Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Deprivation Sensations

When I was in college, I had a friend who went with her family to a cabin one weekend. Upon her return, she complained that her and her parents had fought about her weight. I felt bad about this fact to begin with. While few of us were truly healthy in college, (see Cheers to Ms. Fisher) and I think her parents may have had "parental" intentions as mine often had, it's no fun to argue over vacation, particularly when you're confined to a cabin. In her defense, my friend claimed that, she was built a bit more like her tall, broad father and that her mother didn't eat. Indeed, her mother was quite the skinny-mini. So, while I felt bad for my friend at the beginning of the story, I felt particularly bad for her by the end.

In Cheers to Ms. Fisher, I wrote about giving my body what it needs. While I've learned my body doesn't need food merely when I think about it (which is all the time) there are days when my appetite is truly voracious and I simply keep "feeding the beast" without fear of a scale or how my clothes may fit the next day (my weight fluctuates pretty easily). But for every yin, there is a yang and just as I become pleased when my appetite allows for pleasant indulgences I become frustrated (and sometimes concerned) when it tells me I've had enough.

As most foods on the market are made by large corporations as opposed to small trees, they often contain more salt, sugar or fat than their natural counterparts. To this extent, when our bodies try and plead with us that its had enough we don't just stop eating we withdraw from eating. This can mean our dopamine levels may change and cause massive discomfort. To avoid this pain, I often ate small meals or skipped them entirely or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, just kept eating. At the end of the day, they say issues with eating stem from control. And just like we might wear makeup, hold our tongues or make large life decisions to "control" what others think of us, I often tried to gain dominion over the pain of putting away what was often sugar-laced foods. This often took the form of simply engaging in the grazer's form of a progressive dinner throughout the day. I ate small meals so I knew another bite was always in sight, avoiding the pain of having to stop. To some extent, I was a lot like Twilight's character, Edward, in the scene where he shows concern that he won't be able to stop consuming Bella's blood (an odd scenario, I know). For copyright reasons, I don't think I can attach the scene below but if you watch it here, I pretty much feel the way Edward does at 1:04. Sometimes, I found it easier to avoid eating, adhering to the smoker's motto that, "if I don't start, I don't have to stop." In no other situation was it apparent that I couldn't have my cake and eat it too. But the irony is, had I eaten healthy, balanced meals as opposed to feeding my sweet-tooth (as stated before, I rationalized continued eating because sweets didn't count as a meal), I probably wouldn't have had the pain of pulling away. My body probably would have been more satisfied with what it had.

As we should eat as our body needs, the balanced aspect of eating arrives (I'm learning) when we listen to our bodies to stop (as hard as that may be). This point relates back to why I felt so bad for my friend. To some extent it's more of a challenge to listen to our bodies and eat simply when we're hungry (and stop when we're full) rather than override our internal mechanisms and not eat much at all (which I'm certainly not advocating). There is no glory in remaining off the proverbial horse whether one falls to the side of under or overeating. The real glory lies in maintains that razor's edge of balance which is much more challenging than going on autopilot towards not eating or eating a lot (to use extremes). It takes engagement. This is not about weight as much as it is about being healthy. While I formerly abstained in eating healthy foods in lieu of small, unhealthy snacks, I'm now learning to imbue my eating with confidence, knowing that I'll listen to myself when I'm hungry and listen to myself when I'm not. It may not make me look like a supermodel but, ironically, I may gain something better... control (and an ass). Indeed, this blog used to be called Eat Your Ego, as a reference to using and approaching food for health as opposed to it's more unhealthy associations with appearance. Anyway, here's the Red Hot Chili Peppers to demonstrate the pain/pleasure dynamic... Enjoy!

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