No, the title isn’t a mistake. It’s an IT Crowd reference, and if you don’t get it, well… I’m not sure if we can be friends any more but if you watch this maybe I’ll reconsider. Anyway… to the point of my post.
My wife has a commitment on Monday nights which means she gets home and has a late dinner on her own. She walked in last night, said ‘I’m hungry’, looked in the freezer, pulled out a tub of leftovers and immediately said ‘that’ll do’, before proceeding to microwave it and eat. My reaction, internally, was to realise how very far away I still am from being recovered because I still can’t imagine myself doing that.
When I need to decide what to eat, my brain is just a maelstrom of thoughts and feelings.
- How hungry am I right now – do I need something with volume to feel satisfied?
- How much protein have I eaten today?
- How much fat have I eaten today?
- How many carbs have I eaten today?
- How much ‘junk’ have I eaten today?
- How much fruit have I eaten today?
- What have my activity levels been like, and what will they be after this meal – how many carbs should I have?
- How much of x is left, and when will we be buying more?
- How much x have I already eaten today? (I try not to eat the same carb source more than once a day, or the same type of meat at lunch and dinner, etc etc)
- What needs to be used? What is the use by date of x?
- What do I feel like? What have I been craving?
I can easily stand in front of the pantry/fridge for some minutes if I let myself. And heck, sometimes I can make a decision and then rethink it again too. I am getting better at blocking out a lot of the unnecessary ones from the list above and trying to let the last one be the overriding factor, but it’s honestly sometimes hard to know what I ‘feel’ like.
Why is this so, and how do I get better at this?
One reason I think it’s so is because back when I was at my sickest, life was so utterly devoid of any meaning or happiness that meal times were the highlight of my day – the thought of food became so all consuming that it felt like almost my only source of pleasure – hence the title. And honestly – although I’m bigger, stronger, and far less hung up on eating perfectly and being slim these days, I still really struggle to have fun with anything except lifting weights and preparing/eating food. Spontaneous laughter just doesn’t happen all that often, work is pretty unfulfilling, and I don’t have a lot of other hobbies (although I am working on it), so yeah… life still often feels like a bit of a slog, and meals do still have a bit of a special place in my mind. When I’m on my own I enjoy shutting out the world and watching videos while eating, and with breakfast and dinner at home I really like the chance to sit and converse with the family because we just don’t get enough opportunities to do that especially during the week – between work and school and extra curricular activities, we really don’t get to spend as much quality time together as I’d like.
The other issue is practice. I pack my lunches for work in advance, and most of our evening meals are decided in advance too. Breakfast is a dilemma pretty regularly, but it’s not the worst because I really only have 3-4 options I regularly eat so I’m not spoiled for choice; also I typically walk the dog before breakfast so that gives me a long time to think about it! Dinner times are where it’s most difficult – I typically have 1 or 2 nights a week where it’s entirely up to me, and now that I let myself eat most things, I feel overwhelmed by choice. A lot of the time that means I end up going back to ‘safe’ options.
Writing this is really just a reminder to myself that it’s something I need to keep working on. Next week we are heading interstate for a few days – we’re staying in a self contained apartment, so we can buy normal groceries, but no doubt we’ll also eat out a lot. This should be a really good opportunity to broaden my horizons a little bit and get less neurotic. Food doesn’t have to be perfect.
As a footnote – our six year old is a really fussy eater. The other day after a particularly difficult dinner trying to get her to at least taste some pumpkin from her plate, I tried to explain to her that not every meal is going to be something she loves – and sometimes you just have to eat what’s put in front of you even if you don’t particularly like it, because you are hungry and need food or because it’d be rude to refuse a meal someone has prepared, etc etc. And as I was saying it, I was thinking how gosh darn hypocritical I felt. I still try to make every meal something that I’ll really enjoy, because even now I still regularly feel like I need to restrain myself from eating everything I want to eat, otherwise I’ll blow up like a balloon. It’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be, but I am so desperately tired of that nagging feeling in the back of my mind.
Hope this helps someone.