How EB Never Gives Up Hope That She Can Have the Body She Wants
- EB Changes the Tape: An inspired story of how positive thinking and re-framing situations might just help beat back the Fat Demons
- EB Tests Positive: A revealing story of how blood work can create brand new ways to obsess over one’s diet.
- EB Misses Bread: A hangry story of how eliminating 75% of foods on a normal diet can give you perspective….and drive you insane.
August to November
So I gave up on the gluten free, dairy free, 100-other-things-free plan. I followed it for almost 3 months and here is what I learned:
- I have, no doubt about it, a lactose intolerance.
- Eating your weight in protein does NOT curb carb cravings.
- I can be REALLY disciplined when I want to be.
In the end, I was so unhappy I just had to stop. It wasn’t the right plan or the right time for me. My issues with food go far deeper than any sensitivity testing could diagnose. To be honest, removing all of those foods and following the guidelines so strictly was MUCH easier than the work I really need to do. The mush. That part where I dive a little deeper into the “why” of it all. <shudder>
I do want to say that I soooo appreciate all the support I received from my wellness coach, Lindsay, and from friends and family while I made it impossible for us to dine together 😉 I ask for your continued support now, though, because this work…this is the real work.
What if I Just Ate Whatever I Wanted?
Because I’m bigger now then I have been in 10 years and I’m never long without a new strategy, I began meeting with a registered dietician (RD). Intuitive Eating is the name of the game now. The idea is that you not only pay attention to signs of hunger and fullness, but you respect them by eating when you are actually hungry and stopping when you are full and satiated.
Check out this website for more info.
It’s hard…tuning in to what my body really wants and needs. With my schedule, I eat at the same time whether I’m hungry or not, making it difficult to honor true hunger pangs. I often head them off before they happen because I have to eat by the clock instead of by natural signals of hunger.
My bigger challenge with this approach is the trust factor. I am not sure I have ever trusted my body to tell me what it needs. I have been dieting for so long, it’s never had a chance to. I have dictated every aspect of eating from a “follow this plan” perspective and never just eaten based on what I want.
To eat whatever I want is terrifying. According to my PhD student friend who edits these gems, that fear has a name. It’s called “choice paralysis” and it means that you are figuratively paralyzed at the thought of too much choice/freedom. Interesting. (Colleen, should this be a footnote? P.S. Thanks Dr. Galluzo!)
Convo between my RD and me:
- Me: So you’re telling me if I want a cheeseburger for lunch every day, I should have it?
- RD: In theory? Yes. Think about it. If you had a cheeseburger every day for lunch, how long would you still WANT that cheeseburger?
- Me: I don’t know. A week? I feel like eventually I’d want a salad or something after all that.
- RD: YES!!! Exactly. You’ve stifled what you actually want for so long that perhaps at first, when given cart blanche to eat anything you want you might overdo it. But you already know that after a while, your body would self-regulate and say, “Hey! I want a salad!”
But what if I gain 50 pounds while my body figures out how to “regulate?”
Which is why my I am working with my RD to set what a reasonable amount of food for me should be, what it consists of and how I’m feeling when I’m eating so my weight doesn’t balloon out of control.
But I still get to eat what I want. Including bread. And potatoes. WHITE potatoes. Crazy, right?
Exchanging Obsession for Intuition
“Exchanges” is the new key term in my life. Protein exchanges, starch (gasp) exchanges, fat, veggie, fruit, dairy exchanges. I am not worried about calories (ahem); rather I am focused on fueling for my daily activity with a varied, balanced diet. Now, that’s not to say my RD didn’t give me a few guidelines in terms of portions – though – I’m fairly certain that was for my sanity and not because she wanted me to stay within a particular calorie range. Go Kaleo (https://gokaleo.com/ ) is my current hero regarding reasonable thinking about food and a whole lotta other things. This pictorial sums up food sanity.
