Much Bowl Musing Today

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As I continue to test out the new copper bowl, I muse on the comparisons to the pewter porringer and the bowls I have used in the past.  There was a time when a bowl would have been a bowl and nothing more.  Now I see the vast differences in bowls and how they affect my connections to eating.  I never realised the relationship before I started eating exclusively from one. 

I have always been a visual person, so the beauty of an object is has been more important than the utility of it.  At first, I sought heavy pottery bowls, rough with dripping glaze.  I loved the look of them, the feel of permanence by their weight and thickness.  I have found bowls that had an element of amusement, one having cat ears on the rim.  I loved the feel of heavy restaurant ware, thick with a smooth white glaze.  I then started moving towards the idea of permanence.  I imagined that if the bowl were to become so exclusive that I would only eat from my own personal bowl, I would need to carry it with me.  The idea of metal bowls became appealing.

Pewter is a soft metal, so it tarnished and scratches easily.  It has a simple charm I really like, and antique pieces bring in a new dimension of having a history.  Metal bowls are not as easy to hold in the hand with very hot or cold foods, often I have had to use a hot pad or keep the bowl on the table.  While in Hawaii, I found a stainless steel double walled rice bowl that I loved, it fit in the hand and was so easy to eat from.  It was very thin steel though and eventually a tiny crack allowed water to enter the compartment and it became a problem.  I am sure this new double walled bowl will not have the same issue, it is so much heavier and the edge is well sealed.

There is a different feel to the new bowl and the old mug.  It is always a nicer to sip with a curved rim on a cup, creating a natural seal with one’s lip and the curved edge.  The mug has a nice flair to the edge and I found myself enjoying that smooth curve against my lips.  The white china cup I have been using does not have that, making coffee drip down the side of the cup as I drink.  The curve to the edge of the copper bowl allows my thumb to have a resting place while supporting the bowl in my hand.  I realized that if I had soup in the copper bowl or some pan juices, I could easily sip from the bowl.  Funny to notice these things, even stranger to write them down. 

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I know it looks to be a mess, lunch yesterday was some leftover spinach, salami, smoked gouda and a few cocktail size sausages.  I wanted to use the leftovers before opening any new foods.  Seeing the bowl was only half full, I was wondered if it would be enough food to eat, but it was plenty.  I am still trying to get back to three bowls a day, but lately I am succumbing to snacking at evening coffee.  It’s become a habit since the holidays, one I need to break instantly.  Husband brought home more chocolates, which when presented to me, I usually have 3.  We stayed up until midnight again, so I had some unsalted raw peanuts for the hunger.  I am not a big peanut fan, so a handful (in the shell) are enough.  Dinner was chicken and parsnips.

I don’t feel as though I am eating too much but lately I feel huge and heavy.  By evening my legs and ankles are massive.  I am not happy about it at all and think I need to take a ketogenic dive and fast.  FINALLY husband will be working a full work week and I hope to take a deep plunge into as low carb as I can get, to see if I can shed this massive fluid retention.

I have had a reader ask me how to eat various foods in a bowl, so I thought I would write about that today.  I generally eat food that has been cut up previously, in an Asian style, I suppose, a mixture of meat and veggies for the most part.  Cutting up the food makes it easier to eat with a fork, spoon or chopsticks.  Sometimes I prefer to layer the food, so that I might have meat on the bottom, add some veggies on top and then some salad on top of that.  This way the salad is eaten first and stays fairly cold as there isn’t a lot of it.  This layering works when I want a sauce on the meat, but not particularly on the veggies (keeping the meat and sauce on the bottom layer).  Since I don’t eat breads (unless on a binge) I don’t deal with it bowl-wise, but I would imagine that a bagel or donut or a round roll would fit fine in most bowls.  Other odd shaped foods could be cut up, for instance, I suppose a slice of pizza could be cut in two and placed in the bowl. Part of the process is to discover how you feel and react to the confines of the bowl. 

The bowl is merely a representation of the stomach and what it can hold comfortably.  It is a marvellous teacher of the concept of enough.  It creates a process that is connected, such as choosing the bowl, finding the bowl pleasing, washing the bowl by hand, returning to the bowl for nourishment time and time again.  There is a natural mindfulness that is present when eating exclusively from the bowl that cannot be found on a plate or out of a bag or package.  The bowl is a challenge to ED who cannot stand the idea that maybe what can fit in the bowl to eat is actually enough.  ED is a glutton, wants no limitations, no restrictions, just hedonistic gorging.  The bowl can be filled more that once, but that re-fill is something we cannot help but notice and that is part of mindful eating.  Awareness.  The bowl causes natural awareness to the challenges of eating from it.

