“The more consistently you use hunger and satiety to guide your eating, the easier it will become to reach and maintain your natural weight without dieting.” –Michelle May, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat
As I said in my last post, I am reading up on understanding weight loss, and I’m starting with what goes on inside of us, our emotions, psyche, to cause us to continue to eat in a way that doesn’t support a healthy weight. I started by buying and now reading a book titled Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle by Michelle May. I am not finished reading this book, in fact, I am only a quarter of the way through the book, but it’s already eye-opening and I’m learning a lot. I already want to recommend it to you before I even finish. However, I will be writing more about this later when I finish the book, so if you want to wait till you hear more from me, just stay tuned.
I’m focusing in on one of the points that Michelle makes in her book: that we have forgotten what it’s like to be guided by our own feelings of hunger when it comes to eating, and hence, we no longer are able to maintain our healthy weight. She refers to our sense of hunger as an “innate tool” that can and should be used to manage our weight. Instead, we eat for a myriad of reasons, or, our personal triggers: stress, boredom, fear, anger, loneliness–the list goes on. She encourages her readers to do things (you have to read the book to find out what those things are) in order to relearn hunger and to let hunger be our eating compass instead of those personal triggers.
I know I eat for two main reasons–boredom and fear. I am sure you understand boredom. But fear? I have a fear of entrapment. Some people might call me a “free spirit”, and some might even say that’s an understatement. While I am relatively settled (especially compared to when I was, say, 20), I am still definitely a free spirit at heart. I don’t like to take on things that might “trap” me into a commitment that restricts my creative spirit. I NEED to be able to express, and for me, expression comes in the form of movement, voice and exploration. If I can’t physically MOVE, freely (yet with tact) voice my opinion and have time to explore, then I feel like my spirit is dying. When I feel I am in a position like that, anxiety comes upon me and I fear there is no way out. So then I want to eat. Comfort food.
You might look at me and think–”you don’t have a problem with food.” I’m not overweight. In fact, I’m quite fit. But, that doesn’t mean I eat perfectly, or for all the right reasons (i.e. hunger). My problem isn’t gaining weight though. My problem is the other effects foods have on me–health wise. I have irritable bowel syndrome and many of the foods I find comforting are also foods that irritate my stomach in a big way. Further, I am very susceptible to becoming sluggish, fatigued and exhausted, and when that happens, I go into depressed mode and have a hard time doing anything. It’s pertinent that I eat right for my body, mind and spirit. I do better than I used to years ago, but I know there’s much room for improvement.
There are a variety of things you can do to relearn hunger and allow it to be your food compass. But I think big changes require small steps. The first thing I intend to do is one of the things that Michelle suggests: be aware of it and ask before eating anything: “am I hungry?” One simple question. One small step to relearning hunger. I know I can do this much, and in fact have already begun. I am not trying to do anything else, but to just be aware of when I eat if I’m eating for hunger’s sake, or for some other reason. If my answer to that question is, “no, I’m not hungry.” For now, I am willing to decide to not eat and find something else to ease my fear or anxiety, or to say, “yeah, I’m not hungry but I’m going to eat anyway.”
It’s just one small step. A simple pause and a question before eating–”am I hungry?”
Doesn’t that seem like it would bring mindfulness to eating?
My hypothesis is that for now I will mostly continue to eat even if I am not hungry, BUT, I will become more aware of how often I do it, when I do it, and what exactly might be triggering those feelings. I might be surprised at what I find. And if you do it, you might be surprised as well.
Is this something you think you can do too?