Normal Eating 101

Here is my take on the normal eating process and what it takes to stop the diet roller coaster.

Four Rules of Normal Eating
  1. Eat when you are hungry
  2. Stop when you are satisfied
  3. Eat what you want
  4. Eat with awareness
These are basic and simple rules that are sometimes oh-so-hard to follow.  This is a great starting point because you get in touch with your body, figure out what it feels like to be hungry.  When I started this, I hadn't been hungry in a VERY long time.  It took me a while to remember what it felt like to be hungry. 
Even longer to figure out what it felt like when I was satisifed.  I did enjoy eating what I wanted.  Going to the grocery store with this attitude was almost paralyzing.  I had no idea what to buy because I wasn't sure what I wanted to eat, I had been dieting and eating "good" food that I had to get back in touch with what I liked.

Four phases of change
  1. Unskilled and Unconcious
  2. Unskilled and Concious
  3. Skilled and Concious
  4. Skilled and Unconcious
This was very helpful to me through the process.  When I started out I was completely unskilled and unconcious.  Over the last several years I have seen this change and believe I am on the cusp of being Skilled and Unconcious.  I believe these phases can apply to any type of change I try to make in my life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if I just go crazy eating what I want and gain 400 pounds?
A: I understand exactly how you feel.  But what you are doing is learning to trust yourself after a very long time of looking outside of yourself for answers to the weight loss issue.  I was looking to a diet to tell me what to eat rather than listening to my body.  This is the beginning of listening to your body.  If you follow the rules, you will not gain 400 pounds and you will gain a lot of confidence and trust in yourself by taking this leap.  I did.  I had a lot of people look at me like I was C-R-A-Z-Y.  But I just said, you know what? Diets aren't working for me so I am going to give this a shot.  It had been 8 years of attempted dieting with NO results.

Q: Can I still diet while I try normal eating?
A: That depends.  For me, I could not do that and I wouldn't recommend it at first because you are learning new skills.  This took me a while to buy into.  I wanted the diet, I needed the diet.  But then I realized, that need and desire were part of my problem.  They are counterproductive to the process of normal eating.  They perpetuate the idea that I can't trust myself.  So my advice would be, no diet.  Follow the rules and the rest will follow.  Once you get through the emotional part of the process, then you can start thinking about food choices.  For now, just eat what you want.  This was very liberating for me.  I loved the freedom of being able to eat what I wanted.  As long as I waited until I was hungry and stopped when I was satisfied, I felt successful.

Other Considerations

The Scale: Ditch it, at least for now.  As I said, if you are waiting until you are hungry to eat and only eating to satisfaction then you are on plan.  The scale many times will throw you off track and send you down the diet rollercoaster.  I hid my scale for a while and then finally ditched it.  I weigh myself occaisionally on the Wii which is cool because I have a record of it but if it all throws you off track and makes you want to diet, don't do it.  Liberate yourself!

The Mirror: Your body is beautiful just as it is, it is not bad or ugly and should not make you feel contempt.  It's just a body.  Maybe larger than you like but that's what you're working on.  Take all your clothes off and look yourself in the mirror and play with your body (in a G-rated way!).  Pretend like you are a kid again and you don't have any ideas about body fat, you are just being playful.  No putting yourself down.  Start with one minute and slowly build from there.  Have fun with it, jump up and down, jiggle all your parts.  Get used to looking at yourself in the mirror.  I hated looking at myself in the mirror.  I would avoid it at the clothing stores if I walked by a mirror I wasn't prepared for.  Now I force myself to look and be realistic about how I look.  At the very least, try to be neutral, at the very best, find things to love about your body.

Self Love: This is all an act of self love.  When I follow the rules and feel good about what I am doing, I feel the love I am giving myself.  Eating when you are not hungry is not love, it's something else entirely.  When I realized this I realized the amazing gift I was giving myself.  It feels good to feed myself when I am hungry.  It feels good to eat what I want.  It feels good not to overeat.  It feels good not to feel out of control with food.  It feels good to say no when I am not hungry.  It feels good to feel successful.

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