Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Day 6 - Be your own guru

I decided to jump to this principle when I had a couple of good ideas in the shower.

I have been drinking quite a lot of Cava recently. When I applied Beyond Chocolate principles to my alcohol use, everything changed and I was comfortable with myself in that area for the first time in years. I don't create rules for myself any more, I just follow my instinct. This means that most days I have some wine of some kind, although I often don't and not because of any rules. So, I realised this morning that I am still feeling the slightly tight feeling in my head that I get when I am dehydrated. So I decided to do more of the things that hydrate my body and less of the things that dehydrate. That was it - no firm rules, no commitment or timescales. Just that decision without pressure.

My digestive system tends to be quite slow and without giving TMI, I need to keep it moving. Lately I haven't been eating as much veg as usual and it has had an effect. So, I decided to make smoothies in the mornings to get a couple of pieces of fruit into me before the day starts. For some reason, I just can't be bothered to eat fruit most of the time. Drinking it is a lot less effort!

So, two ideas under my belt I started my day. It did not go as I expected and I ended up spending the whole morning supporting friends and ex-clients with their problems. This was just where I want to be, and I was happy to do it. However, it left me with no time to do what I had intended, which is a source of stress for me. My first thought was to abandon my plans to go to knitting group this afternoon to do the things I hadn't done, but then I decided that I needed some time for me so I went. I regretted it on the way as I felt so tired driving and could have had a nap at home, but I did enjoy it and it was good to do something for myself.

The rest of the day went very pear-shaped and I ended up extremely stressed and unhappy. I decided to do the things I needed to do and leave as much as possible till tomorrow. I have just been up to my youngest who appears to have wet her bed quite deliberately, while sitting up. I ended up so angry with her that I have come down and cut myself off from the rest of humanity until I can be trusted to be nice.

There is so much going on for us at the moment and a big will we/won't we thing is hanging over us, making plans and expectations very fluid, which is not a comfortable place for me to be in. I can see what is happening and I am going to scale back everything I can. I will make sure I make time for me and what I want to do, and be good to myself. I ate tons earlier and it felt like a binge but I don't even feel too full now so I guess it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time.

So, what have I learned?

- that I have some great ideas and that framing them in BC speak, without pressure or judgement, makes them much easier to work with. (I haven't had any alcohol today and I know I won't, but not because I shouldn't)
- that I need to work out why I am getting so stressed and take appropriate action
- that I need to remember that just because I planned to do something, doesn't mean that it needs to be done today. When something happens to change my plans, I can reprioritise.

It's 'stop when you are satisfied' tomorrow. I am looking forward to that one as it's one of the hardest things for me.

Day 5 - Put it on a plate, sit down and focus

"When we make time to eat with enjoyment and focus, food becomes a delicious, nurturing experience. Why deprive ourselves of this pleasure?" Beyond Chocolate

This was a good day to look at this principle as I was teaching and I find it very hard to focus on my food when I am still working. Breakfast was rushed as usual and ended up as a sharon fruit eaten stood at the door waiting for the children to get their coats on. I ate again when the class was about to start and it was a cup cake, eaten stood up talking to clients. Not ideal, but probably unavoidable on teaching days. It seems to me that the main benefits of this principle are that I enjoy my food more and that I don't overeat. I can't really help the first one but if I make sure that what I eat in this unfocused way is very small amounts, I can at least mitigate that part of it.

When I got home I reheated the second half of the bacon and brie bagel from the previous day and ate that slowly and mindfully, sat at the dining room table. I made a point of putting the food down while eating, and focusing on each individual taste and texture. It was enjoyable and I didn't feel the need to eat anything else.

I ate with the girls at tea time and really enjoyed the pasta. So much so that I had a second helping. We were sat at the dining room table but I can't say I focused on the food as much as earlier. With the 3 girls there, all talking at once, competing for my attention, wanting help with things and stuff getting from the kitchen. We then made some cookies together and I enjoyed them so much I ate seconds again. Felt very full. But I think I did focus on eating it and loved every minute.

So what have I learned from today?

- Making time to sit when I am alone is very enjoyable.
- When I am not able to sit and focus, ensuring portions are small mitigates the issues.

That's about it really.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Day 4 - Eat whatver you want

"It is only when we legalise all foods and give ourselves the possibility to eat everything that we can make choices and have a truly healthy approach to weight loss" Beyond Chocolate

This was a principle that I 'got' fairly quickly when I first read BC despite 10 years of dieting and the attendant demonising of whole food types. I do struggle with being true to it, though, because I live in a village 20 minutes drive from the shops and if I find I want something that I don't have, I can't have it! So, I tend to choose from the available foods, and that is only one small step from choosing from the convenient and readily available foods, then to the foods that need eating up, and suddenly choice is gone. So I work hard on this one. One method I use it to imagine walking into a restaurant and sitting down. There is no menu to look at, and after a while a waiter comes over and asks what I would like to eat. I know that whatever I ask for, they will be able to cook for me. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't! So how did it go today?

