The weekend is a challenge when it comes to eating. Go out to lunch, get together with friends for a meal, and eat at strange times and at lengthy intervals. Even if I didn’t engage in binge eating, chances are my eating habits wouldn’t be the best on a weekend. After reading Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003)I tried to pay attention to the times I ate by asking questions like, “Am I biologically hungry?” and, if not, “What am I feeling?”
Intuitive Eating – Not!
Okay, I don’t expect forty-five years of mindless eating habits to vanish in a few days, but a big “Duh” when it comes to just answering the question “Am I biologically hungry?” This isn’t an easy thing to do. For years I’ve eaten breakfast because that’s one of those key pieces of advice pretty much every diet tells you to follow. But, when should I eat breakfast? Within an hour of waking up? Two hours later? How about after I take my walk? What if I don’t want breakfast until 10:00 a.m.?
The thing is most of those questions have nothing to do with biological hunger. They all have to do with following good advice that is coming from a book as opposed to my own body. So, noon rolls around and I want lunch; my fiancé comes home from work and shortly thereafter I cook dinner and eat while watching television, chatting, and looking through my mail (often, all three).
Mindful Eating or Compulsive Eating?
I say that I eat compulsively because I usually don’t pay attention to what I’m eating. The food is there, it is mealtime, so I eat. The idea of taking a bite of food, paying attention to its flavor, and noticing how it feels in my body is, oddly enough, pretty stressful.
Following suggestions in Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet (Penguin Group, 2008) I’m trying to write about my feelings when I go to eat. Asking the question and allowing it to roll around your brain in one thing; it’s far more real when you write those thoughts on paper.
My Emotions behind an Eating Binge
I’m considering an eating binge as eating anything that isn’t in response to biological hunger. I might loosen that definition as time goes by, but right now it feels accurate. This weekend I ate or overate in response to stress and boredom. I’m not sure about the boredom as I have a to-do list half a mile long.
I was busy until I hit the point Sunday evening when I crashed. I sprawled on the couch reading magazines and eating some fruit, some pasta salad, a steak tip, a slice of peach pie, and some more fruit. I was tired but I was also bored. Logically, I should have done something, anything, beside sitting on that couch and reading magazines.
Was I tired? Stressed? Bored? A little bit of everything? It boils down to not understanding my emotions. Yes, if sitting and flipping through magazines had me noshing through leftovers, I should have moved to a room upstairs – it didn’t really matter what emotion I was experiencing. So, I made it through a weekend of overeating with little understanding of why I ate so much. Ah, progress.