This follows on from a previous post as I go through HAES.
The last chapter talks about writing an eating journal which involves evaluating how hungry/full you are before and after eating, and thinking about the mood you’re in.
I started this on Monday and have noted several things. For me this has been about starting to think about food rather than just eating it. I certainly didn’t realise that a silly little chart would make me think about all this.
I haven’t filled it in every day, was very very conscientious on Monday and then I lost the thread and wasn’t feeling very well on Wednesday/ Thursday.
Working from home means that I am a lot more flexible about when I eat, how often and what I eat. This means that for the most part I don’t wait until I’m starving and then stuff myself although there are times when I’m concentrating on work and just don’t get round to it. So I might well have a mid-morning and/or an early afternoon snack rather than trying to get from breakfast to lunch to dinner without eating in between (Weight Watchers mentality).
So I am thinking about the rhythm of meals. I note that I only want breakfast early in the morning if I’ve had an early dinner the night before. If I eat with the children in the evening and don’t snack afterwards, I’m hungry in the morning and eat breakfast with 4son. I am now listening for that hunger and having breakfast appropriately rather than trying to leave it until after the school run. This starts the day off.
I’m thinking about what to eat. Rather than do what my children do, which is go and open the fridge door, stare into it and think about food, I’m staying at my desk and deciding what I would like to eat. This means I’m listening to my internal cues rather than responding to the external cues of the contents of my fridge and cupboards. This morning I actually cooked bacon and eggs for 4son as requested and, having already decided I wanted cereal, I didn’t change my mind and join in with him, and didn’t feel I was missing out.
I’m also noticing something which I have tried reacting to before, which is that I have tended to go for food when I’m bored with sitting down. So now, when my mind starts to wander which is every 1-2 hours I get off my bum and go and play on the Wii for five, ten minutes or even up to half an hour. I’m not seeing this as exercise but as a wake up. It’s the physical equivalent of chucking cold water on your face to wake me up. It reminds me that I have a body and that I need to be physically active as well as mentally. I’m not thinking about it in terms of weight loss (“must do 20 minutes before you burn calories so anything less is wasted” – Exercise as part of weight loss diet mentality) or in terms of getting fit. I’m having fun and waking up my body instead. When I’m done, then if I’m still feeling hungry, rather than just refreshed, I’ll think about what I want to eat before going to the kitchen. Sometimes I eat, others the break is what I wanted and I can return to work. I’m also being a bit more active round the house, doing gardening and cleaning in 5 minute bursts rather than setting aside an hour or so which is more positive and means I resent that time, especially cleaning, less.
Now that I’m not doing school pick up I am using that time to prepare dinner so I’m not rushing it and have the time to think about it. We’re now in our second week of trying out new recipes and it does mean that I have the ingredients and only have to decide which one of the weekly selection I should cook. This means that dinner is on the table when everyone is home, that I don’t have to start cooking then. We’re not necessarily eating any earlier but we’re eating better and I tend to be hungry with them.
I’m still eating in front of the computer during the daytime but I am trying to savour it rather than just shovelling it in. I’m not ready for this step yet. Eating with the children, whether morning or evening, is done with conversation and/or Radio4 so I do think more about the food but I’m also focusing on conversation, children’s eating manners and, sometimes, not throttling them.
I still tend to finish my plateful but I am reducing the amount I put on it and pausing before thinking about seconds. I’m also making sure I have some carbs with every meal rather than seeing them as unnecessary stodge. I’m eating a bit more fruit although not enough. I’m trying to be more aware of fibre as I’m not eating enough, to make sure I’m bulking out meals a bit with fibre as with carbs so I’m not just eating 0-points food in Weight Watchers terminology with a bit of protein. If I’m feeling a bit over-full I’m going back on the Wii for 10 minutes before returning to my desk.
That’s all on a good day. I have noticed quite clearly how much easier it is for me to think, feel and be aware of food when I’m not tired, cranky or in a rush. When I have been I’ve cooked quick foods for the boys rather than good foods and I’ve similarly grabbed snacks rather than thinking about what I actually want. Some of these things I’ve been trying to alter or altering over the last few years but this chapter has really helped enable me to focus and concentrate on the small changes.
So I need to carry on putting me first, taking the time to cook, think, prepare food, make shopping lists and play on the Wii, let alone actually put my feet up and relax. I’m trying to condense work and to not take on so much, to be more relaxed about what I can’t do in a week and to try and set smaller targets. This is all about switching from thinking about tick box lists, work or target achievements and to think about what I need and what my body needs in terms of space and time for my internal needs rather than externally measurable goals. It’s also about rejecting my father’s Five and Ten Year Plans with respect to career and financial progress.
It’s about me.
Quotes are taken from “Health at Every Size” by Linda Bacon