Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Happy Stomach

Have you ever noticed that when you aren't eating right, your digestive system seems unhappy? Maybe you feel bloated, or overly-full all the time, or perhaps you have heartburn or indigestion. Our stomachs and intestines were just not designed to handle the kinds of things we sometimes throw in there. Vegetables? Yes. Twinkies? Not so much. Oh, they handle the junk food, but we pay a price in energy. That sluggish feeling you get after a binge or a big indulgence is a sign that your body is unhappy with your eating. When you eat past the point of "just getting full," you tax your system and put stress on your body. That's why it affects your energy levels. And remember, you really are what you eat. Your body has to take whatever you put in there and use it to make new cells and repair old ones. When your heart is made of sausage McBiscuits, is it any wonder you feel lousy?

I have noticed that when I am eating off-plan, I tend to wander and scavenge. I'm not even hungry but I think, "what would be good to eat?" and I snack on lots of things until my stomach is full. As soon as I have digested enough to make a little room in there, I start eating again. That's why when I was morbidly obese, I could pack in 5 or 6 thousand calories a day, easily. When you eat a bunch of pizza for lunch and then 2 hours later you're eating a supersize Big Mac meal as a "snack" before having cookies and milk with your kids and then fried chicken for dinner, you KNOW you are never, ever letting your stomach get empty.

Are you scared of an empty stomach? Are you afraid that if that feeling of fullness goes away, you will be left with a feeling of emptiness? Maybe you already feel so empty, emotionally, that you just can't take one more bit of emptiness... so you keep the stomach full. If you find yourself munching late into the night, this could be part of the reason. When's the last time you felt your stomach growl? Think about it. You should be feeling your stomach grumble a little bit every day. I am not saying wait until you are famished to eat. I am saying, your body has a hunger signal for a reason. It lets you know when to EAT. Are you drowning your body's hunger signal under loads and loads of food?

After just one day of healthy eating, I woke up this morning feeling VERY different. My stomach was actually EMPTY when I got up, instead of being weighed down with stagnating crap from midnight that it was too tired to digest. My digestive system does not feel like it is full of bricks. Yes, it feels a little empty, but how about rephrasing that? It feels LIGHT. It feels healthy, well rested, and ready to digest what I put in there today. Even your stomach needs a break sometimes. Don't exhaust your stomach by keeping it working 24/7. Anyway, as I sat and sipped my morning tea, I noticed how much more relaxed my stomach is this morning. Almost like it's happy. "Whew, FINALLY this chick stopped eating and I could catch my breath and take a break!" Seriously. The stomach feels happy. I am going to respect it today by not overloading it and not putting a ton of chemicals in there.

As an added benefit, when you feel light, you have more energy. So give it a try. Let yourself get hungry today. For just one meal, try waiting until your stomach gurgles a little to let you know you need to eat. See how you feel. Does it bring up unpleasant emotions? Sit and be with those emotions. Feel them and try to understand them. Because you can't keep filling yourself with food forever.

My body is happy with the nutritious food I gave it yesterday, and this morning I am down to 229 pounds. The bloat is leaving, because I stopped the fast food and junk. Today will be another good day. For you, too!

11 comments:

spunkysuzi said...

I really like that saying " a light feeling " rather than an empty feeling!! I actually don't eat after dinner most days because i prefer my stomach lighter when i go to sleep ;)

Lisa said...

I love it when I can feel my stomach growl with hunger. I can stick to my diet for a long time but then I get sooo bored with it all that I honestly want to scream. My main problem is that I eat out of boredom. I go out to eat as entertainment. It's really a hard habit to break.

Alissa said...

Your words, as usual, resonate deeply with me. Especially the part about fearing hunger--those emotions that arise when I cannot stuff them down with food. But for today, I can treat myself right and hopefully wake up feeling better tomorrow morning just as you did today. Thank you!

Sheri said...

Lyn, I know all too well that feeling over being overstuffed and the sytem being over-taxed. I hate it. Usually it is a result of aimlessly stuffing food in without paying attention to get the feelings of full, other times I get the full, but still eat (emotionally driven I'm sure). I don't fear hunger pains, in fact, sometimes when they come there is a sense of relief. "Finally I feel hungry." like I haven't felt that way in so long. Hunger pains remind me that I haven't overeaten with more than a days worth of food, and in that I am pleased. They tell me there is hope to lose weight. The only time they create a state of anxiety is when I feel hungry and I know there is no grocery money. Then I want to eat even more.

Kaitlin said...

It does make me panic a bit to suddenly realize that I am ACTUALLY hungry. I try to realize that this does not signal immediate doom and avoid the desire to quelch the gurgles with a gigantic coffee shop muffin.

Heather said...

sooo true! whenever I overeat or eat something that is processed and full of junk, my body definitely pays me back. I feel so much better when I put things in it that it can use as fuel. however I rarely do let myself feel empty, I am constantly eating throughout the day so I am never starving. I think it helps keep my metabolism up

Andrea said...

You nailed it!

Hanlie said...

That is so true! Digestion uses a lot of energy, which is why we feel sluggish after large meals. One frees up so much energy by eating foods that digest easily and by not overeating.

You are doing great!

Ceres said...

Another great post :-) You're absolutely right. Sometimes, when I eat in restaurants, I can tell if the food was well-prepared by how my stomach feels afterwards. It's amazing how different the feeling is from place to place!

Shari said...

Hi Lyn,

Could not agree more. I am in a similar situation as you. I had a lot of success from August 07 to August 08 losing 30 pounds, but then due to a few events (vacation, work related stress) I gained most of the weight back in August and September of this year. I just could not stop eating out of control. I am back to healthy eating as of October 1 -- really want to get back to digesting between meals and being hungry for the next meal.

kilax said...

"Maybe you already feel so empty, emotionally, that you just can't take one more bit of emptiness... so you keep the stomach full."

What an amazing sentence. I think that sums up for me... what I have been trying to figure out about myself since I ever became conscious of my weight.

I will also scavenger for things, eating and eating, but not feeling emotionally full. I have cut back on it a lot, because I am starting to feel at peace with myself for once - but I have no idea how I got here.