Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Report

I am on an Undiet. I have given up dieting forever. I decided this two weeks ago, when I came to terms with the fact that although Weight Watcher's has worked for me in the past, I always gain the weight back. Maybe those people who say diets don't work are onto something. So anyway, I'm trying this crazy thing: I'm eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full.

This sounds easy, but it's not. Not if you're me and have spent your entire life eating for all sorts of reasons, not one of them having to do with hunger. Yesterday, I kept willing myself to get hungry, because I really wanted to eat something. It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. And what does "full" mean, exactly? Sometimes it's hard to tell. There's a fine line between full and stuffed, as well as between full and not full enough. I'm trying to learn what the right amount of full feels like.

I've been reading a lot about undieting and emotional overeating, because far be it from me to start something without reading dozens of books about it. The books claim that if you eat when you're hungry and stop eating when you're full, that crazy things begin to happen. Like you stop craving sugar. That you will actually start craving healthy foods. That you'll eat sweets from time to time, and not feel guilty afterwards. That your body will stablize at a healthy weight.

It seems too good to be true, and maybe it is. But intuitively it makes sense to me. Dieting doesn't. When I go on a diet, I immediately rebel. I sneak food behind my diet's back. I lose weight at first, and then I gain it all back.

So I'm giving this a try. It feels a little scary, to be honest. I've been having strange dreams. I won't even tell you about the one where I found one hundred boxes of Pepperidge Farm cakes stored in the garage that I'd forgotten all about. What could that mean? How could I forget that Pepperidge Farm cakes have to be kept frozen?

The funny part of the dream? Even though the cakes had been sitting unfrozen in the garage for over a year, I couldn't bring myself to throw them away.

Chew on that, Sigmund Freud. And then spit it out. Blech!


Tracy said...

Good for you Frances. And don't let the naysayers tell you that you should be eating by the clock every 2-3 hours. God invented that hunger sensation for a reason. I can go for hours, at home, without getting hungry. Different story at school though. Those kids must take more energy cos I'm starving at 10.30 and have to wait til 11.00 for morning tea!

Heather said...

I refuse to diet, it only makes me over-eat. It should take you about a week to forget to think about that extra snack you used to automatically "need". By Thanksgiving you'll be amazed at how little you eat this year compared to last.

The Japanese use the 80% full rule, and stop eating. Try that if you need a number to correspond to fullness.

debbie bailey said...

I'm trying to do the same thing. I'm so surprised at how little food it actually takes to fill me up. We Americans eat WAY too much food. Portion control is a big part of eating correctly. Age has made a difference in me too. I eat less than half of what I used to, and I've never been a big eater.

I read in a book one time that we shouldn't eat until we're full. The author suggested that you stop before that point. I've tried that and feel much better when I succeed. I hate having that Thanksgiving full feeling!

Pom Pom said...

I love books on this topic and if you lived by me, I'd share them all. My favorite is Overcoming Overeating AND When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. I love the web site, too. Now that I'm 51, I want to lose weight for longevity reasons instead of "hot body" reasons (now THAT'S funny!) and so I am surrendering my weird little mind games associated with eating and going to Weight Watchers with the girls. It isn't the diet or the "system" as much as it is the acknowledgment that I've had a stupid hobby for many decades. I read my old journals and feel sorry for myself . . . so shallow. We do eat too much and we eat by the clock and we don't even need three feedings a day. But, I have no answers - I'm ruined forever. Now I just want to sleep peacefully, run in case I need to hurry to save a life or something, bend over with ease . . . that's all. You are so dear. I love your generous heart - you are true, true, true.

Gretchen Joanna said...

Frances, you ARE brave, because this new enterprise is scary for sure. You inspire me to do more of the same. I try sometimes, and then I forget. These long-time habits hang on like leeches.

Angela said...

I am Deeply Deeply Impressed.
How do you reconcile 'eating when you are hungry' with a] feeding the family [and not eating at the same time] and b] desperate cravings for food at the wrong moment [eg half way through church]?
I wish you every success and hope to see pictures of your new svelte self posted on the web sometime!

Sara Padrusch said...

Great attitude Frances! Try reading "French Women Don't Get Fat". She pretty much recommends eating the very way you describe. Plus much of it is about France which is fancy. As always, love your blog!


Ali said...

Good for you! I have never dieted - it seems unnatural. Moving a bit more always seems to do the trick when the jeans are getting snugger than normal.

Tracy said...

I have French Women Don't Get Fat. Very inspiring and a worthwhile addition to my bookshelf, that earns another skip through quite regularly. Plus, it has recipes!!!!!

A comment for Angela. I've learned to eat when I'm hungry and take into account what I'll be doing so that I'm eating what will keep me going. I eat at regular meal times and if I'm hungry before that, I have a cup of tea. If you thought you wouldn't make it through church, a small handful of nuts or a piece of fruit right before you leave home would be what works for me.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Tracy, I find that I can go for hours without getting hungry, but then have periods, usually late in the day, when I might get hungry every hour. I should probably eat dinner earlier than I do, but it doesn't work with the family schedule.

Heather, Thanks for the 80% full rule. That sounds like a good one. I've been trying to practice it, though if I don't pay attention I'm at 100% before I know it.

Debbie, I'm *dismayed* by how little food it takes to fill me up. The other day I was only half way through a very delicious sandwich when I realized I was full. But I stayed to true to my new plan and put it away until I was hungry again later.

Pom Pom, I'll have to look for When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. I feel like part of a sinister corporate plot when I hate my body--really, we've all been brainwashed. And I have the same feeling when I read old journals--how could this be such a huge thing for me? When the world is full of poetry and trees and more poetry?

Gretchen, I really do think it's about breaking habits--and I'm finding they're hard to break. A lot of it has to do with staying aware ... and that's not something I do naturally. I'm trying to make awareness my new habit. Hard!

Angela, Not eating while I'm cooking is a tough one! I'm working on breaking the habit, but I can tell it's going to take a while. The desperate cravings at the wrong moment is also a tough one, but I'm trying to remember to carry around a little something (my pastor won't mind if I snack during his sermon, will he? Ask Bob if that's offensive).

Sara, I have "French Women" but haven't looked at it in awhile. I'll get it off the shelf and let it further inspire me! And I send love back at ya!

Ali, I wish I'd never dieted. But I got put on a diet when I was ten, and that started the whole cycle. And I'm definitely trying to move more, which I actually really love to do.

Angela said...

I have checked with the pastor - he says it is ok for me to nibble on things during church[though probably NOT to make noises with rustling packets and crunchy stuff]
One would have to be TERRIBLY discreet though - otherwise my neighbours in the pew would notice, and I would end up passing the bag of peanuts along the row...
Actually, the sermons are usually v interesting and I don't think about food too much then, it is during the offertory that I get hungry for some reason.

Gretchen Joanna said...

Angela, I hope you can see this. I hopped on over to your blog and found that I am unable to post comments there. It is some glitch with the comment format. If you ever change it to "pop-up" format I could leave a comment.

victoria said...

I fully support the undieting.
So glad to hear you had some good news about your mom.