FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
“AS FOR THE FUTURE, YOUR TASK IS NOT TO FORESEE IT BUT TO ENABLE IT.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I used to be a person who made “to do” lists that I carried around in a day planner which I would then look at often to remind myself where I wanted to be. However, as life took me on unexpected twists and turns, I abandoned my “to do” lists because I felt the future seemed so uncertain that I didn’t believe that I could actually plan for it. Much to my surprise, control freak that I was for a very long time, began to slowly ease up on my tight grip of trying to control how events turned out. I still don’t like surprises in almost anything but I have learned to “go with the flow”. If I end up someplace other than I had planned, I quickly “size up” the situation I am in and decide how I am going to deal with the immediate “here and now” knowing that what action I take will ultimately determine how the future is being shaped.
So, what does this have to do with emotional eating? Well, for me, it meant that I had to work more at acceptance of what “is” and letting go more of what “isn’t”. When I practice this I have more peace within my soul. When I have more peace within my soul, I have less need to fill in the blank spaces that exist there with extra food, “more stuff” and “being busy”.
By the way, I live with someone who does not accept life on life’s terms as easy as I have learned to do. I watch him get frustrated, resist what is going to happen whether he likes it or not, and ultimately wear himself out with all of the energy he has expended “swimming upstream”. I have a lot of compassion for him. Things could be so much easier for him “if only” he worked with life instead of against it.
Fear causes us to want to control and hold on tightly.
Worry means we feel we know the outcome before the process is completed and because of our demands we want it the way we want it, not how it might “best be”.
Trust causes us to relax and release whatever the Universe wants to bring to us and for us.
Patience allows us to wait while this “flow” moves through us, around us and in us.
I am reminded of a wonderful line in the movie “Out of Africa”. Meryl Streep’s character has been trying to mold the African wilderness to become a working tobacco farm. She even has a local river dammed and rerouted so that it will bring the necessary water to her farm. When Mother Nature washes out the dam and the river begins to flow its natural course, she sighs and says, “Let it have its own way as it always has.”
I don’t see this moment in the film as admitting defeat but more of accepting that some things just aren’t meant to be nor will never be. Some cynics would say “Mother Nature always wins.” I would like to say that Mother Nature is so perfect and complete that it doesn’t need to either “win or lose”, according to our arbitrary standards. It just simply is.
So, now all I plan for are the “intangibles” (but very real nonetheless) like loving more, forgiving more, experiencing more and believing more.
What has any of this got to do with arresting emotional eating? Everything! Think about it.
Summer of 2012 Food Plan:
1)3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit.
*why?–studies have shown that those people who make sure they eat these every day are more than likely to make better choices overall with their food plan. It also assures you that you are getting essential vitamins and minerals.
2) minimum of 64 oz of plain non-caloric water.
*why?–studies have shown that often times we think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty. Also, by making sure you have drank a minimum of 64 oz, you will also flush out any hidden sodium in foods you have eaten and it will aid in digestion and elimination. It also helps you deal with the summer temps since quite often we feel more hot simply because we are dehydrated.
3)3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day.
*why? Studies have shown that when we eat smaller meals we accomplish three things: we are exercising portion control which is critical in not only losing weight but also in maintaining the weight we have lost; we keep our body’s metabolism more actively using the fuel we have given it since it takes fuel to keep that fire burning; and it also keeps our blood glucose on an even keel which also aids in preventing binges due to erratic eating schedules and meal sizes.
4) eat within 2 hours upon awakening.
*why? studies have shown that those people who ate something for breakfast and did not miss this important meal did not overeat when it came time for the remaining meals of the day.
5) eat every 3-4 hours thereafter.
*why? again, studies have shown that eating smaller and more frequent meals stablizes our appetites and blood glucose. We are not ravenously hungry and therefore are less prone to binge.
6) no eating after 9 p.m.
*why? studies have shown that eating the majority of our calories during our waking hours allows us the opportunity to use that food as fuel for our everyday activities. Eating before we go to bed, unless it is doctor-advised, simply means that it will be only aiding in developing a late night need to nosh and added weight gain.[NB: exceptions are those people who are working a second or night shift. If you are, then you have to take this advice of meal spacing and do it in reverse. Need help, ask!]
7) no added sugar at all!
*why? added sugar in foods ends up creating the dreaded belly fat we all seem to get as we age. However, look around and you will notice that children and pre-teens are now showing more rounded middles than we did as kids. Where will added sugar be lurking? Cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, colas, condiments like ketchup and salad dressings, some yogurts and some microwave popcorn. Again, reading the food label in the store before you put it in your grocery cart will eliminate bringing it home and then having to stare it down where you are more prone to give in.
8) stay within the alloted calorie range for your weight, height, age and physical activity level.
*why? It is recommended that you do not go below 1200 calories unless by doctor’s orders. You need food for fuel and fuel is what keeps our metabolism running at its peak performance. The quality of calories count as well.
9) measure your food.
