For years I’ve known that I eat proper meals (balanced meal of protein, bread and vegetables), but I snack horribly. After reviewing a weeks’ worth of my eating patterns, my therapist agreed that I ate well balanced, normal meals, three times a day (thanks Mom for implanting this into my DNA). However, I also experienced both objective and subjective eating.
In basic terms, objective eating is eating a large quantity of food (example: eating a box of granola) and subjective eating is when you perceive yourself as eating a large quantity of food (example: eating two bowls of granola). Both types of eating are accompanied by feelings of loss of control.
I know I’m not the only one with a list of good and bad foods. The problem with labelling food as "bad" is that is human nature to want the something you can’t have. So a perfectly natural reaction to a bad food is to want it even more, developing wicked cravings. Over the years, cravings for bad food increased and my ability to resist those temptations decreased.
I couldn’t win: resist bad foods and I’d crave it more. Giving in to bad foods and I’d have feelings of guilt and shame: guilt for eating a bad food and shame that I was not strong enough, or in control enough to resist. No matter what I was doing, resisting or giving in to a bad food, my anxiety level increased. Anxiety makes you hungry; making it even more difficult to resist and perpetuating an endless cycle.
Limiting myself to a small portion perpetuates the same problem (say no to more, you want more even more). Wanting more but denying more increased cravings resulting in more anxiety and hunger.
I now tell myself:
- I can eat it if I really want to.
- I can have/buy/make more if I really need it.
In practice, if I decided that I really needed more (let’s say another bowl of granola), I would try to delay or distract myself with some other type of activity before consuming another bowl of granola.