Monday, September 12, 2016

Damned If I Do (Part 1 of 2)

Did you know there are five steps to becoming an intuitive eater? I didn't either, until I started reading Intuitive Eating by  Evelyn Tribole. 

Intuitive Eating

This book gives me hope. So much hope for so many things that have been troubling me. I hope that I will eventually make peace with food, and will no longer be afraid of eating certain things, and that I will find healthy ways to cope with stress and emotions, and that I will rid myself forever from the diet mentality that has plagued me since about 8th grade. That's a tall order for one book to fill. An eternal optimist am I.

You might not realize it to look at me, but back in the day, when I was a senior in college, I was an outdoorsy granola girl who enjoyed rock climbing in the canyons of Utah. I KNOW! Crazy, right? 

Sometimes, when climbers are making an ascent, they will pause, wedging their fingers in a thin crevice of a rock wall, and supporting their body weight by standing on the tiniest of ledges, looking for their next move. If they stay too long in this position, they may experience a feeling called "frozen to the face." Doubts set in, unreasonable thoughts that there is no next move. They start to believe that there is nothing they can do that will help them get to the next step up. Muscles begin to cramp, and they may experience Bernina leg, when their legs start jiggling uncontrollably up and down, until they finally find their courage to make the next move. 

As far as eating goes, I feel like I am frozen to the face once again, just like when I was rock climbing. I know that I am doomed to failure if I try one more freaking diet, and that I am going to quickly overtake my previous all-time high body weight if I don't do SOMETHING soon. Damned if I do; damned if I don't. I have felt this way for months now.

After reading the first several chapters in Tribole's book, I realize I am waffling between the first two stages of intuitive eating, readiness and exploration. I'm almost ready; almost. I am experimenting with eating previously "forbidden" foods, and trying to tune in to my body's signals for hunger and satiety. 

Step 1 is READINESS, when we hit diet bottom, which is rock bottom for We of the Failed Diets. As Evelyn puts it, "Damned if you diet; damned if you don't." Going on a diet will set me up for failure, but ignoring my current upward trend in the weight department isn't doing me any favors. I just haven't known what to about my emotional eating.

Step 2 is EXPLORATION. This summer, I knew I really couldn't take on a new diet plan. Diets had always given me hope at the beginning, then I would lose a little weight, which was motivational for awhile, then I would finally give in to all of the cravings for the foods I'd been denying myself, ending the diet with a big old binge. Then I would gain back every ounce I lost, and then some. Ugh. So, no, no more diets. 

Knowledge-seeking became my goal this summer. I found articles and blogs by nutritionists and intuitive eating promoters. (For references, see the notes in Food for Thought.)I borrowed books from the library. I read and read and read. I started facing the music, emotionally-speaking. I forced myself to talk to Chuck about tough topics rather than just stuff uncomfortable feelings down with food. (Which is not to say I did not still seek solace in food; still working on that.) I put my scale away. I tried very hard not to make any food off-limits. I tried to enjoy foods I used to view as forbidden. If I wanted something, I ate it, and I worked very hard to keep the guilt at bay. There was just one clothes got tighter and tighter and tighter. Oops. 

I take some comfort in Tribole's words:

"If you have been using food emotionally, you may find that you will begin to feel your feelings and may experience discomfort, sadness, or even depression at times. Nutritional balance may be off, eating foods higher in fat and sugar during this time."
Well, yep, that's pretty much what I was doing. She was encouraging to us in saying that we try to make up for years of deprivation, negative self-talk, and guilt. She assures us that eating this way will not be the pattern that we will establish or want for a lifetime. Oh, I pray that is so.

My next goals are to distinguish between biological and emotional signals to eat. I need to honor my hunger, and learn to satisfy it with foods that will nourish me. I love this motto she suggests:

"If you don't love it, don't eat it, and if you love it, savor it." 

Note to self: If you love it, you don't have to eat ALL of it. Savor SOME. There will always be food available later. I seem to forget that sometimes.

That's my parting shot today. We'll look at the next three steps of intuitive eating in my next blog post, Damned If I Don't

Step 3 Crystallization
Step 4 Intuitive Eater Awakens
Step 5 Treasure the Pleasure

Progress Update: 
DATE NIGHT! Friday night started out
in Wheaton, and then we headed to Geneva.
Friday was date night for Chuck and me. We went to our favorite Italian restaurant, Chianti's in Geneva. Nestled in our romantic, little booth, we both do what we do; I ordered something I'd never had (Sausalito Tri-color Fettucine, and Chuck ordered his tried and true Chicken Oregano. But this time, I did something different. I ate until I was full, and I asked the waiter to box up the rest, so I wouldn't pick at it while Chuck finished eating. I didn't eat it all! Baby steps!

I loved it, and I savored it.
And then, because I promised myself to try to eat the one food I had denied myself for nearly two weeks, we walked over to Graham's, and we each ordered one scoop of our favorite ice cream. I savored it. I'm glad I ate it. And I didn't feel guilty about it. I didn't eat ice cream on Saturday or Sunday, so I think I can say that it didn't lead to a binge. Another baby step! Go, me!


  1. Way to go Denise! Baby steps indeed, but positive ones and you looks so happy.

    1. I am happy, Stella. But frustrated. I hope I can figure this out soon. Thank you so much for all of your support.


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