Thursday, January 19, 2012

Food Rules

Yesterday before dinner, I did something I haven't done in my adult life:  I weighed 109 pounds. No, I am not trying to brag or fish for comments and flattery about being skinny.  But I couldn't help feeling so proud of myself!  I feel like in the past few months (although a struggle they have certainly been), I have really come into my own.  I'm feeling better about what I'm putting into my body and what kind of work my body has been putting out.  I'm in my prime and feelin' good.

Can you feel the "BUT" coming???  I'm in my prime and feelin' good UNTIL...I ate an extra piece of toast today at breakfast.  UNTIL...I found myself eating multiple metabo-meals at once.  UNTIL...I came home after that and ate heaping handfuls of nuts.  UNTIL...I tried to eat dinner as usual and am writing this as I sit uncomfortably full and unhappy with myself.

My first week or so here, my body loved the gourmet food and I had no trouble with 1200 calories a day.  Around the middle of week 2, however, my "food brain" started talking to me.  I found myself adding a few extra sprinkles of granola in the morning and having peanut butter with my afternoon snack.  My food brain was trying to buck the system I wanted it to be on.  Since then, I have tried to stay the course and fight off the food thoughts, but today was an absolute takeover by my food brain.  It made me think of the concept of food rules that are discussed here at H3 quite often (check out Michael Pollan's book on food rules).  These are, quite simply, rules about how, when, why, and what you will or won't eat.  My rule was to adhere to the H3 meal plan as much as possible.  Today, I not only justified some of the snacks I was having ("It's just a box of raisins and I need fuel"), I flat out ignored my logical brain and didn't address what I did.  But now I am. I'm coming clean and attempting to get to the bottom of why my food brain is trying to take over.  Food thoughts are usually triggered by an event or underlying emotion.  I'm in a new place.  I'm used to living more or less alone and dictating my schedule.  I'm undertaking new responsibilities.  My academic career is coming to an end for real this time.

These aren't excuses.  They're realizations.  I know that I can be stronger than my food brain -- I just have to understand why it's acting up and stand strong in my food rules.  We also talk a lot here about intuitive eating -- understanding the difference between hunger and appetite and only eating when your body needs it.  Essentially, eat to live -- not the other way around.  Think about food as fuel. Food as a necessity.  What if you had to report to someone every thing you ate?  Would you want to tell them about the candy bar you snagged immediately after dinner because you enjoyed the sensation?  Or would you rather be happy knowing you are satisfied and healthy?

Don't let yourself off the hook.  Be accountable for your actions, but let each one serve as a learning experience and move forward.  After all, nobody gets it 100% right 100% of the time.

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