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Adventures in IE (Intuitive Eating) or journey to eating like a toddler...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Okay, I'm an emotional eater. No big light bulb flash there. It didn't take my genius intellect to figure this one out. Every diet survey, magazine article and book has branded my forehead with a big EE for emotional eater. This is what's lead me to IE (Intuitive Eating). I want to break that emotional connection and let my body decide what it needs for fuel, not my emotions.

I've done a lot of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for my PTSD so it wasn't particularly difficult to see CBT as a potential tool against emotional eating. Not saying it's been super effective. The downfall to CBT is you have to see that urge to eat emotionally coming before it physiologically hits. Which means paying close attention to your emotions throughout the day. Something I've trained myself to ignore.

Let's face it, a lot of us overweight people have had to suppress our feelings to survive the hideous, self-righteous things people do to straighten us out. Like telling us we're fat is the one thing that's been holding us back from skinnydom. So it's not easy, this feeling everything. But I'm working on it. I've recently learned that it's near impossible to hold back that urge to stuff my face when an additional physiological hurdle is added, like exhaustion or extreme hunger. It's far easier, however, to not beat yourself up when you understand that you're not binging just because you're a wimp or you hate yourself. And that awareness allows you to plain for prevention.

So what I really wanted to write this blog today about was meal planning. I know. I know. This has already been a long blog and I haven't even gotten to my point! Just call me Babble Girl! I'm just hoping to set this up as an ongoing blog about my journey to IE.

Meal planning with Toddler Eating.

This is proving to be a challenge. I was thinking that with IE I should be going with the flow and figuring out what I want for dinner when the time comes. But I live with a man who starts his day with the question: What are we having for dinner? In his defense, he's trying to plan his day and his eating (he's trying to lose weight too), so if we need to go to the store we can get it done before I get tired (I have chronic pain so chronic fatigue is a constant). I've been doing well with this until yesterday. Or at least thought I had. I'd simply ponder what I 'felt like' for dinner and we've have a dinner plan. But yesterday I really didn't 'feel' like anything. As he ran through our normal options I realized that it was kinda impossible to figure out in advance. I then consulted my IE expert (toddler grandson, Chase) and realized he has no control over what he's served but simply chooses from the options provided.

Here's where the light bulb moment comes in. I have emotional connections with meals as a whole. Up until yesterday I'd simply choose one the our standard fav meals and we'd be done. But yesterday I found I've lost that ability. There were no meals that I craved. And that's the tip off. I haven't been meal planning intuitively, I've been meal planning emotionally by what I felt like. Now I know that sounds a bit crazy, 'cause most people do plan dinners that randomly. But it really made me confused. Frankly, it pissed me off. How was I ever going to eat like 'normal' people if every meal was charged emotionally for me.

For those who have never done IE, when you lose an emotional connection to a food it's a loss. For example cake used to be a danger food for me. I thought it was the best thing to eat on earth. I craved it constantly and it became a reward food. Any bad day could be fixed by cake. I believed there wasn't a cake out there I didn't love. So I went through the IE exercise of only eating cake. After a few days of cake eating, I no longer had the craving. Don't get me wrong. I still love cake. But now it has to be a perfect cake and one slice is enough. And that's sad. My emotional attachment to cake which 'fixed' any bad day I had, was gone. Completely. Poof! I eat cake now and the universe does not shift! Gotta admit, I'm still a little pissed that cake doesn't do that for me any more.

And that brings us back to yesterday. I was kinda mad that I didn't have a clue about dinner. I ended up picking tacos because one of my spark friends has Taco Tuesday and that's what came to mind. But it took me a long time to come up with tacos. I was completely overwhelmed to realize that this is going to get harder and harder.

I mean food is my friend. My dear friend. I look forward to that dinner I've chosen all through the day. And somehow tacos wasn't doing it for me.