I woke late and knitted for a while so when I finally came downstairs, it was late morning. I felt the first tickle of appetite around 10am and at 11.30am I was making our lunch. It was roast beef so it would be a while before it was ready so I knew I wanted to take the edge off my appetite to get me comfortably through to 1pm. I asked DD2 to hand me a banana but then I stopped and tuned in. I was in the restaurant and asking for.... .... not something sweet.... something savoury and quite bland. I opted for 1/4 of a tortilla. It was almost completely right - it was certainly the right amount and better than the banana would have been but it wasn't exactly right. More practice needed, I think.

At 1pm we had what I had been looking foward to since I bought it on Thursday: roast rib of beef, yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips, buttered boiled potatoes, cabbage and carrots, with Dave's awesome gravy and some hot horseradish sauce. I filled my tiny plate and did have a little more parsnip and another yorkshire. It was good! For pudding, I wanted a leftover mud cake with cream and ice cream. In the event, I had two and really enjoyed them.

Not long after lunch I left for an NCT reunion - a meet-up with 7 couples and their babies in a cafe/restaurant. I had a latte on arrival and some of them ordered cakes and puddings, but I wasn't at all interested. I was aware, however, that in my dieting days I would have been in a dilemma - I know I shouldn't have any cake, but I want some. But today I just knew that I didn't want any, so there was no issue of 'should' involved.

When I got home I was just starting to feel the first feelings of emptiness again and by 7.3pm I was ready to eat. But what? I looked in the fridge at the things that were immediately available and none of them were what I wanted to eat. I looked in the bread bin and saw (and smelled) bagels. That was the first thing of interest so I took one out. I looked for ham, but there was none in the fridge and I didn't want it enough to defrost any. I decided bacon was even better so got some out of the freezer and fried it. I put it into th bagel with some brie and sat down to eat it. I cut it in half and enjoyed every bite of the first half. I left the other half but instructed hubby not to touch it! I haven't been back for it, or eaten anything else tonight.

So, what have I learned today?

- I have come a long way with my eating habits
- Having food available but involving some effort (e.g. frozen) helps to focus my mind on whether I really want it
- Even if I can't put my finger on exactly what I want, I can get close by using the restaurant visualisation. To just find out if it's sweet or savoury, hot or cold helps with the level of satisfaction I get from eating the food.

I am delighted at how this 10-day focus is affecting me so far. I seem to be focusing better on all of the principles and finding I am back to my pre-Xmas state with intuitive eating. And I haven't felt like I am on a diet, either. It's not that I am doing this for 10 days then will go back to 'normal'. I am focusing again on what makes me feel good (emotionally and physically) and now that I am being more mindful, I will carry on this way. This blog has cured me of the effects of the winter depression I had this year. And it's only day 4. Imagine what I might achieve by day 10!

Tomorrow is "Put it on a plate, sit down and focus on it".

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Day 3 - Stop when you are satisfied

This was a tricky day because a lot of stuff was out of my control. I was on the road at 6am, arriving at a conference in Birmingham at 9am and getting home at 8.30pm. It is on these challenging days that it is easy to go with the flow, and I was determined to observe myself carefully despite being very nervous about presenting to 20 fellow teachers for the first time.

I wasn't hungry when I left home so took a stash of fruit and a flask of tea and left the house. When we arrived I was hungry so I had a banana. I later realised that there were croissants available but I didn't fancy them so that was fine. By the time we got to the coffee break at 11.30am I was pretty hungry. I found myself a pack of biscuits, which was what I fancied (and I had left the bag with my fruit in somewhere else) and had one of the two in the pack. That was enough to satisfy me and the other one is still lost in the bottom of my handbag!

At lunchtime, I'm not sure if I was hungry or not. It was the only meal I was going to get before 6pm so it was fairly academic. I saw the salad bar and there were prawns and I didn't even look at the hot food. I helped myself to prawns, smoked salmon and some salad. It was a bigger plate than I usually eat from and I had chosen 6 or so different things. I was reminded while eating of a lesson I learned fairly early on in my BC journey: I tend to eat the things on my plate that I like the least first, then work up to my favourite things. With this habit, it's no wonder I always finish my food because if I stop before it's all gone, I will be missing my favourite things. So, I spotted this and made sure I ate what I wanted to eat and when I had finished the salmon and prawns, I was satisfied. I left the rest.

But there was still room for pudding. There was a chocolate torte, a carrot cake and a very liquidy fruit salad. I fancied the chocolate, of course, but the slices were too big. I took half a slice and added cream. It was nice, but I didn't go back for the other half.

