Fuck! I just want to eat normally! I don’t want to be such a confused, erratic, slob of a woman who can’t get her life together around her food. I just want some peace. I just want to eat a single doughnut and not think about the rest of the remaining eleven doughnuts in the box until I drive myself so cray cray that I finally take an Ambien to put myself out of my misery and off to sleep…where I dream about more doughnuts.
Sound familiar? It does to me! I was this lady. When I wasn’t freaking out over eating a doughnut, I was freaking out over not eating one. Binge or restrict. Fit or fat. Black or white. There is no grey with the eternal hunt to have hip bones so pointy you could grind metal with them. (Or spread mayo on that turkey club you plan to have for lunch today. Dinner, of course, will be three glasses of red wine, two slivers of low fat cheese and your tears.)
Calculating thoughts of every calorie, every carb, every gram of sugar is thrown into the blender that is your brain where it mixes in with flashes of all you have ever internalized regarding weight loss from diets, magazines, books and media. This concoction spews all sorts of anxiety and self defeating dialogue as it thrashes and shreds into nothing more than a glooby, globby, brown, sludgy smoothie of utter food confusion.
It is easy to feel like crap about your food when you can’t seem to stay on a plan. The first few weeks may go great, even months or years but eventually regular life starts to set in. The control you held so perfectly fades. Boredom sets in. Your desire to just say, “screw it” takes over. Cookies show back up in your house.
If you are continually failing the plan, it is not really you, but the plan that has failed.
The only plan that has never failed…the normal eating plan.
It looks like this:
I go to the cabinet because I am kind of hungry, maybe a little bored but it does not have me place any judgement on myself. I had cold pizza for breakfast but I really kind of want another slice. Oh, there is that ice cream in the freezer I bought last week! Totally forgot it was in there. I am gonna have some fruit on top of that. So yummy. I might even take a nap after. When I wake up, I think I will make some ground turkey and squash for dinner. It has been awhile since I have had squash. A nice hunk of feta and some warm Naan bread with it will be super delicious. Totally what my body is craving. I love my body.
That is what normal eating looks like. No judgement. No shame. No Guilt. No anxiety. No stress. No out of control binging. No inability to put the brakes on that plate of french fries.
That example was not at all how I used to eat.
I used to eat more like this:
I would open the cabinet and before I grabbed something, think about where it falls inline with my diet. I’d ask myself, What did you have for breakfast and what will you eat for the rest of the day to aid in pin- pointing the exact snack my exhausting rules of eating would allow me in this very moment. I would also have those sweaty palm, mental out bursts of Don’t forget the gym! If you have that cookie you are gonna have to do an extra mile run tomorrow. That cookie is nowhere near acceptable to eat. You know if you have that cookie, you will just finish the box. Yes, I am craving the cookie but I do not trust myself enough to eat it. I will just have this artificially processed diet bar made to taste like a cookie instead. I hate my body. Eating “the right way” like this will make me thin though and then I will love my body.
I always imagined that normal eating meant never having cravings, never wanting more than what was on my plate, never using food to comfort me or to save me from my boredom. Basically, I thought that to eat, “normally” meant to have zero affection for food and go only off of hunger and fullness cues and what I knew to be healthy and good for me. The occasional cupcake was fine but simply because I knew I would nibble no more than half and be satisfied. I didn’t feel bad about throwing the rest out. Certainly, I wasn’t going to stick it in my purse for later, to be eaten in the darkness of my locked bathroom away from my husband and kids, like the old me would have.
“Normal eating” isn’t about finding a new way to teach your brain to get control over your food (Something we all hope the latest diet we go on will do for us.)
There is no right way to eat “normal” except the way you feel nourishes you in the manner you intuitively feel you need to be nourished. This is the hard part! This is where the work comes in. Deciding every day to honor yourself when you have been spending so much time trying to control and fix yourself. Still, once you gain the skills to start hearing yourself again, you begin to experience normal eating… empowered eating!
It’s not about your food choices. It’s not about what number you were on the scale this morning. It’s about finally honoring yourself as you are. Trusting in that. Recognizing where you need to be taken care of. The nourishing food choices will follow.
Diet culture and society has no role in how to eat normal. Only how to eat to be or to remain thin….and even then, statistics show that diets fail us 95% of the time! We trust in something that has a 95% failure rate.
Start putting your trust back into your own body. There is a way to decide what normal eating is for you. When we are finally eating what we decide is in a normal fashion for us, we are free to enjoy food, enjoy life and truly enjoy ourselves again!