Saturday, June 27, 2009

Revisiting Hunger and Eating Habits.

Ok friends.

It's time to get back to basics, again. Because really, isn't that all this "lifestyle" is all about? Learning (and re-learning) the correct way to eat in a manner that fuels our bodies?

I've been trying to spend a lot of time evaluating my hunger lately. Am I really hungry? Could I be bored? Could I be annoyed? Could I just be seeing a donut there and my mind knows I like the taste of donuts so I should probably eat it just to make sure I still like it?

I've been trying to repeat a mantra throughout the week, especially because I've been injured and unable to exercise.

"I will not starve."

Remembering that my body could probably sustain itself for DAYS on what I've got going on in there, and how some people live on so little, it really helps to remember that just because I'm a little bit hungry does not mean I need to stop and eat immediately.

I can certainly take the time to prepare, or wait, until a more suitable option is available.

This situation comes up for me a lot of times when I am in the car, traveling for work. Hunger pains hit and I start to consider stopping at a gas station or a fast food restaurant for some instant gratification. In reality, I'm 10 short minutes from my home where I could easily and quickly grab some fruit, a Kashi bar, or throw together a nice mini-meal.

I will not starve (on the way home).

I will not starve (during this meeting).

I will not starve (when the kitchen timer is 22 minutes away from ringing, signaling a nice healthy dinner is hot and ready).

I realize that this probably isn't always the best way to go about things. If you're hungry, you probably SHOULD eat. You should also probably be PREPARED by carrying snacks with you. If you have a blood sugar problem and you feel it dropping or feel faint, just eat something. Don't be dangerous with your body. Know your limitations.

I was talking with a friend the other day about how strange it is that we were raised never really knowing "how" to eat. I mentioned I never actually knew what "satisfied" felt like. There was only hungry or massively full. Growing up in my house, with a mother who worked 18 hour shifts, my brother and I ate whatever she had been gracious enough to cook with her other 6 hours that she should have been sleeping. [Thank you Mom] Only as young boys and girls, we didn't know what proper portions looked like. My mom would often make "casseroles" (or hotdish if you want to be Minnesotan about it) and leave them in the fridge. A big pan of this would feed my family for days, but back then, Nate and I could easily polish it off in an evening between coming home from school and "dinner."

We didn't stop when we'd had enough, we'd stop when there was nothing left. We'd stop when we had to lay down because our center of gravity had been thrown something wild. Expanded bellies so large they called for sweatpants.

If we sat down to a meal together it was always family style, and also almost always fried. It was a protein in a starch, with a starch, and some more starch served with a side of starch... and sometimes some iceberg lettuce. And we would always have seconds. Sometimes thirds.... and dessert.

I don't blame my Mom. Ever. She was doing the best with what she had, and I suspect quite a bit of how she taught us to eat growing up had a lot to do with how she ate growing up, which was quite the opposite. They had very little and often went without. Every parent wants to provide a better life for their children than they had for themselves. I realize now that being able to make these giant dinners for her kids was such a huge sign of love, as well as pride, that she could provide for her children in a way she never had.

When I first rejoined Weight Watchers, I would always make a separate meal for myself than I would cook for Justin and Eli. I felt like it would be a burden to them to have to eat "diet" food, and they should be able to continue eating the things they enjoyed. But then I stopped. I realized, "Hey, I kind of love these boys. I kind of don't want them to turn into giant rolly polly lazies who are 2 seconds from a heart attack, " and now I cook one meal. Because it's not diet food, it's food. It's vegetables. It's protein. It's whole grains. It's not a big pile of cheese and starch, it's NUTRITIONALLY SOUND.

Justin and I also recently agreed to never force Eli to "finish what's on his plate." This was something we struggled with for a long time - trying to get him to eat what we thought was enough. How do we know when he's full? I want to set him up to learn the lessons about food that I am now learning late into my twenties. We eat when we're hungry, but we stop when we're not. So simple a kid can do it.

So why can't I?


antgirl said...

We also have to learn to breathe right. Who knows why these basics escape us?

totegirl said...

Wow. I kind of love your mom. And you for this post. I have been going through the same for a while, and what I've realized is that once you have these epiphanies,it's not possible to go back. I mean, you may get off track a little, but really, you just can't go back to eating like that because it just doesn't feel good. And the longer you keep at it, the easier it becomes.

I know for myself, I will not starve. And I shouldn't have to binge to get full. Volumetrics doesn't work for me even if it's zero point foods. I need eat small, well-rounded meals. And that's all I need. Everything else is just Western convenience. And there's nothing basic about that, now is there? Nope!

Great job, and great post.

katyhaltertop said...

Great post Nic! I grew up knowing only the terms: hungry, massively full, and plate shiner. I was a very good plate shiner, lol.

I struggle with the "I will not starve" too. Especially when waiting for a timer to go off (even on a frozen dinner in the microwave!). But you're right, I won't starve and I know it and it's not hard to obey that rule...

Looks like I have a new mantra of the week! (or year, lol)