Tuesday, July 14, 2009

(24) Eating Out & Appeasing Cravings

In the comments after chapter (9), Just Batty, said this: When I eat out (which is often, because of travel/work) I think "Oh, I have to eat all of this pasta or speciality pizza, or chicken or whatever because I won't be able to have it again for awhile and it's sooo good!"
I know I over eat, but these are my cravings. Not candy, not food at my house, not food at the grocery store, not even food at restaurants in Vernal, just what I eat out of town. To the point that I refuse to eat at a restaurant that is available in Vernal. What do I do then?"

I think there are two parts to this comment. The first being the issue of wanting to finish everything on your plate at a restaurant because it is "so good", you paid good money for it, and you may not get it again for awhile. This used to be a thorn in my side as well. When all that food is sitting right in front of you, it's hard to not eat it all. I think sometimes food actually has the same affect as an addictive drug would have.
Last night I watched a show on TLC called "I Eat 33,000 Calories A Day". It was very sad and quite shocking. It showed the actual amount of food that the four spotlighted very morbidly obese people eat in single day. It was dumbfounding to say the least. One of the women said something to the effect of feeling a euphoric high when she would binge eat. I've talked about needing to be aware of food while eating it but that wasn't her problem. She was very aware of her food. To the point of focusing only on the food and shutting everything else out completely. She'd get lost in the food, how it smelt, tasted, felt in her mouth and then going down her throat... She was doing all the things you need to be doing when you eat...only the actual amount of food she was eating was 5-6 times the amount of food her body actually needed.
You may be experiencing something comparable to this if you're eating out and have a difficult time stopping when you're at a 5. Not only do you love the food but also the whole experience of eating out. There's a waiter to serve you. You don't have to cook the food. You get to sit in a nice air conditioned/heated room where the atmosphere is specifically set up to help you feel good. And then this huge plate of food is placed before you. It smells so good and looks amazing. You want to get every last bit of joy from your dining out experience.
You start eating and find yourself "satisfied" much sooner that you'd like and long before your plate is empty. You feel disappointment and even anger at hitting a 5 so quickly. You wanted this experience to last a lot longer.
At this point my reaction used to be to throw up my white flag and surrender. I'd decide in my mind to just forget 0-5 for the meal. I was eating out so I'd give myself a free pass to binge. I could always start again tomorrow.
At that moment my eating became not an experience of enjoyment but a frenzied rush to stuff every last morsel of food down my throat...and then anything my kids' had left on their plates. I was already so full it hurt, I may as well keep going. I'd only stop eating after every last crumb was gone and the plates practically licked clean. Then came the uncomfortable drive home. I'd feel guilt and disgust at what I'd just done and I felt so full that it seemed I'd never want to eat again.
The only way I've found to stop overeating while eating out is practice. Trying over and over again to stop at a 5. After awhile I became able to stop at a 5, pack the rest of the food into a carry-out and then leave without eating more. I had to accept the fact that it's just food and I wasn't going to let it have the power in my life anymore. The more times I successfully ate out, the easier it became. I'm still a work in progress and it's still difficult sometimes but it gets easier and easier with every success.

I think the second issue to this comment is how to satisfy your cravings if it is impossible to get the food you really crave. My advice is take a moment to just be still. Get in tune with your body and ask it if there's anything else you could eat that would come close to what you're actually craving. If you're wanting a specialty pizza, would some kind of pasta with plenty of melted cheese satisfy you? If you want a chicken dish from Olive Garden, could you home make a chicken dish with a nice gravy? What could you eat besides your craving that would make your body feel good? The internet is filled with amazing recipes you could try out. Sometimes the foods you really want wont be available and you'll have to make due with what you have or can afford.
If you don't like the restaurants in your town, it seems the only other option would be to learn to cook food the way you really like it, or find an optional dish at a grocery store that is pre-made.
I've found that sometimes food just can't satisfy me the way I want and even need it to. After eating 0-5 for so long you forget what it's like to eat emotionally. So when there is an emotional issue that you're having a hard time dealing with you'll feel a little lost on how to handle it. You wont want to eat but you'll still feel unsettled. The only way to alleviate the feeling is to find something else to occupy your mind. Something other than food or that you feel uncomfortable in the first place.


  1. Thanks for the info. You made some really good points that I REALLY need to practice and others that I really didn't think about. I really LOVE your blog, it helps so much and I've already noticed a change. Not a big one, but a good 6 lbs!

  2. Hey Heather,
    I know you've been really busy with the move and getting set up in a new town. But it would be nice to have an update, maybe with a picture in the outfit you've been using to show your progress?