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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Theory # 2: Dieting

Yep, there are a zillion diet books out there, each one promising to make you thin by next week, or at least by next month, and more to the point, promising that it'll be painless and easy if you just follow their rules. Problem is, I do not do well with rules. Makes you wonder how I survived in the Army, doesn't it? Put me on a diet, and even if I have plenty to eat, I'm going to become a bitch.

So I came up with my own theory of dieting. You'll never see it in a book, because there's just not enough to it to fill up a book, and there's nothing earth-shatteringly exciting about it. But it is easy, and it's worked for me. No rude comments about why, if it works so great, I weigh more than I ought to, okay?
  • Eat when you're hungry.
  • Eat only when you're hungry.
  • Stop eating as soon as you don't feel hungry anymore.
  • Eat what you're hungry for.
  • Savor your food.
That's it. It requires paying close attention to your body, which takes some practice. A lot of times, you'll think you're hungry when you're actually just thirsty or want a particular flavor in your mouth. Focus on how your stomach feels. Is there a hollow feeling? No? Then don't eat. Get a drink instead.

Notice I said stop eating as soon as you don't feel hungry anymore, not when you feel full. It takes your body a while to realize it's full. I've read that it can take 20 minutes or more. That's a lot of eating. If you're not sure if you're still hungry, stop eating for 10 minutes, then reassess.

If you're craving chocolate, or chips, carrot sticks are not going to do the trick. Some people might be able to summon the willpower to make the substitution, but I'm not one of them. If I'm craving chocolate, I'll eat one small piece of the most chocolatey chocolate I can find, let it melt in my mouth, and really savor the flavor. That's infinitely more satisfying for my chocolate craving than scarfing down a whole giant Snickers bar. For the salty craving, I take a small handful--2 or 3 chips--and nibble, enjoying every bitty bite. I get a lot more enjoyment out of that than my husband does stuffing 3 chips at a time into his mouth. You can't even hardly taste them.

As for meals, no matter what you're eating, take the time and deliberately enjoy it. Savor the various flavors and textures, really experience them, even if it's not your favorite. I used to loathe bananas until I started doing this. The more you engage your senses, the more satisfied your mind will feel.

Interestingly, once you've been doing this for a week or two, you'll begin really hating the feeling of being over-full--not because of self-loathing, but because it just feels uncomfortable. And that's the point when the pounds start to disappear, when there's no longer any compulsion to clean your plate, because it's just not worth feeling bloated afterwards.

Okay, I'm serious about it now. I just left about 1/4 of my plate of rather yummy tortellini because I wasn't hungry anymore. Let's see if I can manage to lose at least 10 pounds before the Christmas Ball.

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