At the end of today, I will mark my 60th day since I last binge ate. So for about the last two months, I have had more control over food than food has had over me. At last count, I had lost about an additional 5ish pounds, and I am now hanging right around 7 pounds higher than I was at the end of April when my eating went to crap.
I finished the online artistic journaling workshop that I was working on almost two weeks ago, and one thing I was worried about with the ending of that was that I would fall out of the journaling habit I had gotten into. One thing that I really liked about SR1 was that each week we were given journal prompts to ponder and write about. We didn’t have to write about all of them, but each week I chose between five and ten of the prompts and wrote out my thoughts on them. Some of them were pretty probing questions about things that were difficult to think about, but having them really helped me to “go there” in my journaling in a way that I would not have if not for the prompts. I decided to look for additional sources for some prompts I could use for my journaling.
I headed off to my local Barnes & Noble to peruse the psychology and self-help sections of the store for any books they might have that involved workbooks or journaling or anything that might give me some structure to my writings. I was able to find some Nook Books that offered some prompts, although not all of them were exactly what I was looking for. However, I found a book by Geneen Roth, who is sort of a disordered eating/compulsive overeating/binge eating guru (and the author of the recent bestseller Women, Food, and God), that I thought might be of some help to me.
The book is called Why Weight? and is billed as a workbook for ending compulsive eating. It truly is a workbook, in that there are spaces to complete the exercises right within its pages, but I decided to buy it more to guide my journal writings. I have not gotten very far into the book (I am on chapter two of 18 so far), but I have already had some ah-ha moments. One of those ah-ha moments occurred when I read her guidelines for eating. These are not rules, but they are guidelines that, when followed, can help a person break free of the control food has over her. It sounded just like what I might be looking for.
I am not going to list all the guidelines here, but the basic premise is that to have control over our eating, we must be eating mindfully, not with the TV on or while reading the paper or while commuting to work. We must be eating what we want when we are hungry and only until we are satisfied. We must not be eating with the intention of hiding our food from others. And with these guidelines in place, we should be eating with enjoyment of our food.
When I have been deepest in a binge mentality, I have been doing almost none of this. I perhaps could say that I am eating what I want, but the eating during a binge is so mindless that it is not even like I am consciously choosing to eat food that I think will taste good. I am not eating in a calm place or without distraction. I am not eating only until satisfied. I am not eating because I am physically hungry. I have the TV on; I am checking my email on my phone; I am on the internet. I am not present with my food.
Something my therapist and I have touched on a bit is the idea of mindfulness. If I am mindful when I am eating, then I will be following these guidelines set forth in this workbook. Therefore, my goal for the next month, is to be mindful with my eating. I am going to make every effort to eat only what I want to eat when I am hungry and only to the point of satisfaction. I am going to stop eating in the car, in front of my TV, in from of my computer, and with my phone at my side. I am going to sit at my dining room table for as many meals as I am home for with my feet on the ground and with silence in my apartment and eat my food slowly so I can savor it. I am going to STAY OFF THE SCALE! This is not about what I weigh. This is about how I eat and the relationship I have with food.
I hope that there will be a day that I won’t let food be at the forefront of my every thought. I think that exercises like this one give me an opportunity to get closer to that day.
Make it a great day, everyone!