At the afternoon coffee break I scarcely had time to get myself a hot drink so food didn't figure so I clearly wasn't hungry. By the end of the conference, though, I was hungry. I ate a sharon fruit, a satsuma and a few grapes in the car and by the time we stopped at services for food, my stomach was not happy. Not sure why. I bought a prawn and chicken salad with noodles, but what really took my fancy was prawns on their own and smoked salmon on its own. This was what I had eaten at lunch and clearly I wanted more, but it was expensive so I opted for the salad. A mistake, as it turned out. The prawns in the salad were tasteless, as were the noodles. There was a lovely coconut sauce with it, but this only just made a bland dish bearable. I sat there eating it, realising that I was no longer hungry, and thinking "Am I going to eat all of this anyway?" Because I had paid for it, and the packaging meant that I couldn't take it home I was tempted, but in the end, I finished the prawns, for the texture only, and left about half of the salad and some of the chicken. Throwing it in the bin made me feel strong and powerful.

I finished the smoothie I had bought at the services after we left and that pushed my stomach too far. I felt too full for a lot of the way home. When I got home, I wasn't hungry at all but I had the chocolate egg I had bought at the services for pudding but not eaten. It made my teeth hurt but I still finished it.

So, what have I learned today?

- I tend to leave my favourite parts of the meal to the end, which makes it very difficult for me to stop when I am satisfied. When I eat the bits I want to eat, I am eating intuitively and making it possible for me to stop before the plate is clear.

- Even in difficult circumstances, I can eat intuitively. Choosing a banana over a croissant (albeit retrospectively) made me realise that I knew what I needed at that time.

- I can eat one of a two-pack of biscuits!

- I can throw away M&S food that I have paid over the odds for.

It was a very good day, in many ways. Tomorrow I think I will go back one of the principles I missed out: Eat whatever you want.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Day 2 - Eat when you are hungry

"Eating when you are hungry is the starting point for a healthy relationship with food..... but the reality is that we are so out of touch with our bodies that many of us no longer know how to read the cues."

It was interesting that this principle should fall on a Friday because I always have issues with Friday mornings. I am very rarely hungry in the morning before leaving for school. But on a Friday, I go to a dance class at 9.30am and I am usually hungry just in time for it to be too late to eat. Then I get unreasonably hungry by the end of the class. So, how did today go?

I didn't get hungry until 9am, as usual, so I chose to have the remainder of yesterday's banana to tide me over. By the end of the class, I wasn't really hungry so all was well. I went to a friend's house and we had lunch at midday. She loaded my plate as her daughter was asleep on my lap, and that hasn't happened for a while. When she put the plate down, I assumed that was for both of us to eat from, but it was just for me. In the event, I was hungry and I ate some garlic bread, lots of green salad and a slice or two of ham. I wanted to eat the last piece of garlic bread on my plate as I still felt a bit of hunger, but I knew there was cake for pudding so I left the bread. The cake was ace.

When we got home from school, I was hungry. My DD3 wanted to make mud cakes (batter-style cakes half-cooked so still raw in the middle) before we had tea and I concurred as I was hungry for them too. I had two with extra thick double cream and then when I made fish fingers for them later, I wasn't hungry. I crocheted through their teatime. In the end, I succumbed to a fish finger while wandering around the kitchen and then felt full. I don't like that feeling.

The girls had supper at 8pm and I wanted to eat. But, I wasn't hungry so I didn't. I was annoyed by not being hungry, though. Maybe if I hadn't had that fish finger....

By 9pm I was ready to eat, but was I hungry? I can't be sure but I had grown impatient. I had the leftover fish fingers cold with tartare sauce and some salad. Then another mud cake with cream. Delicious. In bed now at 10pm and feeling pleasantly settled but not full.

So, what have I found out?

- having half a banana within 30 minutes of my dance class causes no problems and helps me to get through the class without being too hungry.

- I get frustrated when I want to eat but have no hunger. Habit and social tradition tells me to eat, but my body says not to. Crochet and knitting helps - I couldn't just sit at the table and watch them eat. At least this way I am productive during the mealtime.

- If I eat when I am not hungry, it will be longer until I am hungry again and I won't have enjoyed the food as much as if I had waited.

It's been a good day, as I've found a way around the dance class issue and cemented my habit of not eating at the kids' tea time if I am not hungry.

