Have you ever had a hard time figuring out what your body wanted to eat, and when? I did. I used to spend all day trying to decide whether I was hungry enough to eat, what my body was in need of, and if I was satisfied enough to stop.
(You will not be surprised to hear that answers were virtually always: 1. Yes 2. Bacon, pastry, French fries or all three, and 3. No.)
Because I believed it was what "good" people did, enlightened people, yoga-type people or meditator people, I kept at my “intuitive” eating attempts for decades.
Then I finally got fed up, got old-school and “sensible,” and I decided to eat meals, meaning
- I didn’t fast
- I didn’t graze and
- I didn’t binge.
I just ate what the proverbial grandmother would recognize as a discrete and semi-reasonable helping of time-of-day appropriate food.
That is when my weight and mood and hunger stabilized. And not before.
I have seen this work for these others:
- the ones who are willing to give up dieting and starving (shocker: that’s not everyone)
- the ones who are willing to give up random acts of grazing and bingeing
- and the ones who are willing to create a little structure for their free will and self-expression and personal needs to roam around in
The thing is, if you rely on “awareness” or “intuition” to feed yourself, you’re going to be relying on something that’s … um, unreliable.Awareness isn’t even 100% for the Dalai Lama. Sometimes you’ll get it right, sometimes you’ll get it wrong. One step forward, maybe many steps back.
For me, that always looked like jeans getting tighter and mood getting lower. Any progress was random. It was never consolidated. I have seen that over and over in friends, relatives, neighbors and the women in every damn seminar and retreat I ever went on.
On the other hand, having a set of repeatable meals and mealtimes, aka a routine, aka a habit, means a huge amount of forward motion. It means relying on something that you already know works, and will work again.
Of course there will be experimentation. Of course there is room for spontaneity. Because a routine is not the same as a rut, which is a routine that doesn’t work. A routine is a pattern of reliably good actions leading to reliably good results.
Obviously, cultivating attention is a very good thing! Some very smart people think it’s the only thing. But there is no reason to keep suffering with binge eating while you embiggen your attention and awareness muscles. So … start with routines, because it will make everything else easier.
A routine doesn’t have to be solid gold. It just has to be solid.
Stop bingeing and overeating. Immediately.
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