Friday, 4 December 2009

Week 13: Day 89 ***FOOD TALK***

Today I ate.

I really want to write "I was naughty" or "I cheated" here, but I wasn't and I didn't. I'm not a victim or a child, and I wasn't "disobeying" anyone when I did it. I ate. Normal food. At lunchtime.

I went to lunch with some of my colleagues and I was playing with the idea of having some food. To be completely honest I was also playing with the idea of sticking to the plan - not out of guilt, but because I wasn't sure what I wanted.

When we got to the pub I ended up ordering a Ploughman's - I figured if I wanted to break the diet I could, and if not I could just have the cold meats and salad. In the end I had a couple of pieces of bread, some ham and some blue cheese.

I can honestly say it was through a desire to push the boundaries, to see what would happen, to experiment. Well, it was mostly experimentation - some of it was, well, not peer pressure exactly - no one was trying to force me to do anything - but I suppose part of me wanted to appear "normal" in front of my colleagues. I've been in abstinence for so long - and I'm new - that I do feel a little bit like a freak.

That said, a lot of it was experimentation. I mean, what would happen if I ate some cheese and bread? Would it be AMAZING? Would I explode? Would I put on immediately the 2.5 stone I'd just lost? And - more importantly - could I find my way back to the plan?

Since I've started LLL a week ago everything has gone up the creek a bit. My water consumption has gone way down (I attribute this mainly to the novelty of being able to drink milk in my coffee - something that's actually caused a tummy upset through - hopefully temporary - mild lactose intolerance), one day I forgot to have a pack and one day I forgot to have a meal! At my second LLL meeting yesterday it turned out I'd lost a pound, which I was actually happy with as I wasn't expecting to lose at all.

Anyway, so I had the bread and cheese. And it was nice. It was good quality bread and good quality cheese, and it was nice to eat those things again. But was it AMAZING? No. Actually, I don't know. I ate too fast to really notice. And I think I ate too fast because I wasn't sure of my motivations for eating, so I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. And did I explode? No. I wasn't even ill, despite my apparent lactose intolerance.

And was it worth it? Well, no and yes.

No because I was so concerned about eating that I didn't take the time to appreciate the taste. The whole way through abstinence I thought that when I finally eat again, I will enjoy it - I will taste every morsel that goes into my mouth. I will roll it over my tastebuds savouring the texture, the heat, the sweet and sour and salt of it.

But I didn't do that. And if you're not going to do that - for whatever reason - it's not worth eating something that's going to do you more harm than good. If you're going to eat a cake, make sure it's a cake you really like, and that you enjoy every moment of eating it. Otherwise what's the point?
Yes because I realised that:

Food is just food. It fills you up. It tastes nice or it doesn't taste nice. That's kind of it. Food isn't love, or comfort, or anything. It's just food. And it's not worth damaging yourself over.

And did I come back to the plan? Yes. I did wobble a couple of times. I normally have a third pack at work, but I was stuffed after lunch (unsurprisingly) so I didn't manage it. On the way home I started to get hungry (but LL-hungry, not proper-hungry) but thought about not having another pack because I'd eaten at lunchtime - not to keep my calories down but, I guess, to punish myself for having eaten.

But then I decided that punishing myself - especially with food, or with witholding food - was a thing of the past for me.

Then, when I got home my boyfriend decided to have cheese on toast for dinner and I asked him if he'd make me one, too. I was thinking "well, I ate for lunch so I may as well eat for dinner and restart LLLing tomorrow..."

But then I thought about it, and asked myself why I wanted to do this. It was 50% naughtiness and 50% of that general oh-it's-cold-and-it's-dark-and-it's-Friday feeling. Which, I realised with perfect clarity, wasn't a good enough reason to eat something that wasn't totally good for me. 

I guess I realised it was an emotional decision - and I realised this in the moment, not in a learned "LL" way (if that makes sense). It felt natural to question this; I mean, if I make a drastic emotional decision while in the throes of pre-menstrual hormonal weirdness ("Well she's not my friend anymore, she looked at me funny!") I never allow myself to act on them - purely because they're based on emotion and not reason and evidence.

