blogging, Crafting to lose weight, dealing with food cravings, emotional eating, Food Addiction, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, optifast, problem solving, setting goals, weight loss journal, Writing

I’ve got the Transition Blues!

Do you have a food monster in your brain?
Do you have a food monster in your brain?

You would think that I’d be thrilled to finally be eating, but I’m actually not finding it as exciting as I’d imagined.  Transition has brought back an old nemesis that I thought I’d left behind; HUNGER.I hadn’t actually felt hungry since my second week on Optifast.  Now, because my digestive system has been kicked back into action, I find myself watching the clock, waiting for my next shake, or my one meal of 4 oz. of protein and a cup of veggies.

My recent hunger  has conjured another familiar fear; food obsession.  Before my classes at the bariatric center and my time on Optifast, my waking hours were spent thinking about what I would be eating next. I’d mentally prepare meals before I ever set foot in the kitchen, and a trip to the grocery store was equivalent to a day in Disneyland. Being on Optifast briefly halted that.

Yesterday, as I drove home from the gym, I found myself mentally preparing and eating dinner.  Granted, I was mentally preparing an egg white omelet with spinach, red onion, green peppers and mushrooms–not a bad meal.  But, what frightened me was the way I was thinking about food. These were thoughts that went beyond the  normal, “Hey I’m gonna make an omelet for dinner.   It was sensory; I was seeing it, smelling it and tasting it with my massive imagination.

I turned on the radio and broke my gustatory reverie with thoughts of swimming, power walking, and recumbent elliptical conquering, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that over-imagining my dinner was a problem; a diet sin that was just as bad as sneaking a piece of chocolate cake.

I’ve made so much progress, and I haven’t physically cheated on my meal plan,ever, so why do I feel guilty for thinking about my next meal, beyond regular planning? Why is their so much confusion for me where food is concerned?  Why can’t I be passé about food like “normally weighted” people seem to be?  I’ve heard my size 8 friends casually say, “Oh, gosh, no wonder I’m hungry, I forgot to eat lunch.”  I don’t propose to skip a meal, because I know that’s not good, but how does one not care enough about food to forget to eat?

Perhaps I’m worrying too much about this.  I know the proper thing to do is to make a written plan for my meals one week in advance and to enjoy them as I mindfully eat.  I also know that I have other experiences that I can replace my food thoughts with.  I can mentally plan vacations or shopping trips,  revisit fun with a friend, think about my cats, my blog, or my latest needle-felting project.  I guess I’m just wondering when it gets easy, natural, and casual?  When will I make the transition from “OMG FOOD, NOM, NOM, NOM!!!!” to ” Hmm, I think I’ll make an omelet for dinner tonight” ?

I know I’m strong and I can work through these worries.  I’ve just been sailing through this whole thing so successfully, that the return of my old way of thinking has surprised me.  I know it will get easier and that I’ll find a balance. 🙂

Do you struggle with food obsession/shame or have you conquered it? Please share your secrets in the comments. 🙂

 

 

 

blogging, Friday Fixes, Self-Soothing, Uncategorized

Friday Fixes: Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Sight

PhotoFunia Cookies Writing Regular 2014-03-24 03 00 32

The pressure of work is making you batty.  Your kids have you climbing the walls.  You’re worried about your daughter’s new relationship and are even more stressed  about the fight you had with your partner last night.  You slip into the break room, or your kitchen at home and scan the vending machine, or peruse the pantry.  You may think that King-sized Snicker’s bar looks good, or that leftover lasagna from last night is calling your name.  You wolf down your food of choice even though, less than an hour ago, you just had a healthy lunch.   Suddenly, the good feeling you had while chewing has swallowed you up in feelings of guilt, shame, and failure.  Your work, your kids and your stressors are still with you, but so are those extra  300 calories that you just consumed.

addictionIt’s no surprise that food is often our go-to drug when stress, anxiety, or worry get the best of us.  Research has found that humans produce opioids, in response to digesting excess sugars and fats, that have the same chemical structures found in addictive narcotics, like heroin and morphine. Furthermore, brain imaging proves that when given food, the same  dopamine receptors light up in the brains of  obese people,  as they do in the brains of drug addicts when given their drug of choice.  Another study showed that the visual cue of simply seeing pictures of certain foods can evoke the same dopamine response in some food addicts (Werdell, 2009).

By understanding that our sense of sight is powerful enough to alter our brain chemistry, it makes sense to surround ourselves with images that can comfort us and combat our desire to overeat.  Creating a positively visually stimulating environment is very simple and inexpensive, and most of us already do it to some extent.  The key is to not only have visually pleasing things within your range of sight, but to also mindfully focus and give attention them when a stressful situation or a food craving hits.

Some suggestions for using visual cues for self-soothing would be to:

  • Identify, and surround yourself with colors that are relaxing to you
  • Place items that you enjoy, like a vacation souvenir, a religious symbol, or pieces of art, in your home or workplace
  • Hang up pictures of people, places and things that bring you joy
  • Frame inspirational quotes, poems, or religious verses and place them where you can easily see them for inspiration.
  • Walk outdoors and observe the beauty of nature
  • If it’s evening when a craving hits, look at the starry skyimage_8
  • Keep a photo album of loved ones close by
  • Light a candle and watch the flame
  • Get a manicure and look at your lovely nails
  • Read a favorite book or magazine (just not a cookbook or cooking magazine!)
  • Watch a funny movie or TV show
  • Set up a small aquarium or fish tank in your home or office (watching the aqua life is so relaxing)
  • Buy fresh flowers to put in your home or work space
  • Peruse the internet for clothing that you’ll soon fit into, if you continue on your weight loss path
  • Go to your mirror and put on makeup or fix your hair
  • Look up fantasy vacation spots or dream homes on the internet
  • Check on your pets (Your cat probably needs something!)
  • Look through the photos on your phone
  • Take a selfie and remember that you are your most important person!

 

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Looking at vacation pictures, or pictures of places you’d like to visit can get your mind off of your cravings.

 

What are some other ways that you could use your sense of sight to calm yourself in times of stress?

 

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.(2006). Weight Loss Tips.

Coping and Self-Soothing Techniques.Psyke.org

Mahoney, Elizabeth. Pleasurable Activities List. SouthTampaTherapy.com.

Werdell, P. (2009). Physical Craving and Food Addiction: A Scientific Review. Food Addiction Institute