13 November 2005

Food for thought about food

I'm pacing the floor. Well, not really... I'm sitting here, typing. But internally, I'm pacing.

Some acquaintances are trying a program meant to curb the cycle of "addictive" eating, I gather. I don't know anything about it... don't want to, either. It's not that I'm closed-minded; it's because I've had food issues all my life, and have now, FINALLY, gotten to a place where I'm at a normal weight and STAYING there after three (three!) years (YEARS!!). Because I am food sensitive and have emotional issues, I'm very careful about what I read, and I stay away from anything remotely concerned with dieting. I'm all about nutrition, these days.

What got me going is that it appears from the acquaintances' account that the book prescribes a fast to start off the process.

Now, I don't question the good intent or the qualifications of the person who put that program together. I do seriously question that advice for people with food issues.

Fasting is very serious. As the body burns fat, it releases toxins into the bloodstream. Even if one handles sugar properly, the drop in blood sugar puts strain on the body's systems. The body goes into panic mode. This shows up first in the emotions, which become fragile, so the person becomes fractious. Then there's the hunger, as the body frantically tries to get more food.

It is a punishing, horrible experience.

Is that really what we want to do to anyone who has an issue about which they're hurting? Punish them and make them suffer?

Why do we treat ourselves this way??

I want to tell them, "Let's back up and start over."

I am on a program which allows me to eat anything my little heart desires. Anything. Really. However, I can't eat too much of my "anything." I can't eat it all the time. I have to fuel my body carefully, learning what it needs and wants, managing my hunger correctly.

And I have to heal myself, inside, and manage that part of myself, too. Lovingly.

The toughest part about food dependency is the love part. We have such fear of being loved, of loving ourselves, of loving another. We have hurts, and worries, and frets, and chocolate really and truly does make it all go away for a little while. So why forbid the chocolate?

The way to health is rehabilitation, not cruelty.

In rehab, you do not drag the wounded individual out of bed and make them run a mile! The first day, the patient gets to sit up, bolstered by pillows and supportive physical therapists. Then the sufferer lies back down and watches TV. The next try is a sit-up for 15 minutes, and so on.

It is only after many, many weeks that the person is able to take up normal life again. Along the way there are good times and not-so-good. There is progress, and there is backsliding.

Why we think we can rehabilitate our eating in less time mystifies me.

Did you know that it can take years before someone is truly ready to let go and eat right? People kick themselves for "failing" at diets, but the truth is, it is how most people go about it! They try it out, think it over, then revert back for a while. They try again, do a little better, revert back. It can take years. It's not a crime.

Two years into my weight loss, I let myself go a little bit. I'd eat a little extra and get away with it for a day or two. I'd see the pounds creep up, but work would be busy, so I'd give myself another pass, etc.

Then I went to see my doctor for a regular visit. She looked at my chart, and said, "You gained five pounds last year." She looked me straight in the eye. "That's not the trend we want. We want the trend the other way." I don't know why, but it was the right thing to say to me, in the right way. Off came the offending five lbs. and they've stayed off. But it was a little reversion... a stepping back.

Along my journey to health, I had to look inside, at the issues that made me fat. I had to understand why I was afraid of not eating, why I compulsively ate too much, why - many things. With God's help, and the program I elected, I figured it out. I had to make serious changes to my life, and I made them... because I was ready.

I was ready to let go of my notions and prejudices. Ready to take babysteps. Ready to really love my body and love my self. Love. Get love right, and health will follow.

These days, I treat myself with great respect. I get plenty of sleep. I exercise, doing only fun things which I truly enjoy. And I have figured out a Lot of stuff about food, and how I can use it to fuel my body and keep my emotions steady and truly enjoy life.

I've had to adopt a new lifestyle, one which requires that I keep track of everything I eat. I have done it for three years. I will do it every day for the rest of my life. When I see it down on paper, in black and white, I don't lie to myself about how much I've had. I pay attention to the nutrition values of the food I eat, and make sure I'm getting the most bang for the buck when it comes to calories. And I never deny myself anything, because, if I do, I will go off the wagon faster than you can say Boo!.

I want to help my friends, but I realize that we must all find our own path to wholeness and health. Perhaps this program is right for them. I hope they won't think it's their fault if it's not.

But I so want to sit them down, and talk it over with them, and help them find their way to using food wisely and lovingly to nourish themselves and nurture their emotions!

God bless all who struggle with obsession with nourishment tonight.

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