Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On Eating What I Want

A funny thing that I have noticed over the last five months of no-dieting, eating-what-I-want, is how much my mindset about food *and* my tastes seem to have changed. I've noticed this even more over the past month after reintroducing gluten; I've taken this new freedom from being gluten free and have eaten some of the things I kind of missed. But you know, it is weird: I sometimes eat something I thought I would really enjoy, but I don't. And I just set it aside and don't want it anymore. I don't do the thing I used to do where I would imagine how awesome a food is going to taste, then take a bite and it was not so great... disappointment... but keep on eating it to the last bite, waiting for that deliciousness I just *know* is waiting in that food somewhere. The next bite will be the amazing one! And then a week or a day or a month later I would crave that same crappy food again, because the last time I ate it I did not have the experience I was seeking.

For example, today I fried some battered mushrooms. This is a food I loved in my childhood. My Dad would take me out to this little homey restaurant and we would always get an appetizer of fried mushrooms. So of course, this is one of those foods that holds a lot of emotion and memories for me. In the past, I have ordered a lot of fried mushrooms and cooked a lot of them at home, too... some homemade, some from frozen. Today when I cooked some to go with my dinner, I only made a few. Even if they were great, I would not want to have more than a handful. But you know, I bit into them and they were just okay. They were fine but not anything special, and I set them aside and I knew, I just *knew* that the rest of the box was not going to be eaten by me. Because now, I eat what I enjoy, and I don't keep eating things that I don't really care for. The thing is, you have to learn to disengage the emotional attachment to certain foods, and view them on a logical basis. I have not been successful at this in the past... but I'm getting better.

This week was the anniversary of my father's death. I didn't even realize why I had chosen to bake a childhood favorite (Cranberry walnut bread) that he used to make, and then fry some mushrooms with dinner. But once I made the connection, I smiled and enjoyed the *memories.* I did not need to find the perfect fried mushrooms or eat 3 pieces of Cranberry bread in order to "re-experience" being with my Dad, re-live my childhood moments. No matter how perfect and tasty my bread turns out it is not going to BE the experience of eating it with my Dad. And even if I drove all the way across the United States and went back to that homey little restaurant and ordered those exact fried mushrooms, it would not BE the experience of sitting at that table with my father enjoying them together. What I have is not food... it is the memories. THAT is what I want to enjoy more than anything! There is nothing bad or wrong about me baking Dad's bread or cooking up some foods we enjoyed together, but it has to just be food, It can be a special food, but it isn't the original experience and I can't make it be so. Then when the mushrooms aren't so great, I am free to leave them, and *not* go on an obsessive week-long Quest for the perfect fried mushroom. I am not exaggerating :)

The other thing about eating what I want is that portions no longer have to be huge... or tiny... or measured. They can be a bite, a taste, a serving, two servings. I pay attention. And how much I initially put on my plate is dictated by two things: how healthy or unhealthy is it, and how much do I really want this? In the case of breakfast the other morning, I thought the French toast and sausages looked really good, and appealing! But it is not a very healthy choice, so I cut a small piece... half a slice if that... and put it on my plate with one sausage. I added a lot of fruit (because it is healthy and I like fruit) and a small glass of orange juice. This made a nice meal but the small portions *only* work for me when I am completely honest with myself that if I want more, I can go get seconds. Turns out it was enough and I didn't even want the juice after a sip. That's what I've been doing these past months... put a lot of healthy things I like on the plate and smaller portions of less healthy/more carby things I like on the plate. I don't always finish it and I sometimes go back for more. In this way I am honoring my body and not treating it like a criminal anymore.

I hope this feeling lasts. I really want this to work. I trust myself that if I am careful with those portions, stay relaxed about the food, and increase my activity (not at the gym, not doing stuff I dread or hate, but moving in ways that make me happy in real life) I will get healthier and lose weight. We're going to find out!


Kira said...

I love this. What you are doing sounds so freeing, and also respectful of your body and your appetite. I feel like the diet mentality is so punitive. You're wrong for craving "bad" food, and good if you can make yourself go hungry. It's crazy! And the reality of our bodies is so much more complicated.

Betsey C. said...

I love this post. Thanks, and a happy, healthy new year to you!

JM said...

I hope that this gives you some peace! I don t know if it would work for me, I have tried all sorts of things. I have lost and gained and i cannot eat any more chicken breast. Will be watching to see what happens. Do you have a good support network?

Lyn said...


I have good friends and a church family. I do have a couple of friends who I talk to about eating, diet, and health type stuff but not many. Blogging is a great support system too! I really enjoy the comments and emails from others who relate.

TheAgonyOfBeingFat said...

Happy New Year! May this be the best one yet.