Sunday, December 30, 2012
During this splendid Christmas with family I repeated some old patterns of overindulging, I had too much salt, and I did not drink enough water, or get enough exercise. But the mistakes I made this holiday season revealed to me my three biggest potential pitfalls that I can work to prevent and avoid in the future.
This is fairly obvious as an issue for anyone, particularly during the season of abundance. The best defense is to measure everything and keep myself accountable, no matter if I record the food before or after I eat it. I struggled with this and I always want to try at least one of everything. But it is becoming easier for me to identify a normal serving size by sight as well as estimated calorie amounts. Through enough experience I am beginning to trust that I can serve myself an appropriate amount and achieve eventual normalcy.
Solution: Measure everything.
2) Snacking (when not hungry)
I know when exactly I will be hungry every day. After waking up, 10:30am, 1pm, 3:30pm, 6pm, and 9:30pm. I have trained my body to expect food at those times which in turn is helping to suppress my hunger through the rest of the day. Sticking to an eating schedule has had a detrimental effect on my social life and it has caused other problems, but at the same time it has also enhanced my understanding of my own body. As I go through my day and start to get angry, I become unable to respond, and my brain starts shutting down, I know it is probably just time for me to eat. I used to imagine other external reasons for my poor mood, but now I know and I can warn my friends and family as it is happening, as well as prepare for the issue by taking a meal along with.
So too do I know that if I eat at 2:30pm when I'm not hungry, I will still get hungry and need food at 3:30pm. Doubling up on a meal like that is not worth it so remaining on schedule with my body is a priority, no matter what time the meal is served. Sometimes it's as simple as putting a plate together in advance and setting it aside until I will be hungry in order to get everything I wanted. Today at a 2pm matinee I reserved four cups of popcorn in a covered bag until 3:30pm when I finally gave myself permission to eat. It worked to both satisfy my 3:30 hunger as well as help hold myself accountable.
Then there are the times I find myself eating anything I can but nothing is satisfactory. This is typically because I am dehydrated and my body is seeking water, not food. There is a definite difference on the days I am not getting enough water in contrast to the days I am now that I am used to staying hydrated. This is thankfully another simple resolution to achieve by drinking plenty of water.
Solution: Eat only when hungry. Drink water all other times.
3) Sharing & Permission
As we partake of food as provided by others, we are handing over to them the responsibility for our health. Some people are worthy of that responsibility. Usually their own state of health is the biggest indicator of their worthiness. The best protection is to retain responsibility for ourselves, whether that is with the food we need to bring with us, or the serving sizes we take, or asking for menus and recipe ingredients upfront.
The other area where I struggle is with permission. When a food belongs to another person, it is theirs. I am able to resist my cravings and I do not covet what they're eating. As soon as they give me permission something so simple as "Do you want some?" can be the cause of both overeating and snacking when not hungry. The best solution so far is to tell them up front to not offer me their food. This is most effective with the people I am closest to because they understand.
Solution: Take personal responsibility for my health and food needs.
Even with all of the typical pitfalls I encountered I found there were a majority of successes to celebrate.
In contrast to the prior two holiday seasons, I am more relaxed in the kitchen and I am cooking and baking without restriction of ingredients. My measuring skills are becoming fine tuned enough to not only understand what a serving of turkey weighs but also what three ounces looks like. I don't have to be so rigid about using the exact recipe ingredient amounts, instead I can use estimates. It isn't necessary to always cook low-calorie for every meal so long as I continue to stay accountable the rest of the time. Many foods are not actually as bad as I assume them to be and can even be reasonable to include into my diet. I am able to employ the necessary tools and solutions a majority of the time in order to offset the moments I am not able.
All in all, I count this holiday a success and I already look forward to seeing next Christmas continue that trend. I am on the right path to achieving a lasting lifestyle change, pitfalls and all.