Friday, February 29, 2008

Sensory Eating

This last week I had the distinct privledge of joining quite a few of my fellow low-carber's (many of which are former Kimkins members) on an incredible cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. We had an incredible time, and on Sunday morning got together for a short encouragement meeting. During this time together, I was asked to say a word. I feel like this speech is relevent for all those who are learning to eat and develop a "normal" lifestyle no matter what diet program you are utilizing.

When I began my journey I thought that my goal was to get thin and be “normal.” Kate Harding in The Shapely Prose said:

“… the Fantasy of Being Thin is not just about becoming small enough to be perceived as more acceptable. It is about becoming an entirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has. It’s not just, “When I’m thin, I’ll look good in a bathing suit”; it’s “When I’m thin, I will be the kind of person who struts down the beach in a bikini, making men weep.” See also:
• When I’m thin, I’ll have no trouble finding a partner/reinvigorating my marriage.
• When I’m thin, I’ll have the job I’ve always wanted.
• When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed anymore.
• When I’m thin, I’ll be an adventurous world traveler instead of being freaked out by any country where I don’t speak the language and/or the plumbing is questionable.
• When I’m thin, I’ll become really outdoorsy.
• When I’m thin, I’ll be more extroverted and charismatic, and thus have more friends than I know what to do with. "

These were my perceptions. I did not realize at the beginning of my journey the transformation that would also need to change in my heart and head in order to begin a completely new relationship with food.

We has humans are created to experience life through our senses. We are find peace, tranquility, and comfort; as well as pain, sadness and chaos through the same input preceptors.

• Sight – We feel elation at the sight of a beautiful sunset. We are at peace when watching the ocean or a mountain vista. We also feel sadness and grief when we see turmoil and hardship. Our hearts ache for those we see wounded in a terrorist attack or struck by natural tragedy.
• Sound – We are inspired by a triumphant symphony and soothed by the sound of a peaceful brook or gentle waves breaking. By the same token, we feel the harshness of a jackhammer or screeching of grating metal.
• Smell – We place scented oils in our homes to create a tranquil atmosphere; roses, violet, vanilla, cinnamon and other soothing smells help to calm us and give us pleasant sensations. Who among us hasn’t turned their nose up, however, when passing a dead skunk or smelling burning rubber?
• Touch – A massage or soft sheets give us comfort. We go home at the end of a hard day and “get comfortable” by changing into looser less binding clothes. However, if there is a burr in those sheets, or your messus is untrained it can immediately turn those pleasurable incidents into harsh and painful experiences.

These above senses can either be used or abused respectively, however, in typical acceptable society for the most part; we utilize them for the appropriate uses that we were created to. The sense of TASTE is one in which I feel we, as an obese culture, have lost perspective on in recognizing the difference between savoring the pleasure of a decadent food, and over-indulging for the self-gratifying purpose of just experiencing “more.” Our civilization has become one of self-pleasure and self-service.

CS Lewis in his novel “Perelandra” wrote about a man who traveled to a distant planet and partook in consumption of a fruit that grew on a tree native to that planet. “It was like the discovery of a new genus of pleasures, something unheard of among men, out of all reckoning, beyond covenant. For one draught of this on earth wars would be fought and nations betrayed.” In experiencing this new pleasure this fruit bore him, the subject was almost overcome with the human urge to repeat the act immediately to experience the sensation again. He was then presented with a conflict and revelation; “Perhaps the experience had been so complete, that repetition would be a vulgarity…. This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even made to work backwards…”

Life cannot work backwards. We have forgotten the joy of appreciating the flavors that we are given in foods in hasty self-serving gluttony of wanting to experience the sensation again too quickly.

In this clip, Remy realizes that there is more to eating than just “horking” down his food. He discovers the unique flavors and learns a whole new appreciation for the culinary arts. A wine connoisseur does not gulp down his glass. He will take a little, and then anticipate and enjoy the other senses that accompany the taste. He smells it, swirls it in his glass, holds it in his mouth to experience all the flavors, and then moves on.