So why would I eat some cheese on toast when I was trying to do something good for myself, and the cheese on toast might sabotage that?

I thought that with absolute clarity, and it made total sense. So in the end I had a big cup of tea, some fizzy water and flavouring, a food pack (chili con carne flavour! Actually very edible although it looked awful - but it was lovely to have something hot and savoury that wasn't soup) and a peanut bar and I honestly feel totally fulfilled.

If I'd had the cheese on toast I'd probably have wolfed it down like my lunch then sat around trying to feel content but actually disappointed in myself, and angry with myself because I broke my diet then didn't have the grace to feel happy about it. I know that sounds weird. It also sounds exhausting, and I can't believe I've put myself through this cycle of eating the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, then beating myself up over various aspects of it, for so many years!

So essentially I'm glad I ate today, because it showed me how I really feel about food, and that I can come back from it. Going down that slippery slope is totally dependent on my decisions, and I have the power to make the right decisions for me.

I still plan to eat over Christmas - but those are going to be events - those are going to be situations where I sit down and savour what I'm eating and drinking. The whole idea around eating over the holiday is that I enjoy all aspects of it - even the food - and not to do it because I want to feel like "a normal".

And then I'll come back to the plan. It doesn't have to be a massive deal.

I don't know if I knocked myself out of ketosis or not - I don't feel hungry (just having sucrose-coated tablets unwittingly during abstinence caused me to be constantly ravenous) but even if I am out of ketosis I should get back into it in a few days. I can handle it - I've done it before.

It's funny - at my LLL meeting yesterday I was feeling a bit cross because everyone there seems to cheat habitually. All the ladies were talking about how much wine they'd drunk at the weekend, etc., and after having been abstinent for 3 months it really riled me. But here I was, today, eating. I suppose a lot of it was fuelled by the ladies' eating, and seeing whether I would become this "part-time dieter" too if I did it.

But here's the thing. I don't intend to do this diet again. I don't even think of it as a diet so much as a programme to reset my thinking and behaviours around eating. We were all asked to set some end of January goals during the meeting. Here are mine:

1. Walk back to the further station after work 3 times a week.

2. Plan my daily meals a week in advance, and prioritise and give myself enough time the day before each meal to make them.

3. Learn 6 new heallthy and tasty recipes (and a couple of not so healthy ones).

4. Lose 7lbs.

The last one was a bit of an afterthought! I'm really just thinking about how I can improve myself, my self-trust, my independence from food and from others, and from feeling like a victim and a failure. It's almost as though, with all the lessons I'm learning, losing weight is only a by-product. Which, I suppose, is how it should be.

And it's interesting because I can see what I'm doing: LLL has been such a massive change that my inner saboteur has had a field day. She's helped me to "stop noticing" that I'm not drinking enough water. She's told me not to worry when I've had milk and had a stomach ache immediately afterwards. She let me be organised for the first couple of days, but towards the end of the week she kept me busy so I didn't prepare the lunches I'd planned etc., and it all got a bit random and vague and disorganised.

Making my goals, meeting these cheaty women, questioning how successful they're going to be AND doing my own little experiment has helped me to refocus. I only want to lose 7lbs or so. I may actually put on weight over Christmas.

But it made me aware of the dangers of complacency and how, if I'm not careful, my inner saboteur would like nothing better than to undo all the hard work I've completed.

And a final note to anyone on LL or LLL who's thinking about eating normal food: I'm not going to tell you not to. But remember, during your diet you'll have built up carbs and sweets and normal food up in your mind until they're these towering, glorious, mouthwatering treats. But what you'll probably find is that it's just food. It's just bread. It's just cheese. It's just cake.

It's just food. And it's not so fucking delicious that it's worth you breaking your promise to yourself.

Just keep that in mind.


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