It’s in my head

With all this writing about what I do and don’t eat, why I eat, when I eat and how I feel about eating I have found it easy to forget that the way I appear in the world is much more about the way I feel about myself. In the past a tiny gain in weight was enough to ruin my mood, imagining that I had somehow become a different shape overnight and everyone could see the extra bit of weight on my hips! It sounds ridiculous when I write it down but I know that’s what was going through my head. I’d like to say that giving up the bathroom scales had cured me of this but I think I just put another measure in its place, ie panicking about eating too much like the whole bag of chocolate as I wrote about yesterday.

When I look back on my adult life I can see my weight fluctuating by several stones, me feeling great in tight jeans and a failure in stretchy trousers but when I talk to friends they didn’t notice this; what they did comment on is the way I looked to the world, whether I was happy or sad. I’ve always made an effort with the way I look regardless of my weight: my hair is done, make-up applied and I like to think I coordinate my clothes well but a tiny increase was enough to make me doubt myself, worry about what others were thinking. I’d be very angry if my daughters only judged their worths by the size of their thighs but I can see now that perhaps I passed on a lot of my weight hangups onto them and that’s probably how they do feel. Yes I dressed it up as healthy eating, with the odd random alleged allergy, but the message was probably the same and I can remember telling them occasionally when I felt “fat”. That makes me feel sad. I am worth more than that and they are worth more than that.

I am learning to like myself more. Of course the negative body chatter still goes on when my clothes feel tighter or I’ve eaten more than I eat but I find it easier to shout it down. I might never lose weight, I might end up bigger than I am now but I feel determined that I have better things to do with my life than obsess about what I eat and the size of my stomach!


Making my own

I’ve realised the purpose of this blog is to eat without rules: if I want chocolate I’ll eat chocolate, if I want a salad I’ll have one, but I need something now to tide me over. I think it’s too much for me, as an ex-dieter, to go from living and eating by someone else’s rules, to be told what, when and how to eat, to go completely off piste and be able to eat anything I like, as much as I like, as often as I like (I’m feeling quite panicky just typing that!). It feels just like a kid in a sweet shop: allowed to have anything but overwhelmed by choice, greed and the fear this is only temporary and it will be taken away again. So it’s too much of a leap for me: I understand that people should be able to listen to their bodies and eat what their bodies need without guilt but going there straight away is like going from A to Z without looking at anything in the middle.

So I am giving myself a framework (better than rules as I can deviate from it without guilt), something that will help me keep going on my road to “normal” (for me) eating. The thing that I am doing more and more is leaving food on my plate. I have become good at eating more slowly, putting the food down between bites, it’s beginning to feel natural, so natural in fact that I don’t have to always remind myself to do it. So that is a positive.

On the list of things I still have to work at are understanding my own hunger: I think I’ve said before that I can feel “starving” but that “I need to eat something soon to stop me getting to starving” is proving more difficult. I suppose my years of dieting have made the feeling of being famished quite familiar when I was using willpower to push through another set of rules but everyday hunger? Not sure. I eat meals at certain times, usually, but then other days I don’t so it’s hard to pin it down. Yesterday for example I went for breakfast with my son, left food on my plate and didn’t even think about lunch but when I was preparing dinner there was a voice in my head telling me I hadn’t eaten since early morning so I deserved a snack. That tempting voice is still the most dangerous for me: the one that knows exactly what I have eaten and tells me to have more. So I had some chocolate (but split a bar with my partner)and later had crisps (because I could). I managed to escape the post-eating guilt but was left wondering why I did it? Something else to add to the mix?

Wearing myself out

It’s very tiring starting off with this mindful eating. It feels like I am back on the diet treadmill: I wake up in the mornings thinking about what I can eat that day, the feelings of what is good and bad etc. It feels like my mind is crowded with thoughts of food and yet that is exactly what I want to get away from, the constant analysis of everything I eat, how my clothes fit, whether I am moving in the right direction. I know it’s just a stage but it seems to be lasting a long time!

More positively I do feel that things are getting better: yesterday was a busy day and at lunchtime my daughter wanted something to eat. I checked with myself that I wasn’t hungry but knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist a few chips off her plate so I had that instead of a meal. I really enjoyed it but I didn’t eat beyond my enjoyment. Last night we shared a few chocolates as we spent a lovely evening being silly, laughing at a ridiculous joke. I didn’t want the nagging voice in my head but I felt a bit more normal being able to eat a few sweets without finishing the whole bag. Patience, dear, patience.


Step back and recap

I’m feeling a bit more sane about things today! Yesterday was a bad day, a day when I was going to end up as a woman mountain, where I was out of control, well, at least my thinking was out of control. Today I feel better, a bit more normal and a bit more reasonable.