I know. I know. Some of you are going Huh? And some of you are going Duh! The whole food is my friend is such a catch phrase but it's really hitting me how deep and complex this friendship is/was and I'm kinda fighting to hold on to it. I mean, will I never be excited all day because we're having tacos for dinner? My TE (toddler expert) loves cookies but he never gets excited over having one in his future. I'm sure there's a middle ground between craving and not caring but I'm realizing that for me, it's not going to be an easy journey to finding it. And as I get further and further into this journey I'm losing more and more attachments. Food has not just been my friend but my drug. Happiness has just been a bakery away.

So did tacos make me feel better last night? No, they didn't. And I was kinda upset about it because I love me a good taco and these tacos were really good. So I slowed down and did some deep breathing and tried to block out my feelings of loss and see if I could hear something else. And what I heard was a desire for more fresh stuff on my taco. I loved the lettuce but I kinda wanted less meat and maybe some crisp sprouts. I started to get excited but the second that happened I went deaf. The voice that was talking about more crunchy things disappeared. Did I even hear it to begin with?

I'm sure that voice will come back but until then I want to cling to the belief that while I might be losing the comfort food used to bring me I might be finding something that's more fun! Just maybe. I don't want to think about it too much or it might go away. I guess only time will tell. Then again, I could be completely nuts! And I'm perfectly fine with that!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • ZELLAZM
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts so clearly. Lately, I've been revisiting some of my earlier negative habits in relationship to food and these insights are really helpful. Continued success and growth to you!
    2425 days ago
  • FITNHEALTHYKAL
    Wow...:::thud::: ALL the expletives. Pat, you are brilliant. In my brain housing group I KNOW that rationally food is not my BFF but that doesn't stop me from embracing it and high fiving it and lusting after it for more than a nanosecond. Brilliant. Back to trying to figure out why I can't kick food to the curb and think of it as fuel and not a passionate love relationship. :::sigh::: Good thing we're not teammates anymore. You'd probably have to divorce me.


    2439 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14397710
    Some great insights here. Thanks for sharing.
    2440 days ago
  • JENSHAINES
    Well, I think you and I are nuts together, dear friend! What amazing lessons you're learning! I hope to be where you are soon... I'm most DEFINITELY an ee as you well know, but I'm working HARD on it right now. I'm going to send you some info about The Work, too - it's very close to CBT but writing based and it might be helpful. I'm trying exactly this kind of thing right now. Bummed that it took me so long to read this. It's brilliant - I think you should publish it somewhere. Many, many people would be delighted to read this. It gives HOPE.
    2442 days ago
  • EMSSBEARS
    This was a great blog I used to be an emotional eater and a still am at times but the more I have progressed through my journey I have found I have become less detached to food however I do have some trigger foods don't get me near Sweetart Jelly Beans-lol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on IE I need to reevaluate my relationship with food as I am nearing goal to make sure that I am paying close attention and maybe I don't have it under control just haven't been paying attention to it, thanks for bring this subject up.
    2445 days ago
  • LADYHYJINX
    Pat, thank you for sharing your insights. I can't express how much I relate and have learned from your experiences. There were many lightbulb moments for me, such as 'emotional meal planning' and overeating/food being my best friend.

    I'm feeling that sharing IE experiences is my reason for being led to Azure. I look forward to this adventure into self-discovery that we are taking together.

    Your words have deeply touched me,
    Lady Carol
    2445 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12024980
    Fascinating. I sometimes think I am an emotional eater, but food doesn't make the world better for me, it just is something I overdo if I am bored (or tired - I think we are all the same then)

    Have a great day
    2446 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8634484
    I never really thought before about the loss when a foodstuff no longer has the power to make our day! My 'goto' comfort food is mashed potato! And no, I don't get excited by it as I used to. I do still look forward to my meal though, especially if I've fasted the day before.
    2446 days ago
  • LUCYLU22
    I really connected with your blog today which is interesting because I don't consider myself an emotional eater, however, I am definitely too emotional about things that crop up in my life. Even though the food isn't always the first thing I turn to, however, food and I do have a relationship of sorts which brings me to why I connected so much. I am definitely going to need to pay more attention to my connection with food. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the subject of IE.
    2446 days ago
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