I mentioned in my last post my therapist suggesting that intuitive eating might be the way for me to go, and how at first I was intrigued – even excited – then, freaked out. We talked more about it on Friday, and while I'm still feeling very doubtful as to my ultimate success in implementing such a plan (hey, decades of failure will do that to a person), it does sound like a more attractive and viable option in the practice – not least because I've never done anything like that before.
That's the very thing that makes me both hopeful and fearful – the fact that I've never tried it before. For almost as long as I can remember, I've either been doing one of two things: dieting, or bingeing while thinking about dieting. "Normal" eating is something I've never done – something I didn't feel I had the right to do while I was overweight. In a way, it's as though I felt I had to earn my way to normal eating by getting to my right weight.
What is normal eating, anyway? For someone who really hasn't done it herself, I think I have a fairly good idea – I once wrote about my friend Lynn as my "health hero," not because she is in incredible shape or shows remarkable restraint in her eating and exercise habits, but because she doesn't stress about those things. She maintains a healthy weight and an active lifestyle (made up of walking, biking, and other, non-gym-related activities) and, for the most part, eats sensibly while allowing herself the occasional cheeseburger or dessert.
My plan was to work on eating "normally" once I'd reached my preferred weight – but I've reached my goal weight several times in the last decade or so and was not able to sustain "normal" eating for more than a week or so at a time, if that. Considering that, in order to reach my goal weight I had had to show uncharacteristic restraint in following a pretty strict diet, it begs the question, why couldn't I follow a less rigid eating plan once I was at a weight where I felt comfortable with myself?
T (my therapist) made a statement that surprised me...she said that, for someone with BED, dieting always leads to a binge – maybe sooner, possibly even a year or more later – and because of that, a person with BED can't "diet" in the manner of a person who does not have BED.
I thought about this statement a lot in the days after she made it, and I can't find any evidence contrary to what she she said.
A lot of it has to do with feelings of deprivation. T asked me how I responded when, say, my mother had denied me some food as a child because she was concerned about my weight. I replied that I would generally feel sullen and resentful, and more often than not, find a way to sneak what I had been denied and eat it in secret later (a hallmark of BED). This, T explained, is a primary characteristic of someone with BED.
It's odd...looking back, I never thought of myself as having been a defiant child, and I never felt good at all about sneak-eating. I sometimes think my desire for the forbidden thing may have been born out of some sort of fear of never getting to have it, as well as the comforting "buzz" that comes from bingeing.
But I guess that's what intuitive eating is, in part – eliminating that fear by not eliminating anything from one's diet (and by "diet" in this sense I mean one's way of eating), instead practicing moderation?
T recommended a couple of books on the subject that I've downloaded to my Kindle and intend to start today. I was happy when she said to take the things I could use from them, but not necessarily to view either or both of them as gospel in every word – these days I'm wary of anyone who suggests there's only one right way to go about things, particularly when it comes to eating or exercise!