I realised that I was panicking about the whole body/diet thing, that without my daily weighing in (and my mood adjusting accordingly) I felt rudderless. Today I realise that I am doing ok, I am on a road and I will keep going until I get to where I need to be. I need to take a step back from my feelings of being out of control, look at what I was actually doing, remember why I started all this and give myself a good slap (figuratively, of course). So I have summarised my thoughts on all this:

1 I am never going on a diet again, I am not going to starve myself, eat in a strange way, in an attempt to be a size I am not meant to be. All that has stopped;

2 Where I am now I need to be aware of what I am eating and drinking. This creates a bit of a problem because thinking about food is the last thing I want to do because it makes me think I might be hungry and then eat something but at this stage I need to be aware. I am not ready to eat like a “normal” person but I am working towards it;

3 I am fine the way I am: I am perfectly imperfect. I have my own hang-ups and I need to be aware of how much these affect my thinking;

4 I don’t eat huge amounts. When I see diet stories (yes, I still read them, maybe that should stop?) people talk about eating enormous meals, lots of snacks etc but I don’t do that. I normally eat two meals a day, plus a snack or two, one of which is normally fruit. Secret eaters wouldn’t find me very interesting but I do eat when I am bored, become aware of food and I do eat more than I need;

5 I am going to eat less: not in a “on a diet” way but rather just being aware and leaving a mouthful on every plate, re-training my brain that I don’t need to finish it all. I am also going to take a step back when I think I am hungry and tell myself to wait 20 minutes to see if I really need any food. I have done this a few times and end up not eating but I need to persevere. I have put a large question mark on the fridge just to remind myself to stop and think.

I don’t want this to go back into a disordered way of eating but I do need to think about what I am doing and why I am doing it. Time to take stock.


It’s been a bad few days

I’ve been having a bad time: not with this stuff but with life in general. I’ve had a few knock-backs and am feeling vulnerable, sorry for myself. So what is the best thing I can do? Eat, of course. Now we are not talking about 12 packets of biscuits, 10 loaves of bread etc but it was mindless eating And I’m doing this even though I know it doesn’t work.

I came back from a disappointing meeting and before I knew it I was sitting on the sofa eating crisps. How did that happen? It was all very autopilot: I didn’t make a decision to do it, I just found it had happened. Disappointing, especially on top of the other things in life but when I came back to consciousness about what I was doing I felt pleased that I had put the crisps into a bowl rather than downing a family-sized packet on my own and I was pleased I became aware. I knew what I was doing and I carried on doing it but I think that momentarily pausing, at least in my head if not the journey from bowl to my mouth, is important. It makes me feel things can get better, they can change. My problem is that when I’m feeling down I have an attitude of what does any of this matter? My diet, the size of my body, seem irrelevant and by eating more than I want or need I seem intent on making an another stick to beat myself up with. I suppose I still yearn for slimness, feel my life would be better if my thighs didn’t rub together, and yet I do things to sabotage myself. I might never be any smaller than I am now and maybe I just have to get my head around that. My ongoing fear is that I will end up much bigger than I am now because I am not watching everything I eat, allowing myself to eat what I want, I’m not weighing myself. That side of my life feels out of control and yet I know the control I used to have didn’t make me happier, healthier or slimmer. I have to persevere but I feel like I have jumped out of a plane and I’m not sure my parachute is going to open. It’s all very scary.


Say it quietly

It almost seems too much to write this down but things seem to be changing. I don’t mean I have reached the end, but I get the idea, a tiny idea, that things might be moving in the right direction. Ok, I still wake up every day thinking about my body, my weight, what I might eat etc but it feels like my perspective has changed, it feels almost like I am watching myself. I have made small changes: leaving a mouthful of food most times when I eat, being aware when I eat when I am bored (my usual reason) without being hard on myself, sort of accepting it as a step along the way.

Of course this all makes me feel nervous: is it real, will it last, can I be getting things right and at the moment I am trying to keep positive, keep working at it, keep making these baby steps. Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?


Stop thinking about thinking about it

The problem is for me that having spent most of my adult life dieting it’s hard not to diet, it’s difficult not to get the scales out and measure how I feel by what the numbers say. I suppose I am going through a period of transition: I want to eat normally but it feels very hard leaving behind all the habits of the past 30+ years. I have to keep going on this path, not expect instant results but it is very difficult: I feel edgy and anxious. I just want to be like a normal person around food and I want that to happen now.

On a positive note I haven’t got the scales out (though that doesn’t stop me guestimating my weight all the time). I suppose it’s a bit like weaning myself off tablets: it feels difficult but I know I am doing the right thing. I want to stop thinking about food and weight all the time but it seems to be all that occupies my mind. The problem is telling myself not to think about something means that is the only thing that keeps coming to my mind: am I hungry? what shall I eat? Do I want breakfast? If so, what? Am I still eating what I think I ought to eat rather than eating what I want? If I eat chocolate or crisps am I gaining pounds overnight? What do other people think – do they think I’m putting on weight?

It all seems mental and yet I can’t stop it….yet. I just have to keep going and hope that one day (soon) my brain will let me have a bit of space to think of something else and feel normal.