Tomorrow is going to be a challenge: I am leaving home at 6am to travel to a forum in Birmingham, and returning around 9pm. Everything I eat between those times will be decided by what the organisers provide and what I can take in my handbag. Hence, working on "Eat whatever you want" is probably not a good idea. The following principle is "Put it on a plate, sit down and focus on it". As I will be networking throughout my lunch, I think there is little to be gained from this either. So, I will jump two and think about "Stop when you are satisfied". With free hotel food, this could be quite tricky and good to notice where I do well and where I don't.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Day 1 - Tune In

"Tuning in is the golden thread that ties all the Beyond Chocolate principles together.... It is about turning to youself for the answers, listening to your body rather than looking to the 'experts'." Beyond Chocolate

As usual, when I woke up I wasn't hungry. I tuned in and found that my stomach was saying nothing to me, but my head had a slight tightness. I thought this was due to not drinking enough fluids yesterday. I had a cup of tea (which means 0.4 litres of rooibos or green or camomile tea) and then set off on the school / nursery run. When I got home I knew I wanted to eat something but my head still felt tight and all I wanted to eat was vegetables. I cooked some courgette in olive oil but found that the sight of the oil, which is usually appealing, put me off so I drained it off. So I had tea and then my courgette. I ate it slowly and halfway through had a realisation: if I had been eating something that wasn't as 'good' as courgette, I would have stopped by now, but because it was a vegetable, it was OK to eat more than I needed. Diet mentality surfacing for a moment.

Fate intervened and I was disturbed by a visitor before I finished my one courgette. I left what was left for a while and finished it later when I felt slightly hungry again. Later I reheated a small bowl of a vegetable and chorizo creation my husband knocked up a couple of days ago. Very satisfying and ate the small amount without much pause.

Around lunchtime I found myself with a sharon fruit in my hand. I paused and tuned in. My stomach felt fine but I had a savoury flavour in my mouth that I wanted to get rid of. I had the fruit. Would I have done the same if my choice had been a cake? Don't know...

Straight after I had the sharon fruit I had a sweet taste in my mouth and wanted more. Starting to see how one thing leads to another. Decided to pause and reconsider in 10 minutes. Kept pausing and tuning in and only noticed slight tension in head still. Had tea when I tuned in to ease headache.

Had 1/2 a banana shortly after 2pm after tuning in and finding that vague hunger was building. Never saw the point of eating half a banana before but that was all it took today.

After the school pick-up the girls had a snack and I was hungry. Suddenly realised that I was thinking diet again and trying to deprive myself. Decided to have half a bagel with salted butter. When sat down, decided to eat half of it and then reconsider. The birds ate the second half in the end.

We went out at 5pm and food was provided. Ate less than instinctively but small amounts and amazed at how much people around me were eating. Pudding was ice cream with sprinkles and all the trimmings. Decided I had better ice cream at home and declined. Never had ice cream at home.

Evening changed it all - I had Cava. A whole bottle. This isn't unusual for me, but it certainly changed things. A friend had brought chocolate digestives and I had one, mostly out of politenesss, but eating it and tuning in, I realised that I wanted savoury food. Had some, and more than I needed, but less than I could have had. And so ends the day.

So, what have I noticed?

- It was useful to split what I had taken to eat into two and then eat the first half. One time I came back and ate the rest, another I didn't. Could this be the next step in the 'Stop when you are satisfied' principle?

- I tuned into other body sensations much more than usual. I noticed that I had the tension headache of dehydration for a lot of the day. This prompted me to drink tea when I could have reached for food.

- I still have a background view of it being OK to overeat 'good' foods like fruit and veg

- I really enjoyed focusing on my thought processes and behaviours. I didn't feel the need to binge before the process, although I did treat it as a bit of a diet at one stage.

- I have built on what I found out yesterday when I paused after eating my main course and found that I didn't actually want a pudding. Today I found that once I am engaged in something else, if I am no longer hungry, I don't need to come back and finish the food. But if I am still hungry I will come back and eat more.

So tomorrow it is "Eat when you are hungry". I am looking forward to it.

10-Day Beyond Chocolate Focus

I have been inspired by a lovely lady on the Beyond Chocolate forum to start a 10-day blog. I am going to take one Beyond Chocolate principle each day and blog on what I notice about it, where I am doing well with it, where I am not, that kind of thing. I am starting today.

An interesting thing happened when I made this decision yesterday. When I have decided in the past to start a diet tomorrow, I have spent the rest of the day bingeing on the foods I won't be able to have once I start my diet. So once I decided to focus on the 10 principles, what do you suppose I did? I started focusing on them straight away and eating more mindfully. BEYOND CHOCOLATE IS NOT A DIET. Sorry to shout, but it was just so clear to me for a moment.

So I am starting with the first principle, which is a tricky one because it underpins everything else - Tune In. I will be making an effort to tune in all day and will make notes on my progress and areas of interest (hopefully) at the end of the day. I will endeavour to update my blog every evening with the details. I hope you find it as interesting and useful as I will!