So in addition to eating local, organic food (see post below), I’ve also been trying to learn to eat intuitively. These are my own personal rules, which may or may not be in line with the “official” party line of Intuitive Eating. (I could go do more research, and eventually I probably will, but mostly right now I’m all about jumping in and THEN learning how to swim.)
1. First, remember that there are no good foods or bad foods. Period. End of discussion.
2. Eat what you want.
3. Eat it when you want it.
4. Eat until you’re done.
I thought a lot about this before I started trying to practice it. I had a lot of fears about, “What if I just never stop eating? What if I don’t eat anything but fettucine alfredo ever again? What if I eat so much that I gain 100 pounds and get FATFATFATFAT???”
So I went back and read some of what Kate Harding has to say on the matter, took a deep breath and started listening to what I wanted. Jumped into the abyss, so to speak. Well. That’s how it felt, anyway.
I actually had an experience where I sat down with a bag of chips and some M&Ms, all prepared for a binge. I ate a handful of chips, and some M&Ms, and then . . . I was just done. I sat there for 10 or 15 minutes, talking to myself:
“Are you sure you don’t want any more? ‘Cause you know, there are CHIPS! And M&MS!!”
“Nope, I really don’t want any more. I had some. I’m done.”
“But . . . but . . . are you SURE? Don’t forget: CHIPS! And M&MS!!”
“I’m sure. I had some. More of them doesn’t sound good.”
“WHA . . . ?????? FOR GOD’S SAKE WOMAN! THERE ARE CHIPS! AND M&MS!!!”
“What? I DON’T FREAKIN’ WANT ANY MORE! LEAVE ME ALONE, ALREADY!”
It was a fairly eye-opening experience, actually. I posted a little bit about the overall experience: realizing that I was eating a sandwich for lunch and maybe a bagel for breakfast. Sometimes eggs. More fruit than I’m used to eating, actually – just because it all sounds good at the time. I’ve eaten some chips and some chocolate, but ironically (or maybe predictably) not as much as I was eating when it was BAD FOOD. And my overall food consumption has decreased dramatically, and not because I’m “working at it,” unless by “it” you mean the 4 rules mentioned above.
But, then I made the Mistake. I got on the scale.
I hadn’t been weighing myself; I’d been eating what I wanted, when I wanted, and I was feeling damn good.
But then. I. Got. On. The. Scale.
You know what? I lost weight! I was so excited! Excited enough to think that if I just ate a little LESS of those “Bad foods” I could probably lose more weight! I mean, I KNOW they’re not really “bad” and all, but it’s a handy way of categorizing food, you know? After all, I was eating a lot more chicken and vegetables, right? And those foods help you lose weight, right? So that must mean that a “chicken and vegetable diet” would help me lose weight and KEEP IT OFF FOREVER, thus becoming [new link here!] perfect and thin!!!!
And of course, I got back ON the scale a couple of days later, and realized that I had GAINED IT BACK, PLUS 2 MORE POUNDS!! Oh, NO! And whatever I had left of my equilibrium went straight to Hell on the express train. (Because ya know, that gain had NOTHING to do with water retention from the pizza and beer I had with friends the night before. Nope. Nada, Zilch, Zippo. Huh-uh.)
So for the last several days, it’s been a battle with that voice in my head – the “not good enough” voice. I just ate a little tin of chicken salad because it’s 4:15, and even though I had lunch, I’m hungry. It wasn’t a big lunch. It was actually a pretty small lunch, and it’s totally understandable that I’m hungry now. But that voice – my god, it’s loud. I started getting hungry around 3:30, and kept thinking, “Just wait it out. Have another cup of tea, you’re going home at 5:00, you’ll be home by 6:00, and you can have a salad or something then. You had a big breakfast [actually, I didn’t – I had a medium-sized breakfast at 6:30 in the morning], just wait it out. If you wait it out that will be fewer calories consumed today, and eventually it all adds up – or down. Just wait it out.” And on and on and on.
Do you remember the Bible story about Jacob wrestling with the angel? (BTW, I always wondered: why the fuck was he wrestling with an ANGEL? Weren’t the angels supposed to be the good guys? I’m just sayin’.) That’s how it feels to wrestle with that voice: like being locked in mortal combat. And in a way, it is. In this case, I’m doing battle not only with my own history of disordered eating and misplaced moral values (because food, after all, is amoral), but also with societal values and expectations, which equate Thinness with Goodness.
In a very real way, walking down this mental and emotional path means unplugging from certain parts of the culture I live in. And while that’s good in principle – it builds character and strength and leads in the end to growth and development that is often spiritual in nature – it’s damned hard to do. Because when you leave behind things your culture considers “True,” the culture retaliates by kicking you out of the club (so to speak). People roll their eyes at you, dismiss you, communicate to you that because you think differently from them, you ARE different from them, and that’s BAD. “Conform, dammit!”
Then, when you realize that you no longer share the values of the people around you, and when you’re kicked out of the club, you are forced to move beyond the collective unconscious. You are forced to move beyond the tribal mindset in order to find your own two feet and your own path and your own Truth.
You are forced to take up your bed and walk.