My left-over Blimpie from last night.
Ugly, but yummy!
I used to say that I hated to eat left-overs, particularly for lunch. I would say it with conviction, and I would back it up with reasons ranging from "I hate old food" to "I'm just not that hungry at lunch time".
But it was a lie. The truth is, I was terrified of eating left-overs. Eating left-overs (along with eating any 'real' food) for lunch and not knowing the calorie count in what I was eating was a non-option. It was some weird complex of my disordered eating ways. I figured, if I knew the exact amount of calories that I consumed for breakfast and lunch, and controlled them and kept them low enough, then I could relax a little on counting calories for dinner. Therefore, in some twisted way, eating left-overs for dinner was peachy keen; but for lunch? NO WAY.
What I did allow myself to eat did not even begin to resemble a real lunch. In my mind, I could eat anything as long as I was sure of the exact calorie count. That 'magical count' was 300 calories. This left me eating delicious and fun (completely kidding) things like: 1 orange (100 cal) and 1 Nature Valley bar (180 cal), or 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (160 cal) and 1 apple (100 cal). My brain had actually become a Calorie Count Encyclopedia of some sorts, and I knew the exact number of calories in many foods, right off the top of my head.
The problem, though, was that I didn't know the calorie counts of any 'real' foods. Like, the number of calories in a pasta dish/rice dish/other food that I made. So, I decided to make things easier for myself by completely avoiding foods that I didn't not know the calories of. This made for the least interesting (and healthy) lunches on the planet. They were boring, not very yummy, and repetitious. But, somehow over the years I had convinced myself that I actually enjoyed these lunches and that I hated to eat real lunch food.
Recently, though, I have progressed to eating left-overs for lunch-- and I cannot tell you how exciting this is for me. It's as if my body says to me, enthusiastically : You mean we can eat the sandwich that was left over from dinner last night?!!! PARTY CITY!!!! (Ooh Ooh!)
Even though I am beyond the moon about this new development in my inuitive eating, I do want to take a moment and point out that getting to this place did not happen over night. The path that worked for me actually started over a year ago--by forcing myself to eat a home-made sandwich for lunch every single day (with a yogurt, and carrots). Boring, yes, but it was a good stepping stone as I could still count the calories that were in the simple sandwich and accompanying snacks.
In the Summer and Fall, my 'real lunch' eating habits waned, and I had a few disordered eating set-backs. Over the Winter months, I somehow, miraculously, got very tired of all of my ED habits. I was completely exhausted from the constant fighting in my own head, and I decided to give intuitive eating a chance. What could I lose?
I began to eat when I was hungry, and stop when I was full. Simple, right? Yes, and no. While the concept was very simple and worked very well at times, my body was so used to being controlled with numbers and what I should or shouldn't eat at a given time, that my intuition couldn't always be trusted. Sometimes I binged and felt awful afterwards. Sometimes I restricted. But, the beauty of it was that I wanted so badly to eat intuitively, that when I did 'fall off the wagon' I picked myself right back up. I learned to forgive myself for slipping. I learned to take every little scrape and bruise as a lesson. My body and mind learned together that when I stuff myself full of chocolate and pizza it makes my stomach hurt and it feels awful. I also learned that when I restricted I was hungry and unhappy.
Now, months after starting to eat intuitively, I can say that it is much easier. I have began to trust my intuition. And, remarkably, I can now enjoy the left-overs for lunch. :)
Sidenote: I really wanted to end my post with the above, but knowing that some of you may have questions about weight, I decided to add this in. My number one reason for not trying intuitive eating sooner was because I was afraid that if I gave myself the option to eat anything I wanted, I would frantically gain weight. Well, I have some great news, eating intuitively did not make me gain any weight. I weigh about the same now than I did before. The only thing that has changed is that I now trust my body and its needs, and as I posted here, I even feel more attractive and at peace with myself.
Please feel free to send me any questions here on my blog, or @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would absolutely love to help any of you along in this journey in any way that I can.