Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An Unconventional Day

Yesterday was a real experiment in Intuitive Eating. Before lunch my Mom stopped by my office with my daughter (she babysat Mabel while Hubby was at his last day of school), and they stayed and hung out for a while. Mom had just gone to the dollar store and cracked open a can of cashews, and since I was beginning to get hungry, I took a handful and slowly ate them as I finished up my work for the day. Nuts have always been a "danger" food for me in my dieting/restricting days, one of those high calorie no-nos that often became a trigger food. But I was determined to break that old association with nuts and teach myself that I can eat a handful of nuts without starting binge mentality.

The nuts tided me over a little while, but when I got home I was still hungry and I threw together a fish sandwich to eat before Mabel and I went shopping. I normally eat a larger lunch, but the nuts had apparently taken care of some of my usual appetite and I was content with the sandwich.

Several hours later after some shopping at the mall, Mabel was finally hungry for lunch, and she wanted to go to the food court. She decided on the Japanese hibachi place and ordered the chicken teriyaki with rice and vegetables. I grabbed two forks, feeling kind of hungry but not ravenous. She and I split the meal, and when we were done I felt satisfied, not full.

By the time we got home it was 5 o'clock. Hubby called and asked if it was okay if he grabbed a bite to eat with some teacher friends of his, and I told him that was great, because Mabel and I were quite content with our early supper.

An hour later, however, Mabel wanted ice cream, and I decided I could go for some, too, so we went and I got one of my favorite sundaes. I ate it all, felt comfortably full when I was done, and that was it for the rest of the day.

While it may have not have been the healthiest food in the world, I was pleased that I was able to eat "unconventionally" for the day. If I had been in "free" (not dieting or overeating) mode, I would have eaten half the container of cashews, or if I didn't, I would have felt deprived or triggered and eaten a big lunch. I would have ordered my own meal or something equivalent from the food court when Mabel ordered hers , then very likely would have had supper on top of that. And ice cream? Hey, at that point, what the heck? And I might have topped that off later that evening with whatever "bad" food was lying around the house.

There's something nice about what I consider eating like a kid. I didn't eat according to a schedule, I ate what I wanted and didn't think about fat grams or sodium, and I didn't sit around afterwards feeling stuffed and bloated.

And I wasn't worrying about how I'd fit in my bathing suit next week. In fact, I was actually pleased that during my clothes shopping that the L size (14-16 in this certain store) in the misses' section fit the best. It's so odd for me to walk past the women's section now, and even more bizarre that I'm bypassing the XLs in the regular section. Crazy!

I even had another one of those light bulb moments last night about emotional triggers. My Hubby made a comment that instantly made me defensive, angry, and sad, and sent me into the "I can't do anything right" martyr mode. But it only took just a few short minutes for me to dissect this and realize what was going on. My rational side told me that Hubby didn't make the comment to criticize and degrade me. In fact, he was talking about an inanimate object, but I was connecting myself to it and associating myself with the criticism because I was the one who bought it. While he does have this habit of speaking in a tone that comes off harsh and critical, I've been around him enough to know that this often isn't his intention.

I looked at the incident and statement objectively and tried to find a reason why it triggered this emotional response. I immediately realized that his tone was very reminiscent of my father, and my reaction to him in those moments was to always feel hurt, rejected and that I couldn't do anything right.

Once I put these things together, I was intrigued to find that while I had solved why I felt this way, all of those feelings didn't magically disappear. Although the feelings of anger and hurt had dissipated, I was still a little defensive and irritated. I thought about this and realized I would just have to ride them out -- as I've learned, there are no emotions that I can't handle. The funniest thing was, while I was irritated, I actually found myself laughing to myself about it, because I knew it was based on ancient history and that my feelings would quickly pass.

The best part was when Hubby and I finally went to bed. He asked me if I was all right, and instead of taking the passive route of saying "Yeah, I'm fine," I began to tell him about what he did and my response to it. He immediately tried to defend himself and I interrupted him, telling him it wasn't necessary, because I already knew he didn't say it to attack me. I explained to him how I recognized the trigger and figured out why it brought out these emotions in me.

Not only was I able to share my feelings, which is huge progress for me, I was able to do it in a way that didn't cause an argument or make Hubby feel defensive. Hopefully he realized that sometimes the way he talks has this old association for me, and perhaps in the future he just might remember that and try to tone it down a little.

I guess it was an unconventional day all around. While this feels so new and exciting right now, I'm hoping this becomes the norm and those old days of dieting and binge eating become a thing of the distant past.


Beula said...

Mark says he now has multiple personalities. Says he only had one when we married but over the years I have grafted a dozen more on to him.... I hate it when he is right.

LMM said...

Thank you for the fresh perspective of when my husbands words hit me like criticism - it's not so much that it is criticism - it is that it brings back childhood father/daughter conflicts.

Helen said...

That's great how you dealt with your feelings about what Hubby said...I have similar situations sometimes with DB and, like you, I think I'm learning to realize that it's not always (maybe never?) his intention to hit that button with me. At moments like that (when I realize something about ME through my interaction with him), I love him even more than usual...and I love me too. ;-)