*why? studies have shown that if we are left to our own way of serving up portions we will always “underestimate” the amount of calories we are eating and the portion size. Since nutritionists and dieticians fought hard for the FDA to label clearly what we are ingesting, it is only smart to start utilizing this important piece of the weight loss puzzle. Follow the guidelines on the label as to what one portion size is. The way you will benefit will be on the scales. Most people who say they don’t eat that much are either unaware of how much they eat or they are eating high calorie foods (which usually come in smaller portions ironically.
10) record what you eat–everything!
*why? studies have shown that when people take the time to record what they eat they will become more aware of exactly how much they eat, what they are really eating but also how they eat. Overeating is a behavior and it is one that can change if we are willing to put in the time. Write down the time of day/night you are eating as well. Ideally, pre-plan your meals and write down what you will eat before you have eaten it. This will also serve to stop you from overeating once you begin to enjoy your meal/snack.
So, there is what you will be reporting on this 99 day challenge. Follow these points and you will see weight loss.
In our talks one on one, within a group like here, and especially to ourselves, our speech does a great job of identifying who we are, what we aspire to, what our fears, our hopes and our dreams are. Once I had this “revelation” decades ago, I literally stopped cold turkey ever talking to myself again in a negative, put-down or self-dergatory manner. I can attest to the fact that the direction that my life was going began to change after that as well.
Then, whenever I heard another person use negative talk towards themselves or others, depending on the circumstances, I “corrected” them gently but firmly. One of my favorite sayings to my husband, P, is “why put yourself down when you know the rest of the world is more than happy to?” If anything, it did make him pause a few minutes before continuing. Well, now P doesn’t put himself down quite as much but now he has resorted to hitting things so now I have to remind him that his hands are his “work” so if he breaks his hands, he won’t be working and well, you know the rest… this is a work in progress.
My sister has felt that the rest of the “crew” she works with (all men since she works in a very male-dominated field) thinks she is a “joke”. I have to wonder, what exactly is she doing or telling them for them to think or believe this? I am reminded of several different “sayings” that I tell myself and others.
**WE TEACH OTHERS HOW TO TREAT US!** (Now think for a minute or two on that one)
**NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL INFERIOR EXCEPT YOURSELF** (Eleanor Roosevelt said that one)
**WE BECOME WHAT WE BELIEVE**
I believe so strongly in the power of self-talk that I make sure that I am very careful about what I say to myself and also to others. I wasn’t always this way but as I became more aware of the power of “words” (Shakespeare said “THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD”)I have since learned to choose my words wisely (even in the heat of the moment).
So, today instead of counting calories, counting steps or miles, counting reps, etc…. how about beginning to count your words?? They carry a lot more weight and are definitely worth losing the wrong ones.
Here is how we will make choices that will support our goals:
**by what we dream
**by what we think
**by what we believe
**by what we ask for
**by what we are willing to receive
**by what we say
**by what we do
**by what we continue to do over and over again.
For all of who have said “this time I will do it”. Make good on your words.
Here is some thoughts to end a harried work week and start the weekend:
“DON’T LET LIFE DISCOURAGE YOU. EVERYONE WHO GOT WHERE HE IS HAD TO BEGIN WHERE HE WAS.” –Richard L Evans
What did I have to do to lose 50 lbs (thus far)and keep it off (thus far)? I had to get to know myself. You might be saying, but I do know myself. Do you? I often listen to others say things that just plain aren’t true about themselves. I hear words like “I can’t, I’m weak, I always fail, I give up, I quit, I will never…..”. Are these words really accurately describing the REAL YOU?
Think back about the things you did that you are the most proud of? When you accomplished those things, what words did you use to describe the moments after that? Did any of those words above enter into your telling of those “victories”? I doubt it.
So, here you have one additional task that is in front of you: you want to lose weight. Many of you are under the assumption that you will fail. Why? If you haven’t tried, how can you say that you have failed?
So, how about using these words to describe your weight loss efforts:
” I can lose all of this weight.”
“I am strong enough to do what it takes to lose this weight.”
“I am succeeding at losing weight by making choices that support this decision.”
“I will not give up until I have arrived at my goal weight. No matter what!”
” I am not a quitter except to only quit making excuses, quit complaining and quit procrastinating.”
“I am persistently and consistently reaching towards that goal weight and I will never give up acting upon my desires.”
“I am one day closer to realizing the miracle of rebirth and renewal based on my past and present choices I make.”
As a recovering emotional eater of 17 years with OA, I have learned a few things about myself during that time. When I attended 12 Step meetings on a regular basis, I used to introduce myself as having a tri-core addiction: bad relationships(codependency, compulsive spending and binge eating.) Wow! So, I have had my work cut out for me.
I am very pleased to say that through diligence and hard work, I am in a mutually happy and committed healthy relationship. In fact, this August we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. If you have heard of the saying, “You have to kiss a lot of toads before you find your Prince Charming”, well, then you know part of my “story”. Having a great marriage and relationship just “didn’t happen”. I am fortunate that I met a man who also believes that. He works on our relationship equally. Has it been easy? No! Has it been amazing? Yes! Has it been worth it? Absolutely.
