Thursday, September 30, 2010

Intuition Combined with Restraint? I guess that's how I see it...

OK. So I made a comment under the previous post in response to Lanie. Got me thinking.

Maybe the issue is that I don't believe internal is all or external is all. I believe it works hand in hand. my experience, the external restraint has to be present so the internal cues aren't waylaid by habit, environment, or screwed up natural instinct.

Even animals, who one would imagine would be ruled by instinct and have "intuition" about eating, having not read diet books or been to WW meetings, get fat and will get fatter and fatter when presented with different environments or foods that trigger their "I want to eat til I die" response.

In nature, I imagine one's diet is pretty mundane and boring. I'm a lion. I eat: gazelle, gnu, gazelle, zebra, zebra, gazelle, wildebeest . But, basically, to eat that you have to run your butt off (literally) and it's still all raw meat, anyway you look at it. (Note: We do't have to run our butts off to get lots of food. We just have to drive to it or buy it.)

I'm a grazing cow. Out in the pasture. I eat: grass. grass. grass. Oh, I chewed a bug. Grass. And I"m out there standing on my feet all day in the pasture, moving around, finding nice bits of greener grass. (Note: We humans don't have to stand all day to eat enough. We sit and order it by phone.)

It's been shown in studies that when one has a diet that is repetitive, mundane, boring, one eats less. Add a smorgasbordian variety and people will eat MORE.

Environment and options change the game. This is why I have issues with intuitive eating. (I tried it in the past, but I believe it was called something else. Like...The Weigh Down Diet. I read Geneen Roth back in the, er, was it 80's? I forget. I know that the caloric restriction backlash is not new. The "get in touch with your hunger" notion is not new. Live long enough and flare bottoms and diet trends return.)

We live in a society with supermarkets and fast food purveyors GALORE. I have relatives who come from Cuba to visit, and they are speechless with astonishment at the amount and variety of foodstuffs and allstuffs that is readily available if you have the money to buy. They are agog.

Well, driving 4 blocks in my urban landscape presents my eyes with temptations St. Anthony knew not of. To the person trying to intuit or restrain themselves (internal, external), this society is not on your side. It's just not.

It's like sirens and Odysseus: the songs never fricken stop.

In the house: ads, bursting to the full refrigerators and pantries.
Out of the house: ads, food joints, relatives cooking, church potluck suppers, etc

I also believe that overeaters are fractured when it comes to the physiology and food intuition. I'm not saying that cannot be healed, mind you. I'm saying I believe that just as someone's moral compass can be cracked (original sin, the fall, or just plain a lousy nurturing), one's eating intuition can be damaged by disease, life, or continued self-indulgence and refusal to deny one's temptations. My body's physiology is screwed up just cause I'm fat (read up on the hormonal disruptions and the hunger/satiety hormone disruptions). My psyche is messed up from decades of letting myself eat what I want for years at a time. My emotions are used to telling me to eat when upset cause food gives me a rush. (Yes, I know, it is like being a junkie.)

My intuition is sooooo messed up, that I cannot trust it to tell me how to eat.

I must use my rational (non-emotional, non-endocrine affected) function to tell my body what it SHOULD EAT. Now, I can have a list of pleasurable foods that I allow on that list of the options, but it's still the MIND over EMOTION.

Emotional eaters trusting emotion?? Really??

I can't.

My emotions would have me ordering a pizza every other day. And on the other days, I'd be having cheese enchiladas and Kahlua mousse or Cuban roast pork sandwiches with lots of mojo.

My intuitive faculty went bonkers a couple decades ago.

Can it be sane again? Yah, sure. I believe in miracles. I believe in healing. I believe in change.

But I know that when people go by emotion and don't impose the reins of reason, the world gets mighty EFFED UP. When people only have reason, without cmopassion, the world is frigid.

So, maybe the solution is about melding the two aspects. Or better, three, by adding the spiritual--and thus completing the triune aspect of balance.

The mind can take the information necessary--be it nutritional, mathematical, personal--and let the emotions go THIS FAR. The rational aspect can keep a nice little eye on the intuitive and say, "yes, this far, no more, because your insanity is now showing." And the spirit can add support by connecting with the Power Source for self-control. (Well, remember, I am a person of faith, after all.) The spirit creates the luminous vision of the best possible self, body included.

When I did the intuitive thing, I consumed enough blue cheese dressing to scare the people of France into stopping shipments to Miami. I can seriously go whack on cheese.

On my current eating plan (which has, with only minimal moments of regain, been consistently but sloooooowly downward) been one that allows me to have my fave food of all (cheeses), but only THIS MUCH.

When I don't control how much, I can eat a pound. Intuitively, emotionally, I can scarf a pound of cheese without blinking.

But when I say to myself, "I'm hungry. What do I want? Oh, I want some cheddar with apples and crackers." Now my mind takes over: "You may have no more than 2 ounces of cheese and 8 crackers. And two apples."

My emotions and my intuition tell me what would give me pleasure, joy, and satisfaction. My mind tells me what is nutritional and wise and has to tell me the boundaries. My spirit can be guided by the higher moral aspect: "Eating is not just about mind or emotion. It's about the greater good, too."

Boundaries make life better.

Marriage is a beautiful thing. The boundaries that say my husband may not boink other women is limiting, but it's a limitation that is healthy for us to continue to have a bonded, trusting, healthy relationship where I can honestly say he's my soulmate. Without that boundary...why marry?

Well, why diet if the mind and the restriction the mind puts upon urges/desires/impulses is ignored???

Maybe I've misunderstood the Intuitive Eating movement...but it just seems like old hat. Been there, done that: got fatter.

I believe human beings are mind and body and spirit. What did the classical thinkers call that? Reason, emotion, will? I forget. Been a while since I studied the Big Thinkers (and I'm consequently getting stooooopid in my middle age.)

I don't believe that letting emotion lead is the smartest way to go. That's a surefire way to get in deep doodoo in the end.

Chances for success in any major life-altering endeavor--and make no mistake, losing 100+ pounds is life-altering and major and a huge change--is to engage the mind (reason, thinking), body (feeling, wanting, craving) and spirit (aspiring, willing, visionary).

So, well, what would that system be called? Holistic Eating?



cmoursler said...

boundaries are good. truer words were never spoken.

Allan said...

What Chris Said...

Lanie Painie said...

Excellent post! Mind, body and spirit is what it's all about! And that, my friend, is what the critics of mindful eating don't seem to understand.

And that is what "Women, Food, and God" is all about.