I’m starting to think maybe this would make a good weekly post. But then again, I’m worried that all it’ll let me do is find a new way to obsess about my eating.
I suppose the only way to know is to experiment and see what happens.
I’ve talked some about my dieting, body image issues, and consequent binge eating tendencies. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but as is pretty common, I suppose, I also happen to be an emotional eater – ie I use food to cope with my struggles. Which ironically leads to more struggles because of my body image issues. And I think you guys can see where this painful cycle is going.
I read A LOT. I read books and articles and blogs and really anything that isn’t poetry or two dense a scientific study. I read fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, though I tend to draw the line at fantasy (and yes there is an extremely clear distinction in my head between science fiction and fantasy).
I like to learn.
If I could learn ALL THE FREAKING TIME, I’d pretty much be the happiest person on earth. My brother and I have agreed several times that our ideal path in life would be student (as in continue to learn things but never actually apply them to a career). Too bad it’s really expensive to do that.
So I think once a week (or more right now cause there are so many right now) I will share with you guys something interesting I read with regards to this eating issue. I don’t know what to call it. The best I can say is that I have a shitty relationship with food. I told my counselor ideally I’d have no relationship with food. We both agreed that wasn’t really an option. That’s the difference between drug addiction and food addiction. Neither is easy to get over (don’t get me wrong). But whereas one can by nature survive without the drug, food is something everyone must consume. It is unavoidable. A person addicted to food cannot go cold turkey.
This week I would like to share something with you from The Anti-Diet Project, which I have a feeling will be a common source in these weekly posts. This one interests me on a scientific level (while absolutely horrifying me on a personal level). Please actually go and read the article first.
Ok. Scientifically, they did some fucked up experiments back in the day. Can we all agree on that for a second?!
This experiment fed men approximately 1600 calories a day and considered it starvation. So of all the various diets, lifestyles, etc. I followed the one I probably felt best on still recommended I eat between 1200 and 1499 calories a day…Until this program 1200 was my upper limit (when I was not in a binge cycle obviously). There was a summer I was eating around 700 calories a day for three months. So if these guys saw these effects after eating 1600 calories a day for a year…I can only imagine what the last 15 years of on and off dieting has done to my system.
Secondly, I think it’s important that this experiment focuses on the psychological side of caloric deprivation. I’d say to this day it is my brain rather than my body that drives 90% of my eating behavior. And after a decade and a half of yoyo dieting my brain, which is oh so capable in other ways, literally has no idea what it’s doing. Plus every time I see food or think I’m hungry I become an emotional wreck. (OK not every time, but really far too often).
The requirement to walk 22 miles a week. The only reason this caught my eye was because of the obsession with the 10000 steps a day thing. For me 10,000 steps is about 5 miles. That means 35 miles a week. Just wanted to throw that in here.
3200 calories a day for the first 12 weeks. THAT SOUNDS LIKE HEAVEN. Also I’d look like a whale at the end of that. (These are truly that thoughts that just went through my brain.
“…Held bites in their mouths for a long time without swallowing…” does that remind anyone else of the whole chew your food a hundred times before swallowing that I swear to god is a real suggestion (or at least was at some point) to people trying to lose weight.
“Many men began obsessively collecting recipes…” Pinterest anyone? But really? Do you wanna know how many recipes I have on their. I’ve reset my pinterest several times because it got to a point where I felt ridiculous having so many recipes that I never actually went back to try.
“They guzzled water, seeking fullness…” oy vey!
Sometimes, this permeating dullness gave way to moments of inexplicable euphoria followed by an emotional crash. One subject was eventually eliminated from the project for sneaking unauthorized food in town. After doing so, he found himself so “high” that he stopped at 17 soda shops on the walk home. “He kidded with the fountain girls, thought the lights more beautiful than ever, felt that the world was a very happy place,” the researchers reported. “This degenerated into a period of extreme pessimism and remorse; he felt he had nothing to live for, that he had failed miserably to keep his commitment of staying on reduced rations.”
But really though. Does that remind any of you guys of falling off the wagon. “Oh my god, that was so good, I really needed that [insert non-diet food here].” But then an hour later you’re like “How could I do that to myself?! Now wonder I’m fat! I’m such a failure. What’s the point?!”
And then the part that scares me the most…the psychological effects. While some mood and social behaviors seemed to stabilize after a few months of rehabilitation, “…what seemed to linger long after was this inability to distinguish between the constant gnawing of hunger and normal appetite. Appetite is a question to be answered with a meal. Hunger is a need, an enduring hollowness that begs for satisfaction by any means necessary.”
And this, dear readers, this is my struggle.
After 15 years of this shit, I don’t know what’s my normal appetite and what’s my brain just being bored or frustrated or angry or thinking I’m starving myself (which I have a feeling I’m doing more often than I realize). I just don’t know. And the things is, most of us dieters (and by the way, I’ve been dieting for a lot less time than a lot of people out there) never go through a rehabilitation. Just more food for thought.
PS I’m happy to share I had a scoop of ice cream with my lovely man last night and didn’t feel the least bit judgmental of myself!