Friday, September 10, 2010

Taking the emotion out of eating

What if someone came up and told you that you MUST have 6 hours of sleep each night?  Anything more than that was sheer excess. What if, from when you were a little kid, when you complained of being sleepy, your parents told you that it just meant you were lazy or not dedicated? What if when you got more than 6 hours of sleep, society told you that you were a failure?  What if there was this social stigma on the less sleep you got, the more successful you'd be; the happier you'd be; the better husband you'd catch; the better person you would be.

But what if 6 hours of sleep just isn't enough for your body?  What if, by trial and error, you found that you really needed 8 hours each night?  What if you felt shame about that? 

Wouldn't that be silly?

My relationship with sleep is a good one.  When I don't get enough, I know it.  I drag the next day.  I'm inattentive.  Because I feel so good, so ME when I get the amount of sleep I need, I make getting enough sleep a priority for me.  And if I don't sleep well one night, I think about WHY I didn't sleep well (too hot, too cold, too many loud noises, etc.) and then go about rectifying that so that I will sleep better the next night.

If I get too little sleep one night because I'm hanging out with friends, I know that I will pay for it the next day.  But I also know that sometimes it's worth it.  Sometimes what I'm doing INSTEAD of sleeping is worth the drain of energy.  But I know that I can't do that for many nights in a row.  My body feels miserable when I go without quality sleep for too long.

I really have no judgement about the amount of sleep my body needs.  I'm neutral to it - I just know I need it.

So what if I approached my relationship with food and how I eat with the same energy as my relationship with sleep?

What if, instead of shaming myself that I'm still hungry even though I know that I've had plenty, I just trust my body and eat a bit more?  This is similar to if I had already had 8 hours of sleep and still wanted to sleep a bit more because I was still tired.

What if, instead of eating when I'm no longer hungry, I trust my body's signals and stop?  Just like if I woke up at 6 AM on a weekend and realized I was no longer sleepy and decided to get up.

What if, instead of beating myself up for eating something that was not the healthiest choice, I just moved on - and "made up" for it by making healthier choices the next day?  It's just like getting low on sleep one night and then sleeping a bit more the next day.

What if, instead of looking at food as only a source of pleasure and a way to escape, I looked at food as a way to re-energize myself.  Sleeping and/or taking a nap is decadent, but it's mostly a way to re-energize myself.

What if I didn't judge myself for how much (or little) food I needed to feel satisfied? 

It seems SO simple when I look at it like this.  To me, it was profound, a huge light bulb moment, an AH-HA! moment.

I sleep when I'm tired.  I don't deprive myself of sleep or force myself to sleep to punish myself.  When I've had enough sleep, I simply get up and start my day.  I have a healthy relationship with sleep.

And someday these statements will be true in respect to food, too:
I eat when I'm hungry.  I don't overeat or starve myself to punish myself.  When I've had enough food to feel satisfied, I simply stop eating and continue with my life.  I have a healthy relationship with food.

Maybe you don't have a healthy relationship with sleep.  In that case, I encourage you to think about what you do in your life regularly to take care of yourself that ISN'T a compulsion.  Maybe it's that you brush your teeth, wash your face, shower, shave, or WHATEVER when you need to.  Think about how neutral you are to that activity - how it carries no shame and that you don't do them for emotional reasons.  

Attribute that same energy to your relationship with food and I hope you'll see the same light bulb I did.


Mandy said...

Great points! I have been naughty and must punish myself with a nap!

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

I like this line of thinking...makes sense to me!

We all have to sleep to survive and we all have to eat.

I know I'm in trouble when I'm trying to use food for something other than nourishment!

Moving Mertle said...

I love you analogy! I've heard people say food is an addiction like drinking which doesn't help because you can't jsut go cold turkey on the eating....mmmm cold turkey. Anyways I will try to think of it like sleeping, if I eat bad stuff or sleep on the floor I won't feel good. If some days I need a little less and some days more that's ok too! but I can't sleep all day or eat everything in site...because where would the LIFE in my life be?

Katy said...

Great idea! The innapropriate thought that comes to mind is "food coma" how to combine food WITH sleep, but that doesn't help anyone now does it? Seriously though, great stuff.

Karen said...

This is a great analogy! I am adding it to a list I have been keeping that I will soon post about so everyone can share in the wisdom.

Traci said...

Hey, I gave you a blog award over at my site.

Lesia said...

I could not lose weight that way cause I am never hungry. So my body would starve its self. But for the NORMAL person that does sound good. Only if you are in touch with the real you. Meaning the inner you and not the society you. smile

Tina said...

What a fabulous post! I'm doing a 30 Days of Self Love ( on my blog right now and it relates to a lot of the issues and pressures we put on ourselves that are unnecessary. I know relationships with food is a big one. I love how you compare it to sleep.

Jessica said...

i really really like this!

Epiphany said...

Wow what a brilliant idea. I never thought of it that way but it is soooooo true!

Lanie Painie said...

I feel really judged for the amount of sleep I need. Damn thyroid!

I'd say more, but i'm going back to bed.