For the last 60 days I had all of my meals controlled by someone else. Every bite of food I put in my mouth was prepared for me. I picked it up every night to be consumed the next day. I had no choices in what was prepared other than a small selection of items to avoid (I only selected salmon and raw onions). My menu, macro-nutrients, and caloric intake were all decided by someone else. Fortunately for me, the food that was prepared aligned well with my overall food choices; whole foods that are sustain-ably sourced. Other than that, I “let go and let Paleta“.
Before I started the program I had some concerns. I had been avoiding most grains and dairy for the last couple of years and found that my body responded well to a higher fat diet. I went from eating every 2-3 hours to eating only 3 meals a day and not really needing snacks in between. I found myself wondering:
“What are they going to feed me?”
“How will my body respond to what they feed me?”
“Are they going to give me enough fat?”
“What if they don’t give me enough food? My BMR is XX, so I need XX to survive!”
“What if I’m hungry all the time??”
When it comes to food, I am still recovering from a scarcity mindset. I grew up in a house with an older brother and a step-dad who would pretty much eat all of something in one sitting, so I became very anxious when it came to getting my share of the food. To this day my brother teases me about hoarding candy, cereals, and chips in the drawers under my bed. My friends could also tell you some “comical” stories about my inability to share my food with my ex. The infamous ice cream debacle is a great one. And don’t you dare put your fork anywhere near my plate without clearing it with me first or me declaring I am done. That’s a great way to lose a limb…
I have always had anxiety around getting enough food. If there is a family dinner and I’m not near the front of the line to fill my plate, I spend the entire time watching each person serve themselves and getting more and more anxious as the food dwindles that there won’t be enough left by the time I get there. Needless to say, this translated into eating more than necessary a lot of times because I would take more than I needed “just in case” I wanted more and it wasn’t there when I returned, and since it was already on my plate I would just go ahead and finish eating it, resulting in feeling miserable afterward (Thanksgiving anyone?).
Over time I began to learn more about eating mindfully and the idea of a scarcity vs abundance mindset.
Eating mindfully = understanding your body’s hunger/full cues.
The clock should’t dictate your feeding schedule. If it’s noon and therefore technically “lunch time” as dictated by your work day and most of society, but you aren’t hungry, nobody says you have to eat something. I personally don’t even eat breakfast until 10am, so I’m usually not hungry again until around 1ish. I learned to listen to my body and when my stomach starts growling, I will eat something. To that same point, the contents on your plate should not dictate when you stop eating. Years and years of hearing your parents tell you to “eat all your food or no dessert, tv, etc.” creates eating habits that are contradictory to mindful eating. I tend to eat slower now and when I start to reach that point where I think I might be getting full, I stop eating. If there is still some left, I will save it for a snack or another meal later. Take that, mom and dad!
Which leads me to the next issue, scarcity vs. abundance.
When we operate from a scarcity mindset, we tell ourselves that whatever the resource is we are dealing with is finite. This creates anxiety, panic, and the need to hoard or consume whatever the resource is. For me and food, it meant I felt the need to split every food item directly down the middle, 50/50, with whomever I was sharing it with so I could eat it at my pace and they at theirs. It was the only way I could chill out about the food at hand. This can also cause us to tell ourselves that we have to eat whatever delicious item is in front of us in its entirety lest we NEVER EVER EVER have the chance to eat it again.
When we operate from an abundance mindset in regards to food, we realize that there will always be another opportunity to enjoy whatever we currently have in front of us and we can therefore consume it more mindfully. Instead of stuffing something in our pie-hole with reckless abandon, we can eat it slowly and decide with each bite if another one is worth taking.
Which brings me back to this doughnut (donut?)….
It was the very last day of the 60-day no-control-over-my-meals-whatsoever plan. Did I mention I also had no booze the entire time? Yeah, that happened. Anyway, I walk into the break room and see a box of donuts. Now, I’m not a big sweets person in general, but I love a good chocolate-glazed donut every once in a while because it reminds me of childhood and it’s fucking delicious. And there just so happens to be one in this box, so I ask one of the girls if she wants to split it with me because I wouldn’t normally be able to eat a whole one and feel good afterwards anyway.
I take it to the table with me and proceed to eat my lunch, letting this half of a chocolate-glazed donut stare at me the entire time and thinking about how excited I was to eat it once I finished my lunch. I finish my final I-have-no-control-over-this-meal-whatsoever soup and salad. I pick up the donut and admire it in all it’s chocolatey-glazed glory. I breathe in the smell, triggering flashbacks from my childhood, and then I take the first bite…
And the damn thing didn’t even taste good.
It was kind of stale and not as chocolatey as I was hoping and kind of a huge let down. So instead of eating the rest of it simply because I had been deprived of the choice to eat a damn donut for 60 days, I gave the rest of it to someone else sitting at the table.
Later that evening, after sharing this story with a few other friends, we decided to go to one of the best donut shops in town and get a real donut.
And THIS donut? You better believe I ate the whole damn thing. It was totally worth it and I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt about it.