Why am I eating 3 bowls of food a day?
There is nothing magical about 3 bowls. I don’t expect anything to happen, no cause and effect to obsess over. I asked myself that question this morning when I stepped on the scale and asked myself if what I am doing is working? This past summer I was still counting the weeks from the diet which I lost 88 pounds and was now on constant ups and downs of bingeing and dieting for the past year. I weigh more than this today.
It struck me that I was once again looking for the object I was standing on to tell me if what I was doing was working.
I read this morning a woman becoming unglued because she had not eaten anything the day before and still weighed the same the next morning. It caused so much distress, she binged. Her weight that did not change? 130 pounds. I have never weighed 130 during my adult life. To me, what she weighs is an impossible dream, to her it was being fat.
Another blog I read was frustrated at the amount of effort and dedication it took to stay on their stringent diet for so little weight loss. Oh, how I have moaned about that myself! Obviously, it matters not what a person actually weighs, it seems that there is no satisfaction in it, or it becomes such an issue that everything else surrounding healthy changes pales in comparison.
Those blog thoughts and echo’s of my own experiences slapped me upside the head this morning. I was standing on the scale because I needed to know if eating three bowls of food was working for me. It’s okay to laugh, because it is true, that makes no sense. Am I expecting weight loss? Am I expecting a reward for eating in a prescribed manner? Is the number on the scale the only reward (or punishment) of eating this way can bring?
Why am I eating three bowls of food? If my body size never changed, if I remained obese the rest of my life, would I continue to eat this way? That is a crucial question, because for most disordered eating dogmas, if the reward of weight loss is not swift enough, bingeing is the immediate and even swifter reward/punishment which is far more dramatic than waiting for the scale to show a drop. It is as if I have always needed something intense to happen. I have never given neutrality the accolades it deserves.
I have been feeling calm and a sense of ease for the last week. I haven’t had any negative thoughts that come with restrictive eating. I haven’t had any overwhelming urges to binge. The day is on more neutral ground. I only realised this while watching my husband struggle with the impulses to treat himself with candy and teacakes while home on vacation. I saw in him what I was doing just the week before. I watched the balance swing from not enough to too much. Three bowls of food keep me in-between those extremes. My mood is not swinging in the extremes either. A stable mood is far more pleasant than being in the depths of despair over bingeing or the false highs of making it through a starvation day.
I can answer my question now. I am eating three bowls of food because I like how I feel, both emotionally and physically. It is pleasant. I am nourished; I am not starving, nor am I stuffed and uncomfortable. My thoughts are less food and weight obsessive. I know I can take my lovely pewter bowl and put food in it and sit down and eat it. I feel secure that the amount is never too much or too little. I know the types of food that work well to keep me satisfied until the next meal. I know which foods stir up the crazies. I feel as though I am taking care of myself, gifting myself with food. The bowl is ever constant, it does not shape shift from bowl to plate to takeaway containers. It hold just so much food and I have a lid to help keep the stacking tendency within boundaries.
I chose “three” as a standard because it fits with my usual eating pattern of three meals a day, it actually feels comfortable to me like wearing old slippers, it fits. When I chose 4 bowls, I thought about food more often. I had to make one more decision regarding food for the day. It brought me into the realm of snacking which always led me to bingeing. I found it more trying to fit in the 4th bowl. It felt like I was eating too much which was not true but messed with my thinking enough to make me not enjoy it. So here I am, noting how the old habit of getting on a scale makes me think that the only good result of changing my eating is weight loss. What a lie that is! It’s all about feeling nourished and well.
If you are interested in my method, I highly recommend a book called One Bowl by Don Gerrard. This fabulous book introduced me to reconnecting to eating in a positive way. It is a small book filled with little experiments in how we perceive our eating experience by using a bowl. I have done the experiments over the years and always returned to it when my dieting and bingeing dragged me into a really dark place.
Chose a bowl that really pleases you, one that only you will eat from. This bowl becomes the symbolic gift of nurturing and caring for yourself. There are thousands of artist bowls, from the finest bone china to the heaviest drip glazed pottery. There are wooden bowls, antique bowls, modern….every imaginable kind. Choose one that real makes you smile. Eating from a bowl forces you to confront all kinds of eating ideas we cling so hard to. How do you fit a slice of pizza in a bowl? How do you eat a meal that has side dishes like a salad or a roll? How do you eat foods that you are so used to cutting with a knife and a fork on a plate?
Eating from a particular bowl means you have to wash it before the next meal. Washing the bowl becomes a part of the process of eating. It may end up signalling the end of a meal as if does for me. Eating from the bowl means I don’t eat from packages or out in public walking down the street. It forces me to think about why I eat what I do and how much more I eat if I don’t have to wash any dishes and only have to throw away a wrapper or package.
In the beginning, eat as many bowlfuls as you want or need. Do not restrict what foods go in the bowl, part of reconnecting to eating is allowing the bowl to guide you into connecting with the process of eating. Let it take on it’s own life and watch your thoughts try to work themselves around the new challenges. Enjoy!