There is a school of thought that life presents us with lessons which we are “destined” to learn until we Master them. I am inclined to agree with this based on my personal experience. Some may call this “karma”. Some may simply call it “life”.
As for food and money: these are works in progress. I have been in serious debt (try $65K or more) in the past on more than one occasion and I did not have the means (or I thought that I didn’t) to be able to see my way out of that thick forest. I have also been so deep into my compulsive eating that I didn’t know what true physical hunger was.
Presently, my finances are extremely restricted because we are living on one income and my husband is self-employed. Since I have been down this road before (more times than I care to admit), I have learned a few things about how to navigate through these “uncertain waters”.
So, where do you start to “tame these beasts”? You start exactly where you are at today.
First thing you do is clarify your situation. How “bad” is “bad”? Not being able to buy your favorite latte from across a busy coffee shop counter is not a “financial crisis”. It is an inconvenience but you will survive.
If you are having trouble paying your basic bills then you are where I have been.
1)Don’t panic. If you are in a state of heightened emotions you are usually more prone to make mistakes and sometimes these can be costly. For example, do not think that living on credit cards is a good idea. It isn’t because if your income takes a downturn and you don’t have any way of paying those monthly committments you will have two problems instead of one: endangering your credit and your peace of mind.
2)Live within your means. This sounds simple but for most of us who have been accustomed to filling up the “empty spaces in our soul” with “stuff”, whether it is material goods or extra food, this will turn out to be liberating at some point in our journey.
3) Go through your monthly “expenses” at least every 3-4 months. I have been doing this for several years and I still find things that I really don’t need and can live without. The final determination is that “expense” worth my peace of mind? If I can answer that truthfully with a “Yes”. If I can’t live with that expense and still have peace of mind, it goes.
4)Declutter your closets, your kitchen, your garage and most importantly your life. In the past 16 months, I have donated close to 2 dozen large lawn Hefty bags of large sized clothing and other “material stuff”. Surprisingly, my walk-in closet is still quite full. I plan on giving away every larger size as I continue to lose this extra weight. I am leaving no back door for me to regain that weight.
5)Do not “define” yourself by your “stuff”. This is really scary for those of us who like to “keep up with the Jones”. Initially, we will feel insecure and “unsettled” because then we will have to ask ourselves an important question (that we have been avoiding all along anyway)” Who am I really?”
How do you begin to take a handle on your finances? Start with these simple steps I have listed here. I have more to say on this topic but this is enough for now.
Here is what I am doing to bring this part of my life back within my reach of “control”.
1)Find the best pain medication regimen that will allow you to deal with most of the pain while having the least amount of health side effects. I have found that what once worked two years ago or even one year doesn’t work in the same way now. Right now, I am trying to avoid resorting to bio-logics (which are the ones that have very serious side effects like possible cancers and tubercolis. I want those to be the very last measure I take.
2) Guided relaxation, meditation and biofeedback. I can not emphasize how important this “overlooked” area is in handling ongoing and chronic pain. I try to spend at least 1 hour per day first thing in the morning doing relaxation and biofeedback techniques.
3)Find an exercise program that will allow you work “through” the pain as you cope with it. Although I have learned how to work “around” specific injuries, I have never really tried to work “through” pain. I am now learning that with yoga. I had heard about yoga being the “key” for the “lock” of arthritis a few years ago but having done yoga when I was a teen (and a hippie) I figured that my aging body would not be able to do the poses. I was so wrong! There are several excellent dvds and books out now for the older people so that, with props, we too can do yoga and receive the benefits of increased strength, endurance and flexibility; all which arthritis specifically is robbing me of in my body.
4)There are many “therapies” that you can do at home or have a professional do as well that are very beneficial for immediate relief of chronic pain: hydrotherapy (plain English: a hot bath or shower calms and sooths the nerves that scream for attention when in pain), deep tissue massage therapy (believe it or not, we can even learn to massage our own selves when we can’t grab someone else who will—I took a class on this long ago), chiropractors and even acupuncturists are skilled in dealing with sources of pain and ceasing their impact on our daily lives. Do not underestimate a good night’s sleep either. Granted, it is hard when you are in pain to sleep but when it has subsided make sure you get quality sleep. Having a rested body helps to deal with pain more effectively because it is stronger from the added rest stored in your tissues.
5) It goes without saying that “You are what you eat”. Although there is a lot of discussion and debate about the importance of the role food has regarding inflammation, there is one “truth” out there: our body is a living, breathing entity and it needs the proper nutrients for it to remain healthy and to repair itself when it is injured. So, it goes without saying, that you need to “feed your body” the kind of “fuel” that will make for “optimal performance”. You don’t see a hospital feeding its patients Twinkies and Ho-Hos to “get well” so neither should we think we can do that for very long and expect to have anything but disastrous results. I have found that significantly reducing added sodium and sugar in my food plan does impact the degree of my inflammation and therefore the pain I feel. This is still a theory in the medical community but more and more studies back this claim. I have found it to be personally true.
I hope that these 5 points will help all of you deal more effectively with the pain that you do experience so you don’t have to turn to extra food for a distraction and short term relief because we all know by now, food is not the answer. It never was and it never will be.