lookingup

Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
pink

2.) Eat what you want.

These are my reading notes from Chapter 2 of Geneen Roth's Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating. My notes from Chapter 1 are here.

To recap, Chapter 1 advised us to eat when we're hungry. But that wasn't instruction to gorge ourselves on crazy food all the time; instead, it was instruction to learn how to recognize our body's authentic signs of hunger, and to learn how to eat with the intent of satisfying that bodily hunger (as opposed to all the emotional and other motivations we have for eating).

Chapter 2 deals with deciding what you actually want to eat, the underlying logic being that if we eat what we truly want to eat, then we're more apt to be satisfied and less inspired to overeat. Just like Chapter 1, this chapter is full of deep insight.

Roth begins by acknowledging that for compulsive eaters, it's scary to think about giving ourselves license to eat what we want because we think we want so much. We think that if we eat what we want, we'll never stop eating and become even more obese. She tells us that in the beginning of this exercise, we likely will eat too much. But once we start to figure out exactly what it is that we want to eat (and also how to eat when we're hungry and how to stop eating when we're full), then we'll naturally start wanting to eat healthier foods in healthier quantities. I'm convinced that this is true.

She also discusses the emotional reasons why we eat, and how the effects of lifelong dieting and depriving ourselves in order to lose weight have skewed our food outlook on the world. She confesses that she has really never felt like a normal person who could walk up to the counter and ask for an ice cream cone without feeling horribly guilty that she was falling off the wagon again. And she notes the effect this has on us emotionally. From page 20:
I could eat from morning till night for the next six months and I would have still dieted and binged for seventeen years of my life. There isn't enough food in the world to heal the isolation of those years. There isn't enough food to fill the space created by the deprivation and the ensuing feelings of craziness. We can't go back. We can't eat for all the times we didn't eat. We can use that pain as an indicator of what doesn't work. We don't have to deprive ourselves any longer. Beginning today.
Numerous other passages from this chapter stood out for me.
There is no end to wanting.

Trust develops and builds when I am given a choice (and not, as in dieting, denied it). Trust develops when I choose to make myself comfortable, not miserable, to take care of myself rather than hurt myself.

Trust develops when you learn from actual experience that you can decide which desires to act upon and which you will leave to fantasy.

There is no end to wanting.

It is in the nature of our minds to want what promises satisfaction. There is nothin unusual or untrustworthy about that. What's is unusual is that we're taught that because we want, there must be something wrong and we have to watch ourselves vigilantly.

When you decide to eat and then decide what you will eat, the first question to ask yourself is, "Where is the desire to eat coming from?" The second question is, "Where is the desire for this particular food coming from?" If the answer to the first question is that you are hungry, you might now examine the steps you can take in choosing to eat a particular food at a particular time.

Forget about calories. If you don't want it and you eat it, you won't be satisfied. If you want lasagna and you eat a hard-boiled egg instead, chances are you'll end up eating two or three times the calories you would have (i.e. by grazing or bingeing on anything other than lasagna for the next couple hours) than you would have had you begun with the lasagna.

Diets do not give you the option of eating frozen peas and mashed potatoes when you are lonely. Diets, based on caloric consumption, do not leave room for being lonely. Or sad or angry or joyful. Diets exclude our psychological and emotional needs by assuming that we are going to feel the same way about ourselves, our relationships, our lives, on day one as on day six. Diets exclude all feelings except for those of wanting to be thin. Diets remove from us one of the few characteristics that distinguishes us from other animals -- choice.
The gist of what she's saying is that if we learn to trust our own true inner voice about our hunger and what we want to eat, then we'll naturally start choosing normal foods to eat in normal quantities. But compulsive eaters (and frequent dieters) are so out of touch with what they want to eat at any given time that they're usually eating too much, too often. Learning to listen to that true inner voice will fix that tendency. But we have to learn how to trust it.
As long as there are foods you feel you shouldn't eat, you create struggle and conflict. As long as there is struggle, there is bingeing. And as long as there is bingeing, there is fear about eating what you want.

When you let go of the struggle by allowing yourself choice about what you eat, you let go of one end of the rope on which you have been tugging and straining. When you let go of your side, the rope immediately falls to the ground. When you decide that you will listen to yourself and not to your calorie-counter or your fears, there is nothing to rebel against. There is nothing you can't have tomorrow so there is no reason to eat it all today.

When you eat what you want, when you drop the rope and end the struggle between right foods and wrong foods, you will eventually (after your first tendency to eat more than you truly want) consume fewer calories than you did when you were guided by caloric content.
Roth goes on from here to discuss various logistical concerns with eating out and such, as well as more of the emotional underpinnings of the issue -- especially those related to your own expectations and personal outlook on life.
Whenever you notice yourself planning meals around what you should or shouldn't eat, or even around what you might want to eat, you are creating a set of expectations for yourself, which, if you don't meet them, will evoke the familiar feeling of weight-related failure.

As compulsive eaters, we spend our lives forsaking all the moments of satisfaction for a future moment when we will be thin and the deprivation will have paid off. And if and when that moment does come, we are so worried about gaining weight that we focus our attention once more on the future and do not take pleasure in the present.

Breaking free from compulsive eating is also breaking free from preoccupation with the future.
When one women in her workshop asked, "Isn't eating sugar all the time terrible for you?" Roth responds,
Yes. And no. Eating salads and vegetables under restraint and bingeing on sugar whenever you have the chance is not particularly healthy. Sneaking, hiding, or lying about food is not healthy. Punishing yourself is not healthy.
Hear hear, sista. The next chapter is called Distracted Eating: It Doesn't Count If You're Not Sitting Down. Can't wait to read it.

?

Log in

No account? Create an account