Sunday, February 21, 2016

Clean Your Plate

Last night, a friend and I took our boys to an indoor trampoline park and out for dinner afterwards to a burger joint.  In the course of conversation, we were discussing our attitudes to food, and our lifetime odysseys with food, and diet, and other attempts to lose weight.

If you know me, or see me regularly, you might have noticed I've recently (over the past 6ish months) lost a little weight (a little over 20 pounds). I did it with the help of my doctor under his monitoring.  (I'm not quite finished losing all the weight my doctor and I agreed I should lose, but I'm close.)  Because, I decided or came to understand with his advice and counsel, that, after all, weight is not an aesthetic thing. It is a physical condition of the body.... Too much of it is not a moral failing, but can do damage to other systems within the body.  And I want to avoid that damage, if I can, especially as I move ever closer to the big 5-0.

But this post is not about my weight loss or how you do it or the reasons one might or might not lose weight.  It's not even about how difficult it can be. It's about an epiphany I had when I was talking to my friend. 

We were discussing how we'd recently had the same change in attitude towards food:  nothing is off limits. If we want chocolate, or French fries, or wine, or bread, then we have it. It's about satiation without binges, we've concluded, and not restrictions.  (And though I have lost this weight, I know that I still have the capacity to binge.)

And I told her something:  I'd ordered fries for my son and me to share at dinner. He had a hot dog. I had a black bean veggie burger. We left maybe half the fries on the table when we left the restaurant and I told my friend that, before, before working with my doctor and having monthly discussions with him about food and attitudes toward food, I would have eaten the entire thing of fries, even though I was kind of full. I would have polished them off because I wouldn't have wanted to see them trashed. Then I would have been stuffed. Not satisfied, but stuffed.

Since last night, I've thought a lot about that admission about the fries. I really have never appreciated, until now, how difficult NOT cleaning my plate has been for me over the years. And so I'd eat and eat, even if I was full. Sometimes, I'd eat because it was expected of me.  "It's dinner time. I know you didn't get lunch until 3, but it's time to eat. So dig in."  Sometimes, I'd eat because I just couldn't see it go to waste (trite, but it's "there are starving kids in Ethiopia, so eat your dinner" kind of thinking).

Just understanding that I don't have to clean my plate anymore has been huge, and I didn't even realize it until I had that chat with my sweet friend last night.

Why am I sharing?  I guess, I'm writing this to say that we all have hang ups that trip us up and cause us to fail. And, many times, they are hidden even from our conscious selves. Sometimes it takes the help of a good professional (like my internist in this case) and a chat with a good friend to shine a light on them.