You never get to know, or appreciate, many things about yourself until you see yourself through the eyes of those you reach. Yes, on a regular basis, folks have been quite outspoken to me about just what they “see” in me (good or bad) and about my strengths; things I would never be able to see, even if I had a full bottle of wine in my system. What many folks don’t know is that my strengths are truly my weaknesses. Perhaps the reason I may appear strong is that I simply recognize, and acknowledge to myself, that I am weak. I am very, very weak.
You see, I have never in my life been able to finish anything. In school, I never finished homework, I never finished projects, and I never set myself goals. Maybe if I psycho-babble-analyzed it a lot, I could say it was because my father always put off his promises to me, that he never had much faith in me that I could be disciplined enough to be a professional athlete (like my brother), or because he just didn't have the time of day to put me in art classes, or perhaps it was the fact that my mother's encouragement often consisted of "don't mess it up," or "why can't you be more like your sister." I could... but any which way you cut it, I am an adult now, and there is no way of getting around the fact that some of these habits are now very ingrained in me, and attached to some very delicate feelings. I have to carefully deal with them, on a regular basis.
This, of course, has translated as well into "dieting" and "lifestyle changes." This is where I am truly the weakest. Never one to get much encouragement, but a lot of recrimination and grilling, I would often go into serious binge eating cycles. Perhaps you've recognized yourself in these cycles before, while attempting some type of diet program or another, or even a mild lifestyle change:
You know the drill... You go on a diet, you lose 50 lbs, you get deprived, you gain 100 lbs, you feel guilty, and you go back on another diet... This is the story of yo-yo dieting in America, and the emotional upheaval it causes. I really do NOT believe in dieting, (and you can read more about it here... http://www.tudiabetes.org/profiles/blogs/my-big-diabetes-diet-secret) but one CAN lose weight without dieting, and thus far, I had successfully avoided facing the issue head on... You can just imagine the reasons why.
Needless to say, I don't really have that luxury now. Now I have to truly face my demons. I know you probably have your demons, too, and this may seem counterproductive... But the way to avoid binge eating is to let yourself eat what you want. Sometimes, you can do that by making healthy mock versions of an item at home... But when the binge urge comes on strong, there may not be much else to do... You want cake? Have a slice. You want pizza. Have a slice. You want a burger. Have a greasy, fast food, flavorless one. "Flavorless one? What? No fast food hamburger is flavorless!," you say. Oh... but it's true. They ARE. And I know that because the key to ending binging is eating with awareness. Yes, awareness.
When you have been eating nothing but good food for months, perhaps years, your taste buds change: they know quality food, and they recognize the chemical taste of overprocessed product. The problem is, most foods we eat, we eat them with our "heart," and not with our "minds." We day dream them, we glamorize them, we pine over them. "Oh, why can't I have that burger... it looks so good on tv... I so need to enjoy it."
So I feel this coming on, and I go on a little semi-Diabetes vacation. Nothing too terribly insane... but there comes a time when you HAVE to take one, especially when you are prone to binging. Just making your own "healthful version" of the item at home, doesn't cut it.. It's one of those mental games. If you don't want to completely go insane, and completely give up ... you HAVE to allow yourself a little escapade every once in a while. The key is not checking your brains out the door while doing it. So I ate a few things I was missing, in some sensible and sometimes insensible portions, which sometimes made me sick.... until I got it out of my system... and then I went to Wendy's. I haven't exactly eaten very many times at Wendy's to remember what it tastes like... But here's a synopsis:
- I know they claim they make their burgers fresh every day, but it tasted old, like someone had made it last week.
- It was flavorless. It didn't even taste like meat, of any kind. It was quite the blank slate when it came to taste.
- The bread was too... "mushy" and almost moldy... As if it had been made with older people in mind, so that they could eat it well with their dentures (no offense).
- The bacon was like plastic, and very chewy.
- The mayonnaise was like Elmer's glue.
- The fries tasted the best, but they still tasted bad, and sort of like cardboard.
In short... it was the WORST burger of my life. I couldn't even finish it. But therein lies the rub of the lesson: When you eat with awareness, you LEARN about what you eat. You actually TASTE the food. You learn that, most of the time, you DON'T like that food... or that you don't require it in more than one or two bites. You don't have to pine over it, just like you wouldn't pine over an old, moldy, leftover burger in your refrigerator. You can reprogram yourself... And you can move on! With only having paid the price for bad food for just a week's worth of time, and not months or years of binging like many yo-yo dieters, I can safely say that I am well pleased to go back to eating REAL food. I am happy with this. And this is how I train my mind to know, and be re-educated, that these habits are not restrictive... that they are a good, and desirable thing. That I can always have those other things, but in the end, I just don't want them. That it is not about CAN'T, but about WON'T.
You CAN do this. But you have to learn to plan for the binging episodes, because they WILL happen. Just don't check your brain out the door. Eat with awareness. :) And remember... You cannot plan your long journey at sea without a few life preservers.