Thursday, September 9, 2010

Want vs Need

When I think about the difference between want and need, usually thoughts of my mother come into play.  My mom grew up with parents who lived through the depression. My mom grew up in Detroit - when jobs were scarce.  So sometimes her dad had a job and sometimes he didn't.

She knows how to stretch a dollar.  So when I think about "want" and "need" I usually think about how she and her family had to do without the things they wanted and were lucky to get the stuff they need.

I also tend to think of spoiled kids.  They feel like they NEED a car when they're 16, when in reality, it's just a want.  They NEED a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, they NEED the new action figure and they certainly NEED that new video game.

You know what I don't think about when pondering the differences between want and need?  Me.

I've talked a lot about how I'm practicing mindful and intuitive eating. So to catch everyone up, the idea is that you ask yourself if you're hungry.  If you are, you ask yourself what you're hungry for.  Then you eat it.  You stop when you're satisfied.  Rinse and repeat for each meal or snack.

But often, what my body is hungry for is not what my mind wants. 

The thing is, sometimes I want something sweet.  While I know I could be decently satisfied with a piece of dark chocolate or some fruit, what I want is a blizzard, or a cookie, or a sundae, or...

I was thinking about this whole thought this morning.  The problem that I have is that I don't want to eat something different than what I want.  I WANT to indulge. 

And that's when it hit me - sometimes I act like a petulant child on the inside when I don't get what I want.

I'm embarrassed.  I was raised better than this.  I was raised to "suck it up" and eat what is there instead of what I wanted.  But somehow wires got crossed and I learned that it was bad to get what I wanted - that it somehow meant that I was selfish.  And somehow I thought that me getting what I wanted in life meant that I was being greedy. 

So on the outside, I conformed.  I ate what my mom told me to.  I deprived myself; I did the right things.  And I started binge eating in private.

I want to live an authentic life - not just with food, but with my friends, family, and my emotions.

I know that restriction makes me want to rebel.  I know that when I feel that I can't have something, I rebel and eat more of it than I should.  I know that I don't enjoy sneaking food in private...the shame isn't worth it.

So my struggle is how to deal with want versus need.  How do I listen and honor my body with what it needs while still loving the part of me that wants? 

This morning I'm hungry.  I want one of the Einstein Brothers bagel with whipped cream cheese that one of my co-workers brought in.  I want to not miss out on the fun and rush of people eating the food. I know when I eat the bagel that it tastes SOOO good. But I also know that I'm satisfied with the english muffin and peanut butter.  I know that if I don't have that bagel today, I won't miss it as the day goes on.  I know that if I really want one tomorrow I can get one before coming to work.  I know that seconds before I saw her walking in, I was excited about my breakfast choice.

Most importantly, I know that I want to get rid of this extra weight.  I know that my joints want me to make the better choice.  I know that I want to be thinner for my younger sister's wedding (where I will hopefully NOT look like an egg on fire) in April.  And I know that I want to have pride in the fact that I really am living a healthy lifestyle.

So, I'm going to go and fix myself the english muffin.  I'm going to try one of the new samples of nut butters that I purchased last night.  And I'm going to concentrate on all of the ways that *I* am choosing this choice.  I'm not being made to eat just what I need, but rather I'm getting to choose this delicious and decadent breakfast.

Any thoughts?  Am I missing something that could clarify this "want vs. need" thing?  How do you lovingly decide to choose between what you want and what you need?


Finding The Thin Within said...

How coincidental! I was just posting something similar at the same time as you! I had a battle last night where my mind "wanted" a cheeseburger that I knew was absolutely NOT a need. I ended up making the right choice, but sometimes it's really hard. What it boiled down to in the end was this: I want to lose weight. And I can't do that by eating cheeseburgers all the time. Congrats on the small victory!

<3 Katie

Lesia said...

I think of the wants vs need every time I eat. That's how I think. Is it really worth it or do I just WANT it? It makes it easy for me. Cause I really don't NEED it.

Karen said...

GREAT post! Really key - want vs. need. I wish I knew the answer. Reminds me of the song - "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need."

Lor said...

what gets me out of it is thinking about what that particular food is. generally it's something accessible to me ALL THE TIME. it's not someone's grandmother's special recipe for raspberry pie.. made with raspberries she grew in her garden -- it's a bagel. you could get it tomorrow, or the next day or the next day. that's how i try to see it.

also, i tell myself it will never taste good enough to make up for how bad i'll feel after i've ate it.

part of you might only want it because you "cannot have it," but don't look at it that way. it's not that you CAN'T have it, you're simply choosing not to. i know, i know, easier said than done, but snap out of it! you've got this! chin up!

Jams said...

I think it's completely important to start thinking about wants vs. needs when it comes to what we eat. That doesn't mean we'll never have what we want... it just means that we'll have to put thought into having it. And that's never a bad thing.

Give yourself what you need, all of the time... and what you want, some of the time! With that, you'll be set! :)

Katy said...

I just posted what I thought was a pretty insightful thought out comment and then Mother F'n "server error" pops up. GD Piece of SH**. Sorry, it's the turrets,

Word Verification: gonat

Mandy said...

Since I have been vigilantly vegan (say that three times fast!), I don't like as much sugar in my tea. I do not like the taste of things that are over sweet. I really think of how I will feel if I eat something that I am allergic to, or that my body refuses to digest. Most of the time, I just have to think of how it will feel, and my stomach churns a little, almost as if to say, "True Dat!" Then I go for the better choice, which is probably something vegetable based.

It sounds like your inner voice wants to be the winner here. Tell your inner voice that you will choose to splurge at the library or the bookstore, or the dollar store before you splurge on something high calorie again! Then tell that inner voice to call my inner voice and my inner voice will be your inner voice up!

Janell said...

Fantastic post and so timely. I'm eating right now!

Lily Fluffbottom said...

Its all about balance right? I think one of the major problems with bagels are how big they are! But what if you split it with a friend? Or just threw away half of it? Or sat really quietly and still, and ate each bite super slow with so much attention to detail that after four bites you were done because you recognized that was all you needed? Its not easy, but its possible!

Jessica said...

I can usually tell the difference between a want and a need - it is honoring my needs and questioning my wants that is the issue for me.

For example - tonight after dinner I was no longer hungry. I was satisfied. Then my husband toasted a Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Pop Tart and sat down to eat it. The smell was crazy all through the house, Pop Tarts were TOTALLY off limits for me for years. I really WANTED one. Did I need it? NOPE. Did I toast one up and eat it anyway? Sure did. But that was it, I ate it slowly and enjoyed every bite...sometimes you just need to do that : ) No guilt or apologies!

Marion said...

I try to make food decisions when I am in a good frame of mind so when I am sitting at the restaurant "wanting" a burger, fries and shake.....the decision was already made to have chicken sandwich and salad. I also try to think about what my body really does WANT....not my tastebuds. You are doing great! Love your blog! murn