Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Too good to stop

I read this article, written by one of the authors of Intuitive Eating, Elyse Resch, and the title alone speaks to me.  It's called The Sadness of Saying Enough (scroll about 2/3 of the way down the page and you'll find it).  It appears in a newsletter for the Academy for Eating Disorders and, as such, is targeted more towards nutrition counselors than the general public, but I still feel like it's a great read, and it might be something you can relate to like me.  The article addresses the fact that respecting your fullness and stopping when you're satisfied can bring up feelings of sadness.

I can definitely relate to this feeling.  I know that some people, myself included, sometimes overeat to distract themselves from having to deal with negative emotions, or to avoid having to do something unpleasant (like dishes, homework, etc.), or because it provides them with some comfort when they're feeling lonely.  Sometimes, however, I'm eating a meal and I can feel that I've reached my fullness level, but I'm truly sad that I have to stop eating because it just tastes so damn good, and I don't want the experience to be over!  Being an intuitive eater really sucks when your stomach says "Enough" and your taste buds say "More, please!"   I will admit that, at these times, I sometimes rebel against my intuitive eating instincts and I just keep on eating.  Later, however, I regret my decision, because not only do I feel uncomfortably full, but I also realize that consistently overeating will inevitably lead to weight gain, which certainly won't make me feel good.  But how do you deal with this sad feeling of having to stop when your brain and taste buds still aren't ready to let go?
I'm not hungry anymore, but...this is so much fun to eat!
What Resch suggests in the article, and what I try to think about now after having read it, is that when you're faced with this sadness, know that these sad feelings will only last a moment-- far shorter than the painful feelings you'll have to deal with if you decide to overeat and eventually gain weight.  It's a trade off-- a moment of sadness now in exchange for improved health and better self-esteem in the long run.

At first glance, this thinking makes me nervous, because it sort of sounds like a diet-- "ignore your feelings of hunger now in exchange for a better, thinner tomorrow".  The fundamental difference, however, is that you won't be depriving yourself, as you do when you're following a diet.  Instead, you're stopping when you're biologically satisfied and no longer hungry, so you won't be dealing with the cascade of negative feelings and biological urges that arise from deprivation.  Also (and this is super important!), you'll know that you can have that food, or whatever food strikes your fancy, any other time you want, so there's no reason to keep eating like it's your last meal, because there are many more fantastic eating experiences to come.

The liberation that comes with knowing that you're in tune with your body signals and can eat whatever food you want whenever you want it far outweighs the few moments of sadness you'll feel at having to stop.  Try to think of that the next time you're faced with this dilemma.  With time, as you prove to yourself that you're able to tolerate these sad feelings and make it through to the other side, your confidence will grow and it will only get easier.

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