So I know that the mantra of mindful eating (and also Weight Watchers, BTW) is that one is supposed to “eat when hungry, stop when full.” Sounds simple, right? But for me it is one of the most difficult things to grasp. I guess for so many years I did no such thing – I ate for ten million other reasons than hunger, and went way beyoooooond fullness, that it’s like trying to learn how to knit on a unicycle.
Last night we went out to this fantastic Italian restaurant. (daughter was out with friends so I skipped the pot pie thing for another time) I was all prepared. I’d had a fairly light lunch. It was after my weigh in. I’d accumulated many “activity points” from my nice long walk/run. I told myself I’d have plenty of points to spare, so while I was not going to pig out, I would relax. And yet try to remain mindful.
When we got there, I was thirsty. I drank a big glass of sparkling water with lemon. I had a teeny little piece of bread about the size of a biteful. This restaurant brings things Sicilian-style, which means family style and everyone shares. I didn’t have a problem with that, in fact I thought it sounded like a good option. Appetizer one arrived: eggplant rollatini, which I adore. I divided it into four little sections, each one about two bites. I took one little section and thoroughly savored it. Lovely. Then we had an antipasti plate. I had a wee little strip of prosciutto, and about a tablespoon’s worth of marinated bell pepper and eggplant. Nummy.
But then, guess what? I was full. Or at least satisfied. I think my stomach was so full of bubbly water, that those five BITES of food were literally enough. But our entrees hadn’t arrived. I started feeling bummed out, like knowing I was supposed to stop there, but not wanting to miss the main courses. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do.
The main stuff arrived: homemade linguini with clams, and a big tureen of mussels. I’m sure I had enough points to enjoy both of these things. I really wanted to taste them. I took about 1/2 cup of linguini, about four clams and four mussels. You know how big clam and mussel meat is? It’s TINY. Probably totalling about three tablespoons. Max. The linguini was absolutely divine, but as I ate I was conflicted.
Mind you, I was much LESS full than I ever would have been normally – I was just MORE full than “satisifed,” which would’ve stopped after the appetizers.
So while I loved the dinner (I really, really did) I also felt distracted and confused by what I was “supposed” to be doing.
I guess I’ll figure it out someday, and be able to eat in relative peace.
Meanwhile, my copy of the Zen of Eating arrived in the mail. So far, I am loving it. I think it might give me some help with this area.
March 15, 2009 at 11:43 am
Love the automatically generated “possibly related posts.” Thank you WordPress! This one is fantastic.
March 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm
I guess it depends a lot on what you eat. If you are vegetarian, for example, you can almost gorge as much as you want (provided you hold back on the olive oil!). So little fat content there! so yes, watch HOW much you eat, but more importantly, WHAT you eat 🙂
March 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm
Foodie McBody–that link is awesome!
I wish I could automatically eat until full, too.
March 15, 2009 at 2:04 pm
Eating at home is so much easier to deal with: It’s more predictable and so much more controllable. I have a lot more trouble away from home, when there are so many more options.
So I’m much more vulnerable to those feelings about satisfaction and fullness when I’m out. My “good” eating pattern at home is pretty well established (well, for THIS round of weight loss, at least), so now when I go out I try to imagine the pitfalls before I leave home.
Then I try to plan how I can eat while out so that I keep that “good” pattern intact. (What will the protein-carb-fiber-fat-sweet balance be?) This sounds incredibly simpleminded, but it’s surprising how much easier it is for me to make better decisions, and also how much more satisfied I am with those choices when I’ve prepared this way.
This probably pretty much the same thing as mentally rehearsing a difficult conversation, a speech, or a presentation. One of the positive side effects is that the actual eating becomes less of a burden, and I don’t have to think about it or focus on it as much if I’ve decided on the parameters before going out. That’s all over with.
So, is that the opposite of mindfulness? Maybe! For me, at least, it really helps to erase those doubts during and after, which is, in the end, makes for a lot more pleasure in those iffy, tempting situations.
March 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm
A few questions:
You say: “The linguini was absolutely divine, but as I ate I was conflicted.”
Why were you conflicted? Was it because you were already full and continued to eat?
If so, that’s okay — as long as you only do it once in a while. Nobody is “perfect” and there are no perfect rules to eating.
You also state: “I was confused. I didn’t know what to do.”
It seems to me that you are so used to listening to others & doing & eating what others tell you to do, instead of slowly getting used to listening to yourself.
You need to start trusting yourself. You’re getting there. But it takes time.
You also should not analyze so much over every single morsel you put into your mouth. You said you had a good evening with your friends, but at the same time “also felt distracted and confused by what I was “supposed” to be doing.”
Food & eating should be enjoyment — not a time for stress. However, I do understand your stress. It takes time to learn how to NOT stress about food, but it takes time. It took you years to create these habits so it will take time to learn new ones.
March 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm
Hi, Dineen- yes, I was conflicted because I was full enough and yet I wanted to be able to eat the entrees, so I continued.
I guess that part of “trusting oneself” means a combination of body signals (fullness etc), social desires, and other things…?
Yeah, I think part of the angst was the total overanalyzing of every food morsel. That was crazy! I do want to be able to enjoy food, especially amazing meals like this one.