Trying to figure out what to put in the bowl and how to make it fit is the first challenge.  The decisions about how often to eat from it is another.  The work of maintaining a relationship with the bowl and the food inside it soon becomes apparent.  It’s all in what you put into it and what you get out of it that matters, and it will be a different experience for anyone who tries it.

Some people have commented that it is a great portion control method to eat from a bowl.  And I will say that it is true.  But there is so much more to it than just that.  I have tried portion control plates, divided sectioned plates and smaller plates, but none of them created a nurturing effect that a bowl does.  I think it has to do with the intimate shape, the way it fits into a hand and feels more a part of the eating experience.  I have never been able to feel the plate sitting on a table is a part of eating, it just looks like a way to keep the food from making a mess on the table.  It is separate from me, it is not held.  The same as eating with a knife and fork, it may be socially acceptable and all, but cutting up food with utensils on a plate is distant, remote, unconnected. 

I need the connection.  The long years of dieting and bingeing have caused a disconnect between me and food and the act of eating.  To hide my shame in bingeing, I became a secretive eater, hiding food, eating alone, pretending that I did not eat that much.  I caused myself horrid social situations because I was on a strict diet.  Food became an enemy and I was so miserable.  The bowl brought back a chance at a positive experience with eating, a nurturing gift of love towards myself.  Since the bowl, my stomach has gotten use to less and I think that has helped severely reduce the mass consumption binges to overeating episodes.  Eventually, I am hoping to drop bingeing altogether as I continue to find peace from eating from a simple bowl.

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Happy New Year!

Yesterday’s Meals:

Porringer 1- 2 eggs, 2 rashers, 2 cup coffee with 4 tsp. double cream
Porringer 2- pot of tea, pot of pate
Porringer 3- glass of wine, kebab meat, swede, leek, curry sauce

Evening coffee- 2 cup coffee with 4 tsp. double cream, 3 humbugs, 2 chocolates
Later- pot of tea, 2 slices cheddar, 3 slices salami

With husband’s many days off, we have been slipping into staying up later, usually midnight and getting up around 7-8am.  As we eat dinner at 4-5pm, we do get hungry later.  I have continued to stay with my porringer and found that the bit of cheese and salami is plenty to satisfy those late night hours. 

I had planned on writing up a big 2012 review of all that affected my eating choices, going over it in minute detail, but here, today, on Hogmanay, I am not really wanting to do it.  I would much rather take care of today and let the past year and the new year be and become what it did or will.  I am putting on my Zen hat today.

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2012 was indeed a year I won’t soon forget. I lived in Hawaii, Colorado and Scotland.  I played with my grandchildren, swam in the Pacific ocean, walked my grandson to school every day in the tropical misty rain.  I re-joined husband in Colorado and together, we let go of 90% of all we owned and shipped the 10% to the UK.  We visited London and Stonehenge, drove up through Wales and the English country side to our new home in Scotland.  What an amazing adventure that was!  It was fun getting to know our new home, getting the chance to see Edinburgh and Lock Lomond before turning in the car rental.  Never did such an adventure ever seem possible to me, and here I am living it. 

Lately, I have been feeling a sense of peacefulness and calm.  I have not been overly reactive to the perpetual small binges I keep alive.  I have not reprimanded myself or allowed the new year diet hoopla get under my skin.  When I am calm, I am less reactive and less likely to over react and make rash decisions that are not going to solve the issue at hand.  I have felt the pull several times to begin the new year with watertight weight loss resolutions and then I smile and realize that what nonsense that all is.  Sounds noble, seems plausible and yet it has never been the true catalyst to change.  2012 brought a lot of changes for me, but I think starting the Pewter Porringer blog has helped me understand my disordered thoughts about myself, my eating and the path I really want to take to let wellbeing blossom and thrive.

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My few remaining not-so-optimal eating decisions are very easy to remedy without making it a major battle cry of reform.  There is no overhaul to accomplish, I do not need to start at square one, I am well on my way as it is.  I need to continue to practice the teachings of Buddha and allow myself to fully experience the here and now by being present in my own life.  The porringer continues to be my guide that keeps eating in balance.  For 2013, I want to drop all eating out of hand and eat exclusively from the porringer to see what that experience brings me.  I also want to let go of built up resentments, fears and stop the grumpy old woman from taking residence in my body, heart and mind.

