I’m still loving (and reading) this book by Michelle May, PhD., Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.
She writes about the difference between being in control and being in charge of your food and eating habits. According to her, being in “control” of your eating habits is all about rules. These rules can be the rules of the most popular diet that is prescribed by the most recent weight loss guru or they can be your own rules that you make up for yourself. On the other hand, being in charge means you have options. It means you get to decide. Michelle expands greatly on these options in her book, and I’m not going to go into them here, but I just wanted to write about this for a bit.
If you think about it, being “in control” in this way is only an illusion, because you have very little say over what you do when it comes to your eating habits. I’ve tried following diets before. It seems like your life has to revolve around them. When I’ve done a diet, I felt like I was always thinking about the food I just ate, the food I would eat at my next meal, and the food I would like to eat. I would feel like I had a good day if I followed the rules really well, and then feel like I had a bad day if I didn’t follow them so well.
As I said in my last post, I decided to take one step that Michelle mentioned in her book: to pause when I wanted something to eat, and simply ask myself, “am I hungry?” I have been doing that ever since, and it has been liberating. In that post, I wrote that asking that question was the only thing I was going to do differently. It didn’t mean I would decide not to eat if I answered it with a “no.” What has happened since then, though, is that I have been more mindful of my eating and my cravings. It has actually helped to take the desperation out of some of my cravings.
I know “desperation” is a potent word here, but, seriously, sometimes that is how it has felt for me. Like, oh my gosh, I just want something salty and crunchy, or something sweet and heavy to fill this…this….whatever “this” is. Have you ever felt like that? It’s crazy!! Let me tell you–I certainly don’t feel “in charge” OR in control when I’m feeling like that. But stopping and asking myself this question has actually relieved some of the desperation around those urges. Actually it has relieved a LOT of the desperation around those urges.
If my answer is “yes,” I’m hungry, then I think–ok, you really ARE hungry. That means you just need to satisfy a physical urge. You can do that with a healthy food item. You see, when I get hungry for real, even then I can feel that sense of desperation and then want to eat something heavy and fattening because I just want to fill that hole in my stomach. Like this:
(and that’s vegan, by the way)
But asking this question makes me know that I just need to put something in my stomach. I guess it has made me separate my true hunger feelings of desperation from my false “hunger” (or really, non-hunger, or emotional hunger) feelings of desperation. I have actually responded to this question by changing what I ate when I was hungry. I have not, however, responded by NOT eating when I had emotional hunger. I haven’t gotten that far yet.
But, what this has done for me is make me feel that sense of being “in charge” about how I eat. How liberating!! I have CHOICES! I’m in charge!
So, let me ask you–are you in charge of your eating habits, in control, or are you still just desperately seeking food? I can now say I’m in charge. If you are only in control, or if you are still just totally out of control, I challenge you to take that one simple step I took last week, and ask yourself “am I hungry” before you eat.