From skwigg's journal:
How much do "normal" people eat? What are "reasonable" portions? What do lean healthy people definitely eat or not eat?
I had to set all my beliefs about that on fire and start over in order to get anywhere. My own energy needs vary each day, and can be quite different from other people’s needs. My preconceived notions were keeping me from feeding myself effectively. For example, I frequently eat more than my husband. Diet wisdom would tell you that eating more than your husband will rip the fabric of space time, or at the very least tilt the earth off its axis, but I’m often hungrier than he is. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I’m eating to appetite, I may eat every crumb of a large restaurant meal or I may leave two thirds of it. There is no “right” portion or special restaurant policy I follow. Holding myself to specific guidelines usually left me dissatisfied if I did it or stuffed if I decided to rebel. When I believed there were foods I had to eat to be lean and fit, weight was a struggle. I’d find myself eating a whole lot of food I didn’t particularly like or want, plus overeating the food I did.
If you’ve been dieting forever, it seems scary not knowing what you’re supposed to eat, at what time, or how much. It’s been fascinating to realize that I *do* know. It’s just that the information is no longer coming from outside sources. My body tells me. The challenge was first learning to recognize what it was saying, and then learning to believe it. Luckily, stomachs don’t make stuff up. Taste buds don’t lie. My own appetite is far more clear, accurate, and easy to follow than any of the diet plans I read about or paid for.
For some reason today I’ve been reflecting on both the nonsense and the breakthroughs. Do you remember every diet ever where the woman gets 1200 calories and the man gets 1800? What a bunch of sexist crap that was. LOL I was thinking about Gillian Riley too. Her “times and plans” was helpful to me because it taught me to think about what I really want to eat and decide how much to serve myself. This was super effective against my paralyzing indecision. But then she messed me up with the whole concept of “addictive desire.” That would make me doubt myself if I wanted more food. “Oh, I can’t possibly be hungry, it must be addictive desire.” Reality is that if I can’t quit thinking about food, it’s probably because I’m hungry. Duh. I love the intuitive eating authors for driving home that satisfaction is different from physical fullness, and that satisfaction is the key to everything. Georgie taught me about the beauty of getting physically hungry and then eating a satisfying meal. Apparently, this is how people used to eat before My Fitness Pal. I remember that horrible man whose name I’ve blocked out, the one who wrote The China Study. He made me deathly afraid of both cheese and peanut butter, for like a month before I came to my senses and/or decided they were worth dying for. Precision Nutrition with the eating every 2-3 hours and earning your carbs. I’m glad they’ve moved on from that (I think) but those were tortuous concepts. I still want to face palm myself every time Zuzka posts about “free meals” and “workout earned meals,” but eyes on my own plate. It obviously works for her, and I’m not the one making pizzas out of crickets and sand.
Wow, this turned into some kind of crazy stream of consciousness. LOL On this journey toward food peace, what concepts have you found the most helpful over the years? Or funny? Or totally counterproductive?
About setting diet beliefs on fire, practicing Byron Katie’s method of inquiry definitely made my mind more flexible. “Is it true?” No, probably not, especially if it hurts. All of that internalized diet and fitness dogma caused me tremendous pain and stress. “Can I absolutely know that it’s true?” This is when you realize that most of your “truths” have come from dude bros on fitness forums, trainers selling programs, alarmist documentaries, your Aunt Nancy, and diet book authors preaching hope and fear, NOT from personal experience. Even advice we’ve taken as gospel from “evidence based” people and sites is suspect because its human nature to believe evidence supporting whatever batshit theory we may have, and to reject evidence that conflicts. In other words, we take “facts” and twist them up like balloon animals.
“How do I feel or what happens when I believe that thought?” Well, cue the circus music or horror film soundtrack, or better yet, play both or them at once. That’s what it sounds like in my head when I’m trying to portion my plate just so, or stay below a certain weight, or not eat _______. It’s not just the physical fallout from restriction that makes me crazy, but the unquestioned thoughts that drive the restriction: that I’m not good enough, or I won’t be loved, or I should be ashamed. Ouch.
“Who would I be without that thought?” I’d be free. There would be room for curiosity, kindness, humor, peace, all the things that go out the window when I’m living in my painful diet drama fantasy world.
“Could the opposite also be true?” Ok, here’s where it gets really interesting. Anyone who has ever had some success with low-fat eating, and then high-fat, and then paleo, and then vegan, and then “clean” eating, and then flexible Pop-Tart dieting, and then non-dieting KNOWS that the opposite of all our rigid diet thinking could be true. We’ve lived it. A new book or study comes out and we’ll flip like pancakes. The answer then is to start looking at what’s true for YOU, NOW, not what was true for you five years ago, or seems true for other people on Instagram.
Reading the original Intuitive Eating book and especially the Intuitive Eating Workbook helped me settle into that process of tuning out the diet noise and learning to listen to and trust my own body. I got curious and objective. How do I feel when I eat this way? How do I behave when I think these thoughts? What are the results physically in terms of mood, sleep, energy, and health? If you approach it with that kind of open mind and no story, you quickly learn what serves you and what you can let go of.
The Secret Life of Fat is a great example of experts projecting their own issues. She wrote such an amazing book about the wonders of the human body and the importance of body fat to human health, but then the conclusion she draws is that she's justified in starving herself. If I had read that at a different point in my journey, I'd have felt justified too, never mind the disastrous consequences. I guess she'll have to write another book on those in a few years.
I find that I can hardly make it through books related to weight and dieting anymore. They used to fascinate me. Even non-dieting and body positivity make me yawn now. My new thing is that I enjoy reading about health and science - sleep, cancer research, gut bacteria, that kind of thing.