Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's Eating Me?

Last week in my diet meeting one of the women said she is constantly hungry even though she had eaten her meal and knew she wasn't really hungry.  She said, "I'm hungry here."  And she pointed to her heart.  It started a long conversation among us of why we eat even though we know we aren't physically hungry.  We are hungry for something else.  Or trying to fill up what we think we are missing.

I know for me, eating when I'm not physically hungry means I'm bored, lonely, feeling bad, or even just tired.  I'm trying to fill up a lack of love that I feel is missing from my life.  I'm trying to stuff feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.  I get that momentary high of sugar or carbs and then when it begins to wear off I look for my next fix.  And what's really bad is that half the time I'm not even aware of the food as I stuff it in.  I mindlessly watch tv or read and the next thing I know a package of cookies or bag of chips is gone and I have no recollection of tasting it.

When I was reading the book Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth yesterday there was a passage about being aware of our surroundings.  Of noticing the way food tastes, smells, and feels in our mouth.  Of learning our body well enough to know when we are truly hungry and to feel the feelings of being full without stuffing.  She compared this mindless eating to taking a walk through the forest with ear buds from an ipod in our ears so we don't truly hear the sounds of the wind rushing through the trees, leaves crumpling under our feet, the smells of the redwoods, or the birds chirping.  We miss out on life and the fullness of the joys of the experience.

During the diet meeting the doctor asked the woman if she wanted to start journaling her feelings to see if she could discover what   she was truly trying to feed.  The woman seemed very reluctant and said writing her feelings was hard for her.  I can relate because I have always had trouble expressing myself as well in a public forum.  Even if the public forum is only a journal for yourself.  But I have now found that blogging, like journaling, is a way of learning about ourselves.  It can be very empowering.

As I've continued on this diet journey I have started to really listen to my body for hunger pangs or why I'm eating at the time I am.  I'm trying to discover when I want to binge and why.  What is my mood at the time and what is happening externally in my world.  I'm trying to be more mindful and present as I eat.  To savor each bite and really taste the flavors of the food.  That way when I do go back to a more normal diet I won't immediately regain any weight I've lost and I will have learned more about healthy eating.  This diet has brought an unexpected bonus of changing my thought patterns and habits in ways I hadn't imagined.  Joylicious!

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