An Eat-Better Plan Birthed from Total Indulgence
OK … I’m fessing up! Yesterday was one of what I fondly call my “Eat-Days”. It began innocuously enough with half a Gluten-Free bagel spread thickly with low-fat cream cheese and almond butter half-half and a couple of cups of Hawaiian Hazelnut coffee. But I arrived at a often-stressful consulting job at 11am yesterday STARVING … and knew it wasn’t the emotional hunger I often feel when I enter this place. Sometimes I’m not hungry until dinner when I eat the same breakfast. And sometimes I’m ravenous at 10am. That’s the nature of REAL hunger.
I also walked into a veritable eating land-mine … a double-baby shower. Now the mostly-Asian nursing staff here LOVES to eat … they commune each lunch in the conference room to partake together for what seems like forever. So this opportunity was ripe with overindulgence. And it WAS! A combination of Italian and Chinese take-out. And, of course, double-cakes to boot. With nary a vegetable in sight!
I took everything! And ate it while I worked. Then returned for a goodly slice of the red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting from the local amazing bakery. Needless to say, I was stuffed!
There wasn’t a lot of work that day, so I left early and headed toward my favorite wine bar. I was only going to have a few tastings (only 3 ounces … not the whole magilla glass) and then go to the local street fair. But some old friends showed up, and after some lively conversation over MANY 3 and some whole-magilla tipples, I said goodbye and walked the whole length of the fair.
Driving home, I felt “hungry” (this time it was MUNCHIE-hunger … eating for reward or just-‘cause. And the wine didn’t help either). So I stopped for onion rings at Jack in the Box. Now I drive through fast food places maybe once every three months when I’m starving and there’s nothing else around. None of this was great for my gluten intolerance. Not to mention I’m sensitive to onions. Eating things you know might make you sick is yet another discussion for another day. I even finished off the evening with yet another portion of fried rice I’d made the day before. Talk about something I absolutely didn’t need and possibly didn’t want either!
But the upside of the whole day was that lolling in bed this am (it’s Saturday) a great daily practice suddenly struck me. One that, I’m sure, was inspired by my “Eat-Day” experience. So here it is … along with what I DIDN’T do to bring it about yesterday.
1. TALK to Jerri … or find your fullness in other ways … Jerri arrived the other day from her artist in Russia. If you don’t know about her, read the article here. Anyway, as I left the house yesterday, I just knew I should have taken her with me. Because it seems when she’s in the room … or even in the car … I do better with feeling my fullness. And stopping. If the idea of toting a doll around with you … or even drawing or finding a pic of someone who personifies your fullness doesn’t get you in touch with it … use the hunger scale … rating your fullness on a scale of 1 to 10 and stopping around a seven. Or try to feel it in your body (instructions to follow in another article). Feeling fullness is the key to stopping eating when you and your body don’t need or even WANT anymore.
2. PITCH the rest … I could have pitched half the plate yesterday. And not eaten the cake. Because I was already full with a few bites of the lasagna and the orange chicken. Yet I ate all the fried rice (it wasn’t a fig as good as mine) and everything else. And this morning, with Jerri in attendance, I pitched MOST of the meal I packed … and then forgot … yesterday because I was still full. If you feel guilty about pitching food, start by leaving a smidge over on your plate. Or storing what’s left. I know that children are starving in (name of country) but I invite you now to divorce the clean-plate club once and for all. My over-400-pound guy proudly told me once that he had left the packed-up portion of his dine-out meal on the table and walked away. Any way you pitch it, this subliminally tells your inner psyche that YOU’RE in control … not your food or childhood beliefs.
3. PLAN … I can’t imagine what my day would have been like if I would have brought that wonderful pre-planned food and eaten when I was hungry instead of waiting until starving and scarfing up everything in sight. I’ll never know. But today I filled out a meal planner pad that’s been hanging on my fridge FOREVER. I wrote in pencil because I’m a big advocate of eating what I’m craving. So I can change the plan any time I want. I also now know what I need to buy on my grocery trip today.
4. ASK … “What Do I Want” … I read this article years ago that described someone making a feast of French bread with butter for dinner. Because that’s all he wanted. And it stuck with me. If you don’t eat exactly what you want … or think you need a “balanced” meal … you’ll end up eating both it and the red velvet cake too. I know that’s what happened to me yesterday. I really wanted the beef, green beans, and fried rice that I packed. And might have avoided the cake if I had brought it to eat. I know this idea flies in the face of everything I learned in dietitian school about balanced meals. But I also know if you eat what you’re really craving that sometimes you’ll want French bread (Gluten-Free hopefully) and sometimes you’ll want broccoli. And that DEFINITELY falls under the category of “trusting your gut”.
5. SHUN Distractions … This is my hardest practice. Because I like to eat watching TV, Netflix, or reading. But if you turn off the TV (or stop working … another thing I should have done yesterday), take some meditation breaths, and subsequently slow down and eat mindfully … savoring every sight and taste … you’ll achieve a GREAT double-whammy of eating less while feeling more satisfied. And who wouldn’t want that? So pick a place to eat, who to eat with (you CAN eat mindfully with people so don’t think you have to do this all alone), breathe, and get ready to enjoy food like you never have before.
If you get my next eZine, I’ll send the “Tools on the Fly What I Eat” sheet attached to it where you can plan out your week as well as check off where you ate, if you ate mindfully without distractions, how you honored your fullness, and whether you pitched or stored what you didn’t eat. It’s a terrific way to shine a bright spotlight on your eating behaviors. Or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it right off to you. What are you “weighting” for?
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