BDS: Day 16---Preventing Unplanned Eating
Friday, March 16, 2018
I have been doing this for a couple of years now and how I answered or responded to this day's 'skillset' is different today than it was when I went through this book a few years ago. In a way, I/we shouldn't be surprised because as we practice these tools we will become more adept at them and even tweak them to suit the occasion and how we have grown away from our former eating habits.
First of all, I trust myself with exposure to food much more than I used to. There was a time when I would cancel social invitations if there was food around. If I did accept the invitation I either underrate and then overate when I got home or I declined the social invitation. That was my 'standard practice' for a very long time. As I worked through my issues with food I knew that I needed to practice what is used when trying overcome your phobias or fear: limited exposure with the thing you are fearful of until you can feel a relative level of comfort around that same 'thing'. Once I developed a relative comfort level with exposure to food outside of my planned meals I relaxed more and was able to be more in control of the food situation.
However, there are still a few other behaviors related to unplanned eating (or even what I would say 'giving myself permission' eating even if not planned) that I still need to work on. A lot of has had to do with 'treats' and/or 'rewards'. I would do either and justify it based on I 'deserved' the extra or unplanned food. I still have remnants of this behavior and so I continue to work on it. The list is short but a couple of examples are when I haven't had a favorite food so I 'indulge' if the opportunity 'suddenly' arises (or I just act on my own impulses) or if I want comfort myself when I am going through a particularly difficult time and this is the easiest and most accessible way to sooth myself.
I have been working on both of these scenarios in recent months. My best attempt thus far with favorite foods is try to limit myself to one portion or serving of my favorite food. One way to do this is buy or order smaller packages of that food. It is a built-in limitation. A single serving of potato chips packaged that way will mean you may indulge in a favorite food but you won't find yourself with your hand at the bottom of a big bag and wonder how you managed to eat 8-10 servings. It is 'no real wonder' at all! You ate that big bag one chip at a time or even sometimes a handful at a time. You also probably figured that if you ate it alone or quickly the calories wouldn't count. In a dream world maybe but not in reality. Every calorie counts and one way that we continually sabotage our best efforts at weight loss is pretending they don't.
Another way that many people probably haven't thought of but one that I have been experimenting with in the past year is plan an 'unplanned eating episode'. Pencil it on your calendar when and how much and since you are tracking or monitoring what you eat work it in your food plan for that day. This would fall under the category also of 'special events'. Weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, etc. However, this could be a 'problem' if you have a very active social life. I do not compared to others but, let's say, you have a standing date with your co-workers every Friday night (I had this years ago when I was working) that you get together for Happy Hour for drinks and appetizers you might have to set some boundaries in either what you will have or how often you will agree to join your co-workers. I chose the later. If it was someone's birthday then I would say Yes but if it was 'just another' Friday night then I would limit myself to how frequent I attended.
If I have learned anything about being successful in just about any endeavor in my life including losing weight is that at some point you are going to realize that you make a decision(s) based on what is in your best interest. Also, as we age some of these 'what's best for me' decisions seem to happens even without your 'said permission' on what was once something that you could indulge in and suffer little or no consequences. Now, you find yourself needing those 8 hours of sleep, less fatty and greasy foods and even handling life's stressors differently than before.
One of my favorite responses to how an Overeaters Anonymous woman in my weekly Saturday morning meeting successfully managed her emotional overeating when asked, " I grew up." That was 23 years ago and when I started to 'grow up' I saw the wisdom in doing just that. One day you realize that there are many pleasurable things in life to indulge in but at some point you ask yourself, "Is this worth it?"
Once you know the answer to that question then the answers fall into place with relative ease. You will also know and understand the 'how and why' you can and probably will prevent most of your unplanned eating, drinking and anything else that needs some self-management. And, I suspect by that time you will also realize, "It is time to grow up" and cease doing any activity that ultimately causes you harm. At that point you will know you don't need to eat, drink or whatever to make yourself 'happy'; you will just find better ways of doing it and with less costly consequences to boot.