Learning to feel full: Can I fix my broken fuel gauge?

It kind of amazes me now that I got through My Perfect Season of Weight Loss with only amateur-level eating skills.

I could stop on a dime sometimes, but only if I was really dialed in, and only if I had a Weight Watchers weigh-in coming at the end of the week.

fuelgaugeBut I could not, during that incredible streak back in 2010 when I lost weight every single week for nine straight months, stop eating just because something didn’t taste very good.

I couldn’t stop eating something that triggered my “finish it off” tendencies, which is why I wound up consuming so many boxes of Fiber One bars, back when each bar was counted as just one Weight Watchers point.

Most of all I could not stop eating just because I was full. My interior fuel gauge got busted very early in childhood. (I have some theories on that now, as I watch my youngest niece and nephew, ages 2 and 1, developing a much more natural, sane approach to eating, but I’ll broach that topic another time.)

The question is, can I fix my busted fuel gauge now that it’s been messing me up for half a century? Can I learn to avoid eating until I become uncomfortably full?

police-stateWhen I think of getting there in a conventional way, employing the willpower I see in my dad or my sister or some friends, I cringe at what feels like an uncomfortable, unpleasant, police state process.

But here are two things I can do:

First, I can work on building another winning streak – in this case, starting my fifth straight day of not allowing myself to get uncomfortably full. That may not sound like much, but considering that it includes a weekend in which we hosted a big family birthday party as well as a birthday dinner a couple of days later, that’s really quite an accomplishment, at least for me. Having this goal in mind, building something positive rather than just trying to avoid a negative, seems to be making a huge difference.

reststopSecond, I can work to identify “rest stops” during the eating process to give me time to assess whether or not I really want to keep going.

With pizza, for instance, for years I was consumed by my Inner Child’s urge to run off with the pizza and have it all to myself, so I could eat as much as I wanted without having to share. Once I actually allowed myself to indulge in that fantasy (not dragging off my family’s dinner but buying myself a Little Ceasar’s pepperoni pizza for “lunch” one day), I came away feeling so miserable that I no longer visualize wanting a whole pie, no matter how good it looks and tastes.

With pizza, two slices seems like a pretty good place to set up a rest stop. One serving of whatever we’re having for dinner. One handful of nuts. One donut. And so on.

Establishing the location of these rest stops is hardly rocket science. The difference is, perceiving them in my mind not as border crossings guarded by punishment-oriented, head-cracking security guards but as … well, rest stops. A place to stop and catch my breath. To recover from the eating process, to appreciate this act that apparently means so much to me.

It’s my choice if I want to continue on to the next rest stop.  Nobody’s going to yell at me if I have another slice of pizza or a second serving of lasagna. But if I do go there, I want the journey to be a pleasant one, not the furtive frantic dash of a food fugitive.

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7 Responses to Learning to feel full: Can I fix my broken fuel gauge?

  1. I believe you can fix it, and I believe it’s all mental. I’m working on this myself!

  2. bgddyjim says:

    Ah, the police state… You know, this is a very good way to describe how I am with eating sometimes. Hey, whatever works. Now if we have to start looking at food like the Communist Bloc, well then I could see your point. Daddy don’t like Commies! Good luck, Tisch, and don’t like Commies too! They’re bad, and limit your bread. And blue jeans.

    • tischcaylor says:

      The head-cracking “police state” concept of willpower works for some people, but not for me. I grew up in a family that had a major eat to live/live to eat philosophical split, with a constant stream of bickering on the subject (though no one used that terminology) , and I came away feeling like my eating was constantly under surveillance. (BTW I’m not blaming my parents; I can see now that I was an overly sensitive kid and took things WAY too personally. I was raised in a very loving, supportive family – except when it came to food.)

      • bgddyjim says:

        I picked up what you were layin’ down. My comment was mostly an attempt at off-colored humor. Food can be a very touchy subject and I certainly didn’t mean to make light of your post. 😉

      • tischcaylor says:

        Oh, no offense taken. And I did see the humor, I was just being too self-absorbed to acknowledge it…. sorry about that!

      • bgddyjim says:

        No worries, I do the same thing, quite often… Funny how that works, eh?

        In any event, I do enjoy reading about what you’re going through and how you’re trying to organize everything to make it work. Just know that I can relate.

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