the "Eating Guidelines". So I skipped ahead to page 111, eagerly reading what I just knew would change my life.

Guideline #1 - Eat when hungry.

What the hell? I was angry. Furious at this Geneen Roth woman. She must be a freaking idiot to write such nonsense. Eat when hungry? Seriously? Excuse me lady, but that's what got me up to 240 pounds. If I had kept eating when I was hungry, in a few years I would weigh five hundred pounds. I'd become a bed person and they'd have to cut down the walls to get me out of my house. Eating when hungry? Who would think of such foolishness?

I felt like I'd been scammed. Cheated. I was hungry 24 x 7. I thought of food continually. If I really ate when I was hungry, I'd never put down my fork. So much for Geneen Roth. I was done with her.

Then there was the workshop. You have no idea how much I didn't want to go last weekend. I was dreading it. Thankfully Grace decided to go too. If it hadn't been for her I may have just not showed up, and then I would have missed one of the best learning experiences of my life.

Eat when hungry.

What does that mean? Sounds pretty obvious, if you're hungry, you eat. Not exactly rocket science. But wait. There's more. When are you hungry? Do you even know? I didn't. I thought I was always hungry. I thought I had some type of mental or physical disease. Most people don't obsess about food like me. It's like there was something wired wrong in my brain, something that made me think I always needed to eat.

After the workshop I started to really analyze my feelings of hunger. Was I really hungry? Or was it something else?

Maybe I was hurt because my husband said something insensitive, or he left for work without a goodbye kiss, just a "bye, see you later!" as he ran out the door.

Maybe it was worry about my job and that stupid NY Times article about if you're unemployed now at age 55 you'll probably never work again.

Maybe it's rejection, lack of love, fear of being homeless...maybe it's none of those things, maybe I'm just thirsty or bored.

I remember once I told a coworker that I was starving to death. I was being super strict with my diet (Weight Watchers), and I was really hungry. His comment was "well, eat something!". My response, "I can't do that! I might gain weight!".

Stupid, stupid girl. I really was hungry. Why didn't I just eat? Because I was afraid of gaining weight. It's been my lifelong theme.

I'm coming to terms with the idea of eating when I'm actually hungry. What's harder is coming to terms when it's something else and that something isn't thirsty or bored. What about rejection? Or the feeling of not being loved and cherished? Loneliness. Sadness. Past hurts. Current hurts. Fear. Feeling those emotions isn't fun. It would be easier to push them down with food. It's easier to just not think about the bad stuff.

The thing I'm most amazed about is that this isn't the hardest guideline for me, although it's somewhat difficult facing all those emotions I use to smash down with food. I was sure it was going to be impossible. I was sure I'd want to go on a full out binge. Surprisingly I really have no desire to eat like a crazed, food obsessed mad woman.

For the first time in 42 years, I think I know what it's like to eat like a normal person. Normal has always been my goal. I just want to feel normal about food, and I want to be a normal weight.

I'm still early into this process, and I have a lot to learn about myself. It's only been five days and I'm sure there will be bumps in the road. I only know that in a short time I've made huge advances in how I feel about food, about myself. I feel more comfortable with my decisions of what I'm eating, more relaxed. Calm.

Eat when hungry. Apparently it is possible for me.


Alan (Pounds Off Playoff) said...

I really like how you think aloud about your journey. I'm curious how this will work for you, and look forward to reading your thoughts, which you articulate so well.

Anonymous said...

Eating when hungry? Scary thought, especially since my mind has decided that everything equals hunger. Sorting out what is genuine physical hunger from emotional hunger has been my life's work. Sounds like you are on a really good path. Jo

Helen said...

What a coincidence - both you and Miz have "what it means" posts up today.

I have another friend who thought Geneen Roth's book was OK. Then she attended her workshop and came back fired up! Sounds like the same has happened for you.

Glad you're figuring it all out.