Am I Eating Enough?
If you’re a binge eater or a food addict like me, you can relate to the picture above.
One of my favorite characters on TV used to be Doug Heffernan, on King of Queens. Some of the things he used to say about his love of eating cracked me up, mainly because I could relate.
Carrie: [Watching Doug mix his cereals] What are you doing?
Doug: Simple. I’m mixing my sweet Cocoa Krispies with the more sensible Rice Krispies. And what do you get? A healthier me.
Carrie: Or you could just have a piece of fruit.
Doug: Fruit? Why the hell do you gotta go there?
Or the classic episode where Doug changes his clothes before coming home from work to hide the “pre-dinner Whopper” smell. Doug’s struggles with his weight was one of the main motifs throughout the series.
You laugh so you don’t have to cry at yourself.
I’ve been there. But I’m on the road to recovery. The past few weeks have been interesting as I’ve gone through the several stages of what I call “food denial.” You know, those first few weeks when you’re grappling with the awful reality about changing your food choices and eating consciously? (As opposed to unconsciously…yes, it happens)
Food denial stages:
Denial – Oh I’m fine, I’m not hungry. A sprout sandwich with flaxseed sounds DELICIOUS…
Anger – WHY ME?? Who is to blame for making me want to get healthier? It’s all YOUR fault!
Bargaining – No, it’s ok…it’s ok. I’ll have a 20-count chicken nugget now and just go to the gym later….yeah, that’s it!
Depression – I can’t eat ANYTHING good….this diet is making me depressed. Life’s not worth living without brownies.
And then, of course, there’s Acceptance.
I think after four weeks, I’m starting to arrive at a good place now with acceptance. So good, in fact, I’ve had to question some of my eating habits over the last few weeks and ask myself, “Am I eating enough?” That’s a good spot to be in, I think.
One day last week, for example, I had eaten 1171 calories before dinner, and simply didn’t feel hungry. So I skipped dinner. That’s when I heard the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth of diet experts telling me if I don’t eat, my body will go into starvation mode.
But one of the things I’ve tried to work on is listening to my body. I listened, and my body was definitely telling me, “I’m good.” But I’ve only eaten 1100 calories!!! WARNING…WARNING….GOING 1300 CALORIES BELOW YOUR DAILY GOAL IS NOT DOCTOR APPROVED
So I did what any sensible blogger/Twitter-obsessed person would do: I turned to Twitter/the blogosphere for help, and reached out to one of my favorite health/nutrition bloggers (who happens to also be a registered dietitian): Katie Heddleston, of Healthy Heddleston.
I loved Katie’s advice. Here’s what she had to say:
I’m a huge fan of intuitive eating and helping people get in touch with their hunger signals again. The question you pose is an interesting one, because unless you were counting calories, you would have no idea that a deficit was being created (since you are feeling full – thus eating intuitively since you stopped eating when full)…
…So in short, yes it is okay to technically be under calories if you feel full. Counting calories can be helpful at times but can also make you go crazy sometimes – so it’s important to find what method works for you while listen listening to your body’s natural signals.
It’s interesting the things Katie pointed out about listening to your body and finding what method works well for you, because I recently also stumbled an awesome blog – One Lovely Run (giver her a follow on Twitter…@onelovelyrun) I connected so well with her post from a week or so ago when she talked about taking the time to actually listen to her body, rather than listening to what other people tell her about how much she should eat. In the process, she has actually increased her daily caloric intake while losing weight.
Kinda flies in the face of what you often hear about weight loss, huh?
But the point is this: I can only tell you what works for me. Jen can only tell you what works for you.
So when you have someone come to you (and you know they always come) and try to tell you what the “secret” is to weight loss, or what you’re doing wrong, or what you’re not doing quite right, remember that the one true expert to your own personal journey to fitness is YOU. More specifically, it’s your BODY.
Listen to what your body tells you.
Am I going to aim for 1100 calories a day in order to lose weight? No way. Are there going to be days where I eat like a madman because my body is begging me for fuel? You betcha.
After being out of touch with my body for so long, and allowing my cravings and my obsessions and my mild neuroses to rule my actions, it’s really nice to be getting back in touch with the healthy part of my brain, and getting back in touch with my body.
Now, excuse me while I go eat lunch. ‘Cause my body is telling me it’s hungry and it needs to be fed.