In my past few posts, I’ve been writing about my experiences eating in a manner consistent with my hunger. Over the weekend, I had a major wake-up call wherein I thought I was doing the right thing but wound up making a mistake.
I woke up early on Saturday and went to the gym on an empty stomach. After a good workout, I met up with three friends for breakfast. I wasn’t careful about what I ordered and didn’t think it tasted that good (eggs with chorizo) but I ate it anyway because I was hungry and because it didn’t seem like that big a deal. And it wasn’t; I didn’t feel cheated because I missed getting a good meal. I was with friends and we were having a great time and I was being fed more by the company and conversation than I was by the food.
After that, the morning flew by and at around 11:30, I felt like I had been slammed by a hammer. I was exhausted and all I could think about was crawling into bed. So I did, and I slept till about 3:30.
Now, my husband and I had dinner reservations for a huge fancy meal that I had been looking forward to for months. The reservation was for six o’clock and I hadn’t eaten since about ten that morning. When I woke up from my nap, I wasn’t hungry at all. But my mind was telling me to eat because I really wouldn’t be able to later if I didn’t then (I had to get ready to go out, and if I waited too close before we left, I reasoned, then a snack would ruin my dinner). So I listened to my mind and ate what I considered to be a healthy, moderate snack of some salmon and vegetables.
Except it wasn’t moderate, because I really wasn’t hungry and wasn’t hungry for the rest of the night. I know I didn’t enjoy the meal nearly as much as I would have had I not eaten, and in retrospect, I know I could have had a few small bites before we left the house if I had been ravenous. And the problem with me is that when I eat and I’m not hungry, it’s hard for me to know when to stop. By the time we were 3/4 of the way through our meal, I kept asking the waiter how many more courses I had to get through before we reached the end. And it was such a special restaurant and so expensive that I really wanted to get everything out of the experience that I was entitled to–whether or not it was good for me.
This is not what I want. I want to feel like a human around food, not like a dog that’s gobbling down whatever is put in front of it. I know I’m not the only person overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food at a twenty course tasting menu. But I know that most people don’t go home and eat a few cookies afterward, even though they are completely and uncomfortably full, because they overate and feel uncomfortable and eating is the best way they know to ease discomfort.
I did drink at dinner, and drinking definitely lowers my resistance to bingeing. (I just deleted the word “overeating” there, because let’s be honest–it’s overeating to eat twenty courses, but eating cookies at home afterward is more than that). But I’ve drunk too much at dinner recently and it’s never been a problem if I keep my hunger regulated. I think I outsmarted myself by relying on what I’ve been taught (eat lots of small meals, eat before you go out so you don’t overeat) instead of what I felt (wow, I’m really not hungry and I’m still waking up so give me a little more time, please). I’m not saying that these aren’t good tips and that they won’t work for other people or even for me under other circumstances. But I should have known better on Saturday. It’s difficult for me to eat just after waking up and I was a little nervous about dinner and I feel like I choked, like I messed up an opportunity to “do well.”
I know it’s not a huge deal and I’m not letting it bother me too much (which I would have done in the past, which might have set me off on a bender). I’ve taken it as an important lesson reinforcing how I need to listen to my body a little better and shut out the voices of the nutrition coaches, fitness bloggers, and public service announcements. None of these voices are mine and none of the speakers know what I need better than I do. So for tonight, when I wasn’t that hungry after having a late afternoon snack, I made myself what I really wanted (I’m going to sound like I’m pregnant here but I swear I’m not, really): leftover Thai Brussels sprouts and bread and butter pickles that I made a few weeks ago. They were really good and I felt full. Right now, it’s 8 and I could eat something more. But I could also make it to bedtime without eating and that’s the plan. I’ll be glad I did when I wake up tomorrow morning and get to have a little snack before training.
I hope this doesn’t sound like a big mea culpa. I DO feel like screwing up this way, having a bad few hours instead of a bad week or month, is a huge step in the right direction. I also learned that even “good” foods are not always good when you eat them and you’re not hungry–just like I could have had a chocolate truffle before leaving for dinner and have had that be fine. I just need to remember this little lesson I learned as I move forward–and I think I will.