Friday, June 22, 2007

The Ice Cream Incident

Periodically my mom, her sisters and her cousin get together for lunch. Often my sister, cousin and I will join them, sometimes with our kids. These "lunches" often go three or four hours as we talk and catch up with everyone's lives. Yesterday was another meeting, and there were 10 of us, so we went to our local soft serve ice cream diner that has picnic tables outside where we could all sit and make as much noise as we wanted for as long as we wanted.

I ordered the special -- a Buffalo Chicken Wrap with Fries -- and immediately split the fries with my daughter. The wrap was cut in two, so I ate the first half and took a break as we all sat and talked and looked at photographs we had brought along. My mother was eyeing up my remaining wrap and I told her she could help herself, and she took a couple bites of it. All of this behavior is kind of new for me -- in the past I've always been very possessive of my food and only grudgingly sharing it with people. I think the IE principle that "there's always more food" is finally sinking in and I'm no longer acting like a starving dog snarling over my bowl of kibble.

After a while I did finish most of the wrap, although I left a few bites behind that were mostly the wrap with no meat or vegetables. Again, in the past I probably would have finished those bites off as a Clean Plate Club member, but I figured it would be more of a waste to put that extra filler in my stomach.

I noticed that both my sister and my Mom were still hungry after their meals and ordered extra onion rings. I didn't judge it as bad or good -- just observing -- and also noted that I felt right on that border of satisfied/pleasantly full. I also watched some of the others and how they ate. My one aunt, who I consider a normal albeit a finicky eater, caught my attention. She eats so slowly -- she'll take big breaks in between bites, even putting her utensils down to use her hands to illustrate a point -- and you can tell she has a healthy relationship with food. She enjoys it, but it doesn't rule her life.

Not much later the table began ordering dessert: hot fudge or peanut butter sundaes, strawberry shortcake with ice cream, chocolate dipped ice cream cones. I checked in with my body and found myself still completely satisfied, and when it came my turn to order, I simply said, "I'm not hungry right now. Maybe later."

This was such an exhilarating experience for me. In the past at these lunches I've often gone without any dessert or ordered the smallest, lowest fat thing on the menu, and either way I felt martyred and deprived. Or else I would order the biggest, calorie-laden treat they had and go on to binge the rest of the day in What the Hell/Last Supper mode.

Instead, I felt extremely content. I knew I didn't feel hungry, wasn't craving anything, and I didn't feel deprived; in fact, I felt great that I was honoring my body's signals. I knew that if I got hungry later I could certainly have ice cream or anything else I happened to crave, and this made me feel at ease that I wasn't missing out on anything. Best of all, when Mabel got through a third of her ice cream cone and decided she was full, I didn't go into the Mom the Garbage Can mode and finish it off for her -- I wasn't even in the slightest bit tempted. I didn't want her leftovers of a dessert I would never order for myself, and I let it go. Again, in observation mode, I noticed my mom was the one who ate it. Could it be I learned this behavior from her? Very likely.

A few hours later, after we left the luncheon, took Mabel for her allergy shot and made it home, I then felt like having ice cream, and I got out the Edy's carton of low fat ice cream and orange sherbet I bought a few days ago. First of all, I have to mention that I bought this on Tuesday and didn't open it until Thursday, which is an accomplishment in itself. Secondly, I got out one of Mabel's little kid bowls and scooped out a portion that was probably somewhere between 1/2 to 1 cup. In the past I might have eaten a ton of it to "make up" for depriving myself at lunch time. But I ate this amount and felt completely satisfied and didn't want any more. Thirdly, can I say that Edy's Slow Churned ice cream is great? I still can't believe it's low-fat. Miracle workers, I tell you.

So there it is, my Ice Cream Incident. While I can't say I follow the IE principles to a T all day, every day, this is one of those moments that gets a gold star and should be filed under Success Stories in my mental records. It's a relief that my vacation hasn't derailed my ongoing work, I'm pleased that this way of thinking and eating is becoming more natural for me, and it gives me hope that someday this will all be second nature and completely normal.


Beula said...

I keep telling myself, "There is plenty more where this came from. And you are never going to starve, never." We are going to a barbecue tomorrow night. I had to make the dessert. I made my whipped cream, choc. pudding, cream cheese, walnut and flour crust one dish thing. I love this stuff. I licked the beaters, put the lid on the rest of it, and thought if I want some, I can have some tomorrow night. So far not even a temptation. If fact I think it may be too sweet. In the past I'd have had to have a big square of it just to see if, "it tasted okay to take out." This is progress. Good luck with the weekend.

Jen said...

Good for you! You have such a great attitude, and you continue to inspire me. Now to just do something with that inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Andrea, how wonderful for you! I am in such awe about your progress and ability to eat mindfully.