‘What ONE piece of advice do you have for chronic ‘dieters’ who really, really want to be successful this time around?’
LEARN what HUNGER really feels like.
I was brutally honest with myself when I started this journey 3+ years ago. I knew that I had a really big problem, a really unhealthy relationship with food. And that I was going to be trying to stabilize blood sugars, get off of insulin, lose weight AND trying to find answers to some complicated food issues. ALL at the same time.
I like to keep things interesting.
I knew that perhaps my biggest hurdle was that I fundamentally did not understand hunger.
My body had NOT BEEN HUNGRY in years. I didn’t know the feeling.
I was so, so used to simply eating because it was mealtime, or I passed the frig, or it was in front of me, or because it was a special occasion, or…
And I’m not alone. In any conversation with folks who have lots to lose, at some point our conversation will come around to hunger. And the ways we ignore it, abuse it, refuse to allow it to happen…
I had to figure out what it meant to be hungry if I was EVER going to get a handle on overeating.
I was pretty sure that the only way to have long-term success was going to be tied to whether I could feel, understand and respond to hunger.
So I came up with a trick that would a) teach me to understand what hunger was and b) wouldn’t mess too badly with my blood sugar.
Honeycrisp apples to be specific.
I put a BUCKET of apples in the fridge.
And I made a deal with myself…
Anytime I thought I was hungry and it really didn’t make sense for me to be hungry (had just eaten lunch, had eaten most of my calories for the day, etc…) I could eat an apple.
And only an apple.
IF I was indeed hungry enough to eat an apple… Then I was probably legitimately hungry.
IF I was NOT hungry enough to eat an apple… Then I was simply cruising for food out of HABIT or bored or emotions or…. I would eat nothing.
If I was NOT hungry enough to eat an apple — I was not hungry.
I used apples to train myself to at least STOP and recognize if what I was experiencing was TRUE hunger.
The worst day I had? I ate 6 apples. 🙂
I had days where I just couldn’t tell if I was hungry or mentally craving food/comfort/company. So I ate apples. Burden/guilt free… I was trying to teach myself to learn something new, so I gave myself permission to eat as many apples as needed.
And BOY did I learn. And man alive did I eat a lot of apples those first few months. 🙂
Just this week I had to buy another big ol’ bag of apples and put it front-and-center in the fridge to REMIND me to listen to my hunger. And not just eat because I’m bored or tired or frustrated or lazy.
I don’t think we are ever done learning.
And as much as you do NOT want to hear this… I don’t know that we — if we have a food addiction/issues/overeat — are EVER off the hook. We have to stay vigilant about not letting the bad behaviors creep back in.
Which is why there is a big bag of apples in my fridge even after 3+ years on this journey.
I find it ironic and fun that while we give apples to teachers as gifts, in my case APPLES have BEEN my teachers. 🙂