Saturday, 13 August 2011

Cart after horse

It's worth saying that immediately going from a high degree of conscious restriction to a normal/intuitive eating pattern is not necessary if that doesn't suit your situation or is too scary.

I did go through a period of letting go completely after a long dieting career I found I could no longer restrict calories.

The defence our bodies mount to overthrow a calorie shortage of calories is taxing. If you repeatedly subject yourself to it long term, fatigue will become ingrained to the point where nervous system shuts down it ability to carry out your orders. Like the wild horse throwing you off by rather than you having to get off.

It meant I had to allow myself to eat things I tried to avoid, in other words, what I "felt" like eating. I couldn't wait for that period to pass to be honest, it felt like I was being directed by a backlash from a habit of imbalance rather than current needs. And at the time, my whole eating impulse was stuck in its down phase, so eating anything was always rather blah and unsatisfying..

I didn't feel any more in tune with it than I did with calorie restriction, it was after all an extension of that process, rather than my own desire. Although I accepted the need for it and was fine with it, that was undoubtedly the end for me and dieting. I actually planned to start again afterwards! But just that little bit of ease made the idea of re-starting (afterward) intolerably repellent.

That's when I realised just what it had taken to keep restricting over and over again, day after day.

I kept checking for when I could engage conscious decision making again without my body/nervous system screaming in protest.

I found that feeling started to pass after about 3 and a half weeks.

I guided myself toward some of the things I'd been missing out on in that preceding month, checking for even the slightest feelings of resistance. If I had no feeling then great, if there was so much of a squeak I left it alone.

That period of release and checking for the end of it gave me the confidence to be gentle and extremely patient with myself. Not saying IE type eating can't work straight off, just that it can be far less suited to people who've had long experience with disordered eating and eating disorders, especially from a very young age. I had both they ran into each other.

Often there are different rules for what could be seen as ingrained disorder and the more situational kind-related to your actions as opposed to self generating.

A negative mentality about food eating and being fat had built up to such an extent that when I tried to eat mindfully-with a complete focus on what I was eating- it felt unbearable and soon descended into an even wilder chaos than usual.

I didn't realise the extent of it until then.

I had to dismantle at least some of this before I could think of normality and would not have fancied eating to the rhythm of it, in fact that would have been more or less the same as before, except without the pressure of calorie restriction.

That can mean a lot, it may even be the most decisive factor, but then again, maybe not. The most important thing is anxiety releases, the release of pressure and stress. The system overall is overexcited and frankly, most would be better off taking up something like meditation and waiting for that to calm things down.

The release of the threat of starvation is a bit too specific.

The thing about eating after all this (or just having had the threat hanging over you for a long time) is to remember that imbalance is not caused by any engagement of your conscious mind in eating, its the over engagement of it. Making (or attempting to make) it the basis of all eating.

That undermines the rhythm of your function, even without limit, such as those who go gluten free and so on. Interestingly, more people can manage that and it tends to get easier, which is what happens when changes though demanding make some sense. Its what people want a restricted diet to be like, but it isn't, because of the body's homeostatic regulation asserting itself.

Your mind is more of a channel into which information from the whole of your body flows, allowing you to respond to that, it does not create your hunger or appetite. It can and does influence it, through other parts of your nervous system function, your emotions and your thinking and things like your habits, history, environment, assumed or otherwise likes and dislikes.

The latter affect what is already there, they are not why and what causes you to eat, solely. It can have a huge influence in the sense of creating a chain reaction-which is why I believe there is some way to change the course of weight- it is not its underlying basis of creation though. It is always acting on something, that's why dieting is so misguided mistaking what effects something, for that it is affecting.

A bit like mistaking writing for the paper you are writing on.

The idea that eating is consciously generated, which exists to serve the calorie restriction model only, ignoring the automatic process already occurring, trying to duplicate it badly getting in the way of what is actually designed for that purpose causing disruption. That's how dieting, with its overly rigid attempts at conscious control creates disorder, it gets in the way and forces the body to mount a counter attack.

All this leads us to think engaging the conscious mind is wholly bad when it's really the over and wrong use of it.

If our conscious mind is unsettled, it needs to be emptied of all the myths and nonsense we collect from our environment, including food marketing yes, but also from healthists and others pushing modish forms of eating.

I went as far, at one point as emptying my mind of ideas of what I liked to eat. I just tried to let go of any feeling of liking x, y, z as much as I could. That was a bit odd, but I wanted to off load as much baggage as I could and experience things freshly. After a while, it made me more responsive to amounts of things, it was this that helped me find out that I tend towards eating lots of different things, rather than full meals of a few food items.

Both it and the increasing release of tension allowed my enjoyment of food to return, after it had been killed off by years of attempted restriction and the upshot of that.

So rather than withdraw completely unless its provoked by diet burn out, in which case you'll have to pause for at least some time, you can do it the other way around and indeed this is the way it should always be to me.

For instance, moving more because you feel like it, mentally and/or physically, rather than making yourself move until you feel okay about it.

Removing all negative, mistrustful ideas about food, eating and being fat. Let go of  your ideas and assumptions about the things and ways you like to eat and let your eating change in response to that. Keeping a conscious overview and using your instincts to guide you, listening always with kindness and care.

The key is to permanently de-stress yourself and your body, before during and after eating, train yourself to be calmer in your life in general and that will flow into everything, eating included. So you can look at it directly and/ or indirectly.

Do what you can do, what either works or feels manageable to you.

In general its usually okay to take an overview of your eating every now and again and think "um, I seem to have forgotten about this kind of food/food group", everyone gets into a rut overlooking good things at times.


  1. Thanks for writing this up in so much detail-- I'm impressed with how precise your introspection is.

    Putting mice on a diet leads to long term vulnerability to stress and to binge eating

  2. Thank you for taking the time out to comment Nancy. I was worried about how much sense it made to anyone else!

    If anyone has any questions about it generally or specifically, feel free and I'll do my best.

    I don't seek to give instructions or even advice but to share pointers for consideration.

  3. Can I say that this entry resonated with me? It does. Sometimes it's difficult to de-stress, especially since I have an issue with forcing myself to do stuff...and then hating that which I am forced to do.

    I am curious as to what "modish" forms of eating are, if only because I want to use it in a sentence one day.

  4. Thank you for saying so, Rubyfruit (reminds me of RMB!)

    Modish- basically means fashionable, but more about conforming to current trends, because they're current rather than on intrinsic merit.

    Like being a fashion victim, rather than someone who appreciates fashion and incorporates it into their own style.