I’ve never liked having people tell me what to eat. In fact, most times when they have I’ve simply turned around and done the opposite. This was especially true as a teen. The more people told me to eat healthy foods, the more I found ways to get junk food and sweets. (I often wonder what would have happened if they had tried reverse psychology and told me to eat unhealthy foods.)
Yet despite this, I still sometimes struggle with being my own authority and deciding for myself what’s right for me and my body. Even after eleven years of maintaining weight loss, I sometimes find myself counting calories, or spending way too much time considering the nutritional breakdown of my food, or struggling with the voice in my head saying, “You shouldn’t be eating so much.”
I do this even though I know it never ends well, and lately I’ve been trying to figure out why.
Sometimes it feels simpler. After all, if I just eat x number of calories, or y number of nutrients, if I only eat the amounts I’m “supposed” to, I don’t have to think about why I feel like eating, or if I’m actually hungry, or any of that. I can just follow orders. On days when life is coming unglued and dealing with the fallout seems to take all my energy, it’s kind of nice not to have to think. What I lose sight of in that equation is the energy spent following those orders and fighting what my body is telling me.
Another reason is being disconnected from my body. This happened more often when I was heavier and wanted to disavow my physical self, pretend it had nothing to do with the real me. In those situations, actually noticing what my body needed and wanted, or how it reacted to certain foods, or how hungry or full it was – that all seemed alien to me. I never paused to consider how someone living outside of my body could possibly know what was best for it and me. Oh, maybe in a general way they could make some guesses, but for my exact, specific situation on any given day? Not so much.
It can also be scary to go against the flow. I spent so many years feeling like an outsider because of my weight, always being the odd one out, that the sense of “normalcy” that comes with being thin is oddly heady. I want to pretend, sometimes, that I’m just an average woman, no reason to look at me oddly. And while mindful eating is starting to become more familiar to people, it still feels unusual at times to pause and really focus on what’s going on and what I truly want, or to tell someone that’s what I’m doing. Of course, I forget that pretending, denying who I truly am, causes other heartache.
I don’t know how much this will help the next time I feel inclined to pay attention to someone else’s voice. But I hope it will, so that I can remember to cut through the noise and focus on my voice, my body, because being my own authority – in food and elsewhere – is what will ultimately lead me to where I want to go.
Note: For more information on mindful eating and/or becoming your own authority, consider the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program. Learn more here or at www.AmIHungry.com.