There are a few celebratory foods for today planned.  I am making husband lamb chops for dinner and I am having steamed cod with melted butter.  With that, creamed spinach and he gets his beloved potatoes.  We have an extraordinary bottle of wine to go with it.  Later, closer to midnight, I will prepare a cheese and salami tray, husband will get ryvita and we will have an Irish coffee (with whisky) to go with it.   There are two small bars of dark chocolate and a box of 7 ice cream snickers bars.  Of that stuff, I do not know what I will have, because I have learned not to plan or make rules about food in advance, because it sets off ED like nothing else.  I keep my mind clear so that he hasn’t anything to say and I decide at the last minute what to have or not have, letting how I feel in that moment take care of itself.  It took me a very long time to trust myself in making decisions, I use to believe that if I did not have a plan in place I would fail.  What a joke that was, because all the planning in advance never kept me from bingeing if that is what ED got the upper hand in.  If ED knows I am resolute on not eating something, I can be damned sure he’ll find a way to change my mind!  Why give him that power?  Keep him guessing always works to MY advantage.

So Happy New Years to all of you!  Keep on dancing!

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Unbalanced but Not Unhinged

I really hate acknowledging that I am back here in the recovery period once again.  It feels like I am unbalanced and I need to find that equilibrium I feel comfort in.  At least I am not in the war zone, just on the outside edge of it. I do feel the carb muck though.  Damn it.

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Husband finished off the last of the Christmas goodies (the ones I had bought for family presents and could not afford to mail) last night and I was so relieved to know they were finally gone and our cupboard is healthy again.  He commented on the fact we can’t seem to leave anything in the house of this nature alone, but when I thought about it, it was not necessarily true.  This time around, we had those goodies for more than a day or two.  They lasted 12 days!  And as I mentioned yesterday, each day I ate a reasonable amount and not anything related to a binge.  Still, the carb muck has caused me illness once again.  I hate how this feels.

I have to be careful though before thinking I ought to pat myself on the back for keeping reason present, because this is the slippery slope of an eating disorder.  It is false illusions of grandeur.  I was heading straight to the hell pit, it was only a matter of time.  For those of us with disorder thinking about food, it is no different than an alcoholic having a bottle of wine and thinking they are in control because they used to drink 4 in one sitting.  I was not having 2 biscuits with tea, I was having 6 and that deludes me into thinking I am eating normally.

It’s a self depreciating joke, thinking we are cured of the desire for excess just because we exercised a modicum of control in one particular moment.  Those moments do shift and change in circumstances.  The next moment may open the gapping hole wider and another bottle is reached for and we drown ourselves trying to fill the hole that cannot be filled.  Whether food or booze or drugs, we will never have more than a modicum of control and it cannot last forever.  Addiction doesn’t happen to just vanish over night no matter how badly we want it to.  It is always present within.  Always there waiting for another chance to bring us back to the hell hole of excess.  The only thing we can control 100% is not taking the first bite, sip or hit of the substance that takes us down that path.

But changes are happening.  I am routinely experiencing a delay between the urge and the consumption which helps me chose to stop before consuming.  There is a longer process to the point of an actual binge.  The pleasure factor is no longer present, not even slightly.  That lure is broken.  I certainly cannot consume what I use to be able to (thank you porringer for that!).  That is definitely a life saver for me right now.  I get sick sooner and on smaller amounts.  But I also know that it is a matter of time before I slip back into the ability to consume larger and more frequent quantities.  I am quicker to respond to the need to return to feeling better than ever before, but I understand that I will never be cured. 

I am also returning to managed eating without dieting even those I still fight the intense urge to fix my problem with a weight loss diet.  I caught myself considering whether to use my diet software again when I was checking my overall balance of food intake yesterday.  I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that once I know the general intake amounts, I have an idea of where I am at with nutrients and I can then proceed from there.  I do not need to monitor every bite, weigh every morsel because I eat the same foods and the same amounts every day.  Changing up the meat or the veggies will not matter.  Too much reliance on numbers makes for disordered thinking about food.  Been there millions of times, I know where it leads.

I expect this recovery period to take about 2 weeks, or basically to the end of the year.  While this is about the most difficult time of year to manage eating, I think with a few wise selections I can be perfectly happy with the season’s offerings and not set up my other nemesis, deprivation.  We have no parties to attend to, we have no family dinners to deal with, we are just home alone and I can provide good healthy meals and we can limit the treats to the Irish whisky’s and I plan on making marzipan pigs for the rice porridge gifts (our Danish tradition).  In the meantime, it is back to managed eating.