What I’ve learned so far:
- I was never truly listening to my body and eating when I was hungry, and more importantly stopping when I was full.
- It is hard, really hard to break the habit of “bad foods” vs. “good foods.”
- Bread, potatoes and corn are NOT the devil.
Mounds of Success
The most important part of this process for me has been learning to trust myself around food. I typically have very black and white thinking on this. If I eat something “bad,” I am bad. I have failed. I recently shared this from Go Kaleo on my Facebook page:
You binge. Then you heap abuse upon yourself for being so weak. Then you diet. Then you binge. Then you heap more abuse upon yourself. Then you diet. Then you binge. And so on and so forth.
It’s a cycle, and each stage of the cycle feeds into the others.
Most of us try to break the cycle at the binge stage. That usually doesn’t work.
You can break the cycle at the self-punishment stage, you know. Stop the hate. Stop the anger. Stop the abuse. Break the cycle. Once you break it, you can move on.
This is it. I mean, this is the nuts and bolts. It’s the exact behavior I have modeled for 20+ years and she just reduced the “solution” to a sound bite. And she’s right!
So last week, I’m in the middle of this cycle. I text my RD (she’s cool like that) and I say, “I want something sweet and I’m afraid I’ll stop somewhere on my way home and get something bad.” She calls me immediately (I told you, she’s cool like that) and we discuss an action plan.
I will go home, eat a small bowl of raisin brain (Yes, raisin bran. It’s delicious.) to curb the sweet craving and tide me over until dinner.
I’m in. I am 100% happy with this plan.
I pull into my neighborhood.
I’m about 30 seconds from home.
My phone rings. It’s my roommate, Jaime.
- Jaime: Boop? (that’s me) We need onion for the dinner recipe.
- Me: Ok, I’m still in the car. I’ll go to Safeway.
All. Hell. Breaks. Loose.
I am swarmed by thoughts.
“Now I can get something sweet.”
“It’s meant to be!”
“Don’t do this, you’ll regret it later.”
I head into Safeway. I grab an onion. And a box of Famous Amos cookies – my go-to sweet binge. Then I think, “I don’t want Famous Amos. I want Mounds.” And I put the box back, I walk down the aisle and grab a sleeve of Mounds (8 in the package), I check out, I get in my car and I eat two Mounds on my way home. I leave the rest in the car and head inside.
I felt awful about this. What a fail. I had a plan and didn’t follow it. I let myself down.
Later that week, I relayed this story to my RD. She all but jumped up and hugged me, she was so excited.
“Elizabeth! You listened to your body! You wanted something sweet. Not an emotional binge, just something sweet. So you put the cookies down and you got what you wanted. Then you ate TWO and put the rest away!!!! Don’t you see? This is a huge success!”
Oh. Huh. Yeah…she was right. I honored my body. BOOM.
And that was the start of a shift in thinking for me. I broke the self abuse cycle. I gave myself permission to allow gray into my life. It’s not just black = you can’t have this (and if you do you’re bad) and white = this is ok to eat (so eat it even if you don’t want it) anymore. There’s all kinds of gray and gray = everything is ok to eat if it’s what you really want and in moderation.
How many times did I eat a “black” food and then just throw my hands up and eat 10 times the amount because I already “blew it” and I might as well eat it all now so it’s gone and I won’t be tempted later? Um. A million. A million times.
But with gray….I can have a little. Because it’s not bad. And I can put it back because I know it’s ok for me to have a little again another time.
I know I’m not “cured,” but I have never felt this hopeful that I might be able to enjoy eating for real someday. I can actually visualize a dinner out without anxiety. And right now, in this minute while I’m typing away, I don’t even care if I never lose another pound. I’m THAT at peace right now.
(Ask me again in 5 minutes…)
I’ll keep plugging along because it’s what I do. I won’t give up. I deserve to have a healthy relationship with food and with my body so I will just keep working. I have to say, it does feel a little less daunting now.