Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The best 830 calories I ever ate

Who knew eating a McChicken combo could trigger a game-changing revelation.

It happened on an overcast September afternoon when I ditched my leafy lunch for 830 calories, 44 grams of fat and 1,090 mg of sodium, also known as a McChicken combo. After eating all those calories and grams of fat, I noticed that I was still hungry. At the same time, I realized eating my brown bag lunch consisting of a salad, toast and chicken, always satisfied my hunger.

At the time I didn't know that this relevation was the start of a fundamental change in how I thought about food.

In that moment, food quality became more important than the taste of food. Instead of craving junk food, I wanted to eat better food, nutritious foods. Because I realized that the nutritious food would satisfy my hunger, and food that was manufactured in a factory would not.

I've always thought that Geneen Roth's "eat what your body wants" was the most difficult intuitive eating to understand and follow. Now, I understand and know the freedom from the relentess food thoughts when your brain prefers to the healthy foods that your body wants to eat:
  • I have completely lost interest in eating highly processed food. It's weird, I see it everywhere now; its not just fast food, it's in restaurants, coffee shops, health food restaurants, grocery stores, convenience store, gas stations. I admit, I still like the taste of many processed foods, but I understand that if I eat processed food, it will not necessarily satify my hunger, or provide my body with the nutrients I need. I also realize that there is a fair possibility that I will overeat processed food.
  • I prefer to eat food prepared and cooked at home. The main reason is that there are so few food options now that I've completely lost interest in eating highly processed food.
  • I save money since I bring all the food that I'm going eat during the workday (breakfast, lunch, snacks).
  • I'm no longer waiting for the next break from eating "healthy" food, because I don't want to fill my body with empty calories. I don't want to eat junk, I want to eat foods that my body needs and wants. 
For full disclosure, if need be, I'll eat processed food, I haven't eliminated processed foods completely from my diet. I buy mayonaise rather than make my own and occassionaly we'll pick up a roasted chicken at the grocery store for dinner because its convenient.

However, I'm not concerned with eating perfectly all of the time, but I do want to make healthy choices most of the time. And it is a whole lot easier to making those healthier choices when you are no longer interested in eating processed food.

How about you, have you had any food revelations in your journey?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do I still eat like a four year old kid?

"Mommy, I only want to eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream." Little bears hands are on his hips and his face is scrunched up in frown.

Believe me kid, I know how you feel. Your Mommy would love to eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream all day too.

Of course, I've heard little bear's sentiments before, but this time, a new thought popped into my head. Do I see food in the same way as my four year old son? Did I grow up in every way except when it comes to food and eating? All about taste and no substance? Seeking satisfying taste and nothing else with every bite?

Little bear and I seem to share a worrisome trait: we are both overly concerned with satisfying our taste buds. I can also tell that whenever he is told he can't eat, lets say a bowl of ice cream for breakfast, that he is frustrated and feels like he is missing out. Just as I did when I was a little girl. And from my own experience, I know that years of frustration will build into a full blown food anxiety.

To little bear I replied: "I know cookies, chocolate and ice cream taste good, but we only eat them once in a while. Most of the time we have to eat food that makes us strong." Knowing what I know now, when little bear is pining for junk food, I use words that I believe would have helped my four-year old self when I wanted to eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream instead of a regular meal.

But, when I think about it, there is a distinct difference between little bear and I when it comes to eating. When Little bear eats food that doesn't taste great, he won't finish his serving. In contrast, before therapy, when I ate food that didn't taste good enough, I'd eat the lackluster meal and then search and eat something else to eat in order to satisfy my insatiable need for taste.

With two kids of my own now, I understand the challenges that parents face at snack and meal times. First, parents need to get their kids to eat, and second need to get their kids to eat food their little bodies need to grow. But kids don't always want to eat, and they certainly don't always want to eat the nutritious food on their plate. So I understand why I heard "NO" so frequently as I child. Just as my Mom didn't let me eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream for breakfast, my children will not be allowed to eat every craving that pops into their head.

My little bears just won't necessarily know that I've said "no."