Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thoughts On Food At 3am

It's nearly 3am.  I haven't been to bed yet.  Well technically I stole an hour or so on the couch earlier tonight but that wasn't on purpose so it doesn't count.

Family is here this weekend, and tonight I cooked a big roast chicken dinner with plenty of fixin's.  I ate too much (of course) and now I'm sitting here with post-cauliflower-and-white-sauce-with-bacon-bits bloat wondering if I'm ever going to get to the point with food where I learn what my body needs to function at its best.  This has nothing to do with diet mumbo-jumbo - it's more about learning to respect food again and the practical role it plays in my life.

Because I don't know about you, but food isn't always just food to me anymore.  Sometimes its comfort.  Sometimes love.  Sometimes even anger or frustration.  Which is completely screwed up.

Food's just food, right? Just a means to get energy into your body so you don't keel over and die?  Well sure, on a practical level.  But then you add processing and sugar and fat and convenience and deliciousness into the mix and before you know it you're eating out of habit, or because you like the way a flavour sits in your mouth, or because it's 6:00pm and that's when dinner is served, hunger be damned.  It really is a backwards system when you think about it.

I've never been able to 'let my body tell me it's time to eat'.  If I was fully trusting of my body's natural ability to regulate it's own hunger then I probably wouldn't be sitting here 25 kgs overweight!  I know when I'm eating more on the healthy side of the fence I'm hungry more during the day than I am when I allow the horse to bolt on my bad food habits.  When I'm controlling my portions, when I'm choosing foods for vitamins and 'bang for my nutritional buck', I feel more hungry, and I feel it more often.  I know down the track this diminishes, but in the meantime, I can't trust that my body will give me signals based on what's the best thing for me.  So I suck up the slight annoyance of never being completely full (although I understand feeling stuffed full after every meal actually isn't good), and try not to dive headlong into the nearest carb source.

And while we're on the subject, I'm not a fad diet person.  No Atkins.  No South Beach.  No Zone.  And good god no Babyfood Diet.  Actually, I've never even tried most of them.  I guess I knew early on in my weight struggle that I would be most comfortable with portion control, 'rainbow eating' and allowing myself treats now and then.  About the only things I've ever tried semi-seriously (in terms of an actual 'system' to follow) was calorie counting and, for a brief 3mo period, Weight Watchers Online (I gave the latter up due to expense and lack of motivation although I recognize it can be great for lots of people) .

No, for me, it's all about clean, normal eating - plenty of vegetables, not too many treats - and exercise.  When I'm on track of course, which I haven't been.

Then there are nights like tonight - family around for a meal - where it's not only okay, but wonderful to forgo the strict stuff and concentrate on the 'community' feeling that food can foster.  Food isn't out to get me.  I just have to learn its language.

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