Monday, September 29, 2014

I Like to Eat

My last three posts were about my experiences with Binge Eating Disorder and the associated obsessive food thoughts and anxiety. Today I wanted to share another "eating problem" that I've had, that is *not* an eating disorder or anxiety issue... and that's the fact that I really like to eat yummy things.

Sound obvious? It's not, really. I find that sometimes people want to stick their issues in a box, name it, categorize it... maybe blame it a little bit. Sometimes when we have a difficult problem, like an eating disorder, it can be easy to just say "I am fat because I have this problem and it is out of my control." Indeed, as I mentioned before and elaborated on in the comments, mental health issues like eating disorders, OCD, anxiety and depression are not easily overcome, and can't just be changed by sheer willpower. Most of us are familiar with OCD in the form of obsessive hand washing. If a person is plagued by thoughts of germs and is compelled to wash their hands repeatedly until their skin is red and chapped, they're not going to suddenly stop doing it because someone says to them "hey, you are wrecking your skin. Quit doing that! The germs were washed off the first time. Get over it. Stop thinking about it and go do something else!" The same way, someone with BED who is eating so much that they are rapidly gaining weight and in danger of developing diabetes is not going to suddenly stop doing it because someone says to them "hey, you are wrecking your health. Quit eating so much! You don't need so much food. Get over it. Stop thinking about food and go do something else!" It is just not that simple.

I am not a mental health professional or a BED expert, but I do know the pain of feeling unable to change one's behaviors... unable to stop repeated thoughts. I know the helplessness of KNOWING that what you are doing makes no sense, and knowing you "should" stop, but being powerless to *make it stop.* But I also know the relief and joy of finally being freed from that kind of mental bondage.

I no longer binge. Now I am able to usually ignore and silence any obsessive food thoughts that do occur... but it took a long, long time for this to happen. More often than not, the "problem" with my eating lately is that I just want to eat something that tastes really good to me. Instead of a triggered, obsessive food thought like I would have in the past, I just have an idea like "boy, I would like to have pizza and chocolate chip cookies for dinner! Wouldn't that be good?" It doesn't repeat or harass. It's a normal food thought but it is for something that is not on my plan, or something not good for my health. And sometimes I just want to eat it anyway! So I do.

I think, but I don't know, that that is how most people decide what to eat most days, at least within the framework of what they have available to prepare or buy for their meals. A burger and fries sounds good so I have it. Or hey, I could make some enchiladas for dinner... that sounds good! That's how I used to decide what to cook for my family. It wasn't OMG I HAVE TO HAVE AN ENCHILADA!!!!!!! It just sounded yummy and it fit the bill for dinner. But when I started trying to lose weight, I had to start saying no to some of those foods, or making them in a healthier way. There is really no way for me to fit chocolate chip cookies into Paleo or Medifast or AIP, so I had to avoid them. And that, rather than obsessive thoughts or a drive to binge or 'trigger foods', is the thing I struggle with the most right now. (And really, it is a much better problem to have! Much easier to deal with than those other issues).

The way I have been working through this is to refocus my thoughts and desires onto foods that I like that *are* good for me and *are* on my plan. When I have that thought about wanting to make enchiladas, I go to my mental archives and pull out some meal plans for foods that I like that are AIP-compliant. For example, I kind of wanted lasagna for dinner tomorrow. But I really enjoy herb-seasoned, juicy pork sirloin roast! And I thoroughly enjoy roasted sweet potatoes, too. Fresh fruit is always a pleasure. With those thoughts in mind, I could easily plan a dinner I'd look forward to tomorrow, adding a green vegetable to round out the meal. There are so many good, healthy things I like that I can have on AIP, and by focusing on those foods instead of wishing for lasagna, I have meals I can be happy with that nourish me and my family.

I had to accept that I can eat delicious food without eating things that are harmful to me. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself for what I choose not to eat, and stop being a victim of my self-imposed dietary restrictions. Restrictions can be necessary, yes, but they can also be experienced as a blessing and not a punishment.

All of this has changed my life for the better. Instead of obsessing about food and wishing for specific things and wasting my days either fighting off cravings or going on a food run, I can put my energy into living life. Sure, I still have tough days sometimes. But it's much better than it used to be, and I am finding solutions that support my goals. I'll keep working at it for the rest of my life, for sure, but the rest of my life will be so much more *living* than *eating* because I refuse to go back to how it was before.


LHA said...

Excellent post, Lyn. I too have found that by concentrating on foods that I can eat and that are healthy I avoid wishing so much for foods that are just not going to work for me any more. There are a lot of wonderful foods that are healthy and can fit into any eating plan, but sometimes the ones we think of first are our old go-to foods that we always fixed for dinner. So, it is just a matter of working out a new go-to list and remembering what's on it.

I do still have an issue with when/how often/if ever to eat some of the foods that I truly love that aren't compatible with my newer way of eating. On the one hand, I have found over decades of weight loss efforts that too much deprivation usually leads to overeating or even binge eating for me. On the other hand, very rarely having a food that I love but is not good for me could (and sometimes does) trigger food cravings. It's the old, old dilemma that I haven't resolved. I am beginning to sort out which foods can be used a very rare thing without wrecking my every day eating and which foods just have to stay off limits forever. I guess everyone has to find their tolerance level for different ways of eating and figure out what they can live with successfully. Thanks for a very interesting post.

Connie C. said...

It sounds like you are really making progress in understanding the motivation behind what you eat.

David Dane said...

LYNN, do you pray... ? Do you ask God to help you with self control.
And, what's this guilt you are fighting with because you eat? You are eating.
That's it. Tell you what. It you are prone to eat, pray and ask for self control. Change what you eat. Pack in the green beans, and vegetables. Then pound down chicken, fish, protein powder, and eggs. In fact for breakfast eat about 5 eggs, and a couple strips of bacon. Start using a table spoon of coconut oil along with it. Get yourself a bottle of sugar free chewable vitamin C. Suck on those. Best to you...

LovelyDreams said...

I've loved your last few posts. I've noticed in my own weight history exactly what you're talking about. I've been at 200ish pounds most of my post-puberty life because I like to eat. But when I'm north of 230ish, I am in the throes of BED. I can cohabitate with liking food, but there's no real living with BED.

Rads said...

You have no idea how many people you help with these posts. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Lyn I have seen recipes for zucchini lasagne check out paleo websites :)