Friday, 12 December 2014

My three new rules of eating: An antidote to Busy Mum Eating Syndrome

Last week I had something of a lightbulb moment when it comes to food and eating.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to lose half a stone. The most obvious barrier has always been a strong fondness for biscuits, cake, chocolate and general treats.

The quantity of treats and biscuits I consume directly relates to how busy, stressed, tired, resentful, frustrated and put-upon I'm feeling. When I'm feeling happy I can easily avoid them for days, even weeks, on end. If I'm down in the dumps it's a different story.

But a while ago I noticed no matter how many biscuits, cakes and treats I ate, I wasn't satisfied.

I was often over-full, bloated and even slightly nauseous, but I didn't feel content.

In truth, I barely tasted them.

And then I thought about it and realised actually I barely tasted much of what I was eating.

I've fallen victim to Busy Mum Eating Syndrome.

The meals I sat down to eat with the children were the only meals I ate that I actually noticed.

I was polishing off leftovers clearing the table without thinking. Picking at bits of their dinners without noticing. Snatching snacks on the go, wolfing down entire bars in two or three bites as I herded both girls out of the house and off on an adventure.

In the evenings Noel and I largely ate in front of the TV, at weekends I ate while browsing on my phone. Snacks and treats were consumed in front of the laptop in between updating Twitter and reading blogs.

The volume of food passing my lips that I barely even noticed was quite astonishing.

It's all entirely understandable. I'm a full-time mother of two children under three with a freelance career on the side, a family home to run and friends and family near and far.

What I eat and how I eat it isn't exactly important, is it? As long as I keep it as healthy as I can, can't it just slot in around other things?

Only we all need to eat, to live. And by treating eating as unimportant, something to just shove into my hectic schedule or revolve around the children's, aren't I kind of treating myself like I'm not important either?

In fact aren't I completely and utterly treating myself like I'm not important and that my fundamental human need to eat is nothing more than an irritating inconvenience?
 Pre-children. I still wanted to lose half a stone. SRSLY. 

So this week I decided to try something new and apply the following three rules to everything I eat.

1. Eat when I'm hungry.
Not because it's an allotted mealtime. Not because I might get hungry later but I won't have time so I'd better have a snack now. Not because I feel a bit restless, not because I always eat at this time, not because everybody else is eating and it'd be rude not to. If I'm not hungry, I'm not eating. And if I am, I'm going to eat whatever it is I want - yes, including biscuits - and give myself full permission.

2. Sit down to eat it.
Whatever it is, whatever I'm doing, wherever I am. If I'm going to eat, I want to notice and enjoy it, and standing up to eat is not conducive to enjoyment. The simple act of sitting down signifies permission to stop whatever I'm doing, take time out of my and everybody else's super-busy day, and nourish myself.

3. Do nothing else while I eat it.
No eating in front of the TV, reading while I eat, flicking through my phone, answering emails, having a chat on the phone, checking Twitter, writing a to-do list. NOTHING. Whatever else I want to do can WAIT. And if it can't wait, I can't be that hungry or want what I'm eating that much.

If you're hoping to read that I've lost that half a stone, I'm sorry to disappoint. I don't actually know how much I weigh and I've only been doing this for a matter of days.

But the difference is phenomenal.

If nothing else I have realised just how much I was eating - of all kinds of foods, not just treats and snacks - without registering what I was doing. How much I was mindlessly picking or shovelling my way through while my attention was a million miles away.

How much I was eating, full stop. I was clearing my plate in record time regardless of quantity, not eating what I actually wanted. Just piling through whatever I'd decided we would eat that day, based upon many arbitrary criteria but never 'am I hungry and do I want this?!' as quickly as possible so as to get on with the important business of everyday life.

But possibly the most curious discovery of all is that I often have no idea what I want to eat. I've so lost touch with my body, become so disconnected from my wants and needs, that if I begin by asking myself 'what do I want?' I draw a complete blank. I have to think of a few things and wait for something to pop out at me.

If you asked me, I honestly couldn't tell you what my favourite meal is.

I could tell you Noel's, Cherry's and even Violet's. But not mine.

It's been a bit of a wakeup call that I need to take the time to get to know myself a lot better.

No comments:

Post a Comment