Have I mentioned before that I haven’t felt hunger since my surgery? What I mean is, I haven’t felt hunger as I knew it – no more tummy pains when it’s time to eat and no more grumblies that make me wanna chow down hard. I’ve learned to notice other signs that tell me when I’m hungry, like how I sort of feel a little flighty (probably due to low blood sugar) or when I get cranky, something M. knows all too well. But never true hunger.
It shocked me a few weeks after my surgery when I saw this commercial on television for one of those deliciously gooey-looking sundaes from Sonic. I watched as they showed me the fudge-laden treat from all angles, like some sort of dessert porn, and when it was over I looked at M and declared, “I’m so hungry!”
Then I stopped, and I’m sure I had a weird look on my face as I realized the obvious issue.
I wasn’t hungry – I hadn’t been “hungry” for weeks! And how many times did I watch these Sonic commercials, see the ice cream, say I was hungry, and then get up and stuff my face? As the saying goes, “You gotta eat an elephant one bite at a time” and apparently I had eaten my way to morbid obesity one commercial at a time!
That incident really got me thinking about my mental addiction to food, and I’ve been questioning it since. Yes, obviously after almost 30 years of bad habits I am going to notice my inclinations to go off track. But I didn’t even consider the fact that I was eating like some sort of Pavlovian response to outside stimuli, maybe even since I was a kid! I’ve talked with my therapist a lot about my relationship with food, and I’ve worked hard to try to get away from my bad habits. I’ve tried to steer clear of the McDonald’s on the first floor of my hospital, now that I can tolerate French fries. (And don’t get me started on the irony that there’s a Mickey D’s on the first floor of a children’s hospital. We’re told it’s under the guise of our affiliation with the Ronald McDonald House.) I’ve also asked M to not buy me treats at the store, even if he’s getting something for himself. I’m trying to be good, but I still sometimes find myself being bad when I’m not thinking about it, like when I’m eating a second handful of banana chips at my desk at work.
Today I came across this article on Yahoo that referred to a term, “mindless eating”, and I was thrilled! That’s exactly what this is! Eating for the sake of eating and eating for no good reason. Apparently this doctor from Cornell University, Dr. Brian Wansink, has written a book discussing this very phenomenon and ways to combat it. A few of his tips are pretty obvious, like eat with smaller plates so it looks like you have a bigger portion. Some others, like putting the better options in your line of sight in the cabinets and refrigerator weren’t as obvious to me – but it totally makes sense that you’d be more apt to pick something good if it’s the first option you see. I haven’t read his book yet, but I’m hoping to get my hands on it this weekend so I can really try to combat these bad habits. I’m determined to not let the gift of my surgery and dramatic weight loss go to pot because I eat when I’m bored, or worse, when I’m not paying attention!
Here’s hoping you can keep your hands out of the cookie jar too!
Thanks for reading! – A
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