Okay, so before you think I have totally gone off the deep end now, I will explain myself. I am big, big, big, into the idea, scratch that, no absolute conviction that to eat well for your life, you need to really know yourself. No, I am not talking deep, soulful existential, what kind of philosopher are you into kind of knowing yourself, we can get a bit more basic here. I am talking, know yourself like: Do you know when you are hungry or full? Tired or Sick? Do you know what you FEEL like eating most times? (Mushy, comfort food vs. crunchy salad? A heavy steak with fries for the salty taste vs. a lighter, fish and veggies meal?) Are you aware of the subtle gradations and shifts from starving to stuffed, or tired to sick from exhaustion? Okay, so we don’t have to get all navel gazing here, but I promise you that if you start to pay more attention to these feelings in your body, you will be able to eat more consciously, one of the cornerstones of eating well and staying at a weight that works right for your body.
So the other morning I am catching Joy Bauer on the Today Show. I love her, she is one of the most sensible nutritionists going. (Okay, I admit it, I am totally biased, she did fact check my chapter on nutrition for my book.) She was talking with Meredith Viera about diet tips for the New Year, if you are craving that sweet something to ‘close off’ the meal, (which of course happens for many) and she was giving suggestions, Mini Snickers, little chocolates, etc. Basically things that are about 30 calories. However, what got brought up was how for some people, this could just trigger them to eat those foods non stop, and Joy talked about how of course, you need to KNOW YOURSELF, and how this would affect you.
Like for me, I know that if I were to think of just having one of those 30 calorie Dove chocolates, and that that was all I could have, then I would be wanting about 15 more. That the only way I in fact don’t eat 15 is when I eradicate that thought that I might need to only eat one or two.
The only thing that has worked for me, is to in fact, always have as much of the foods I like on hand. In fact, if you saw my purse you would laugh at the bits and pieces of candy and chocolate, that I have, just in case, GOD FORBID, I ever feel hungry. I spent so many years as a dancer, on or off a diet, that when I left the dance world, I had to figure out how to eat normally. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry any more that I would lose my job over a few pounds; (whoever heard of firing their shrink for gaining weight?) so I got to ‘play around’ with eating the foods I always wanted to eat when I was not ‘dieting’. I certainly knew what I ended up doing if I told myself I had to stay away from a particular food, (I would want it more, and ultimately eat more of it than I even really wanted because of course I couldn’t have it ever ever again, or certainly the next day!)
In the process, I figured out what worked for me, what I FELT like eating. When I FELT like stopping because I felt DONE, AND SATED, and knowing that the food was still there, helped me to do this. Most importantly, it helped me stay CONSCIOUS. That helped me stay connected, to my body and the information I was getting from it.
The irony of eating this way for years now, (and doing pushups of course,) is that I am smaller than when I was a dancer. But more importantly, I enjoy eating and I know what works for me. This of course doesn’t work for everyone, and might work after a while of eating in a more structured way, and starting to be more conscious gradually, over time. Dipping into the diet world, from time to time if you need to. But, you gotta know what sets you up and how you end up behaving. If it doesn’t work, figure out why, not because you are failing, but why that doesn’t work for you. Try something else. Be flexible. Sometimes overeating is imperative and if you don’t let yourself do it, you set yourself up. Or if you do do it, you set yourself up.
So figure it out ‘from the inside’. Don’t let those experts tell you how to eat. I bet you know better. Even if you aren’t doing it. You still know and have all the information. Maybe you can figure out how “you eat what you are.” Happy thinking!