What would our lives be like if we captured each moment as an opportunity to make the absolute best of each situation? What would it do to our “dieting” experience if we transformed our thinking from I can’t have this or that… to I can have this? Then completely focus on the enjoyment of the food that you have selected.

The second part of this harmony is combining this new found excitement and enjoyment of food with anticipation and knowledge of what your body needs. Make peace with food. We need it to survive and have been given an incredible gift to enjoy our sustenance. We could have been created like other animals without taste buds and only the instinct to eat to survive. While that is still the primary purpose of eating, we are set apart from other animals with this ability.

Depravation is distinctly different than anticipation. What you keep in your house for daily consumption may be very different than what you have “boxed in” for others. One of my favorite desserts is carrot cake. My grocery store actually sells “individual” slices of cake that prior to losing my weight I was fond of purchasing. I no longer keep carrot cake around my home or chose to by those individual slices because I am aware of my own inability to maintain control when it is readily available. However, I have completely enjoyed the change of mentality when I allowed carrot cake to be one of my “special occasion” pleasures.

Several months ago, my husband and I attended a wedding rehearsal at which this particular cake was served as the dessert. I had a few bites of the cake and instead of “inhaling” the whole thing, I chose to chew very slowly and actually enjoy the flavor that it provided. I did not finish the entire piece because I did not need all of it to complete my enjoyment, however, I do look back with great pleasure at that incident, and I look forward with joy and anticipation to the next time.

Instead of saying that I CAN’T have a certain food, I say that I choose not to have it at this time, and find an alternative. I know what that carrot cake tastes like. The flavor will not change. It will still be carrot cake a week, 3 months, or a year from now. I can avoid the guilt of indulging in it regularly and instead turn that guilt into satisfaction and joy in knowing that I have anticipated and allowed myself the pleasure in due time.

Being fit is a journey with ups and downs, mountains and valleys. I have found that the journey is made much more enjoyable by learning to focus on the experience rather than attempting to “take it all in.” I learned that that “fantasy” of being thin was nothing more than an illusion that quickly dissipated and could have been very discouraging had my mindset towards wellness not shifted. We can be happy in our pursuit to a healthy weight by accepting the way we were made, and learning to distinguish between satisfaction and over-indulgence.

This has been a long year with more roller coasters and twists and turns then I could have ever anticipated. But, we are here. We are on the road to a better us. And, we have each-other to support, encourage, and push along the road. Thank you for sharing in my journey with me.


BamaGal said...

Christin, you just made a huge step on the road to recovery from ED.

Awesome post!!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Deni said...

Great post Christin... I want to change the "quote" you included from the shapely prose to what I'm thinking instead:

Here's my version:

"Today, I'll reinvigorate my marriage.
Today, I'll get the job I always wanted.
Today, I won't be depressed anymore.
Today, I'll be an adventurous travelor.
Today, I'll become outdoorsy.
Today, I'll be more extroverted, and charismatic and make more friends.
REGARDLESS of what my weight or my clothing size is!!!!!!!!!!

Christin said...

Excellent application and rendition Deni!!! Absolutely it's about experiencing these things now. Regardless of what our size is!

Jimmy Moore said...

Hearing the passion in your voice as you talked about what you wrote in this post on the cruise ship, I know you believe from whence you speak Christin! I'm so glad to know you and to appreciate you even more now that I've heard directly from your heart. Keep up the great work my friend! :D

Jazzy said...

I really liked what you had to write in this blog! Keep it up!

Hey... where is that Remy clip from?

Becky said...

Great post, Christin! This is so insightful, and shows you have reached maintenance in your mind and heart and life, not just on the scale.

I loved the reference to C.S. Lewis' Perelandra. That passage resonated with me the same way when I first read it.

When 'grace' isn't some sort of rote prayer we mumble over our meals, but rather a way we receive food with awareness, enjoyment and thankfulness, as one of life's many gifts, we can savor it and put it to good 'use' without 'abuse'.

Here's to life without 'horking'!