My Mind over Munchies Victory
For the last few months I’ve been taking Rena Reiser’s telephone course on intuitive eating. And it’s been a big eye opener for me.
First of all, Rena asked us to pay attention to all the diets and hidden diets and food rules that we construct for ourselves in order to control our weight. In other words, what we allow ourselves to eat, at what times, and our methods of doing penance or self-flagellating if we broke our food rules that day (i.e. I broke my diet so I must go run 2 miles or go to bed without dinner).
Instead, Rena suggests, we should do something common sense yet revolutionary for us modern women who have lived our entire lives trying to control our weight. She says, in accordance with intuitive eating, that we should actually listen to our bodies and eat what we want to eat, when we are hungry.
I will repeat that, so nobody misses it: WE SHOULD START EATING WHAT WE WANT TO EAT, WHEN WE ARE HUNGRY.
So for the last few weeks I’ve been trying to do that.
Instead of following my elaborate food rules– which allow cereal at 8 AM, a meal at 11:30 AM, rice cakes with cottage cheese and fruit in the park with the kids at 2:30 PM, etc…Now I actually pay attention to when I am hungry. And when I am hungry, I eat what I want to eat. And when I’m not hungry, I don’t. So instead of following my arbitrary food rules such as “at 8 AM I must eat cereal” I actually ask myself what I would like to eat, even if that means onion soup or spinach casserole for breakfast. And following this approach has also made me realize that if I eat a meal at 11:30 AM I am not hungry at all during our 2:30 playground picnic, so I skip the rice cakes with cheese and fruit and eat later in the afternoon instead.
Another important subject Rena discusses is emotional eating. When she first mentioned this, I thought it didn’t apply to me. I only overeat from extreme stress, like when when my family member was hospitalized before Passover, and on my way home from every visit, I would stop in the cafeteria to binge on spaghetti in mushrooms and cream sauce. But b”H, my family member is healthy again, and I’m not binging out of stress any more.
But then Rena asked us to remember the last time we binged (i.e. ate when we were not hungry.) And I realized that when I eat when I am not hungry it is because I see eating a food I desire as a way of taking care of myself, or spoiling myself, of mothering myself. When I reach for those potato chips on Shabbat even though I’m stuffed, or that extra bowl of cereal before I go to bed and am not hungry, I am saying to myself “You deserve this, you worked hard today, you took care of everyone else today–now is your chance to take care of yourself.” I am the stereotypical Jewish mother urging myself, with love and concern, “Eat, my child”
In keeping with this, I realize I have built an entire system to reward myself–with food. For example, if I ate a salad and exercised every day and didn’t eat any white flour all week, I would receive a felafel on thursdays (felafel is my favorite food).
So, thanks to Rena, instead of rewarding and mothering myself with food, I have been trying to think of things I can do to bring myself pleasure, to make myself feel taken care of, spoiled, mothered– without food!
So I made a list of all the things that I love to do that do not involve food. I love reading magazines and books and going on long walks and taking long showers and talking with friends and going to cool stores.
So, this morning, instead of buying myself a weekly felafel for my good behavior, I bought myself a book I am looking forward to reading instead (Rebbe by Joseph Telushkin).
And I felt taken care of, spoiled, mothered…My inner Jewish mother urging me. “Read, my child.” A Mind over Munchies victory.
Sign up for Rena Reiser’s free class at www.mindovermunchies.com.