Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day After Surgery..How'd I Get Here?

I began studying natural and intuitive eating about three years ago.  I can't remember exactly where I heard of the method (a blog, I believe) but it's principles seemed sound and grounded in logic and best nutritional practices.  Intuitive Eating, as defined by Tribole and Resch (2003) is simply following these ten principles:

1.  Reject the Diet Mentality
2.  Honor Your Hunger
3.  Make Peace with Food
4.  Challenge the Food Police
5.  Feel Your Fullness
6.  Discover the Satisfaction Factor
7.  Cope with Your Emotions Without Using Food
8.  Respect Your Body
9.  Exercise-Feel the Difference
10. Honor Your Health-Gentle Nutrition

After two years of trying to practice intuitive eating, most principles clicked for me except for #5, Feeling Your Fullness (I didn't) and #7, Coping With Your Emotions Without Using Food ( I couldn't).  I knew I needed more serious support for both.  The best support group for me continues to be Greenlake Nutrition's "Women's Emotional Eating Workshop".  Here's a testimonial I wrote for them last year:

"...I just finished a 5-week group counseling workshop with Ying and Julie at Green Lake Nutrition. One of the best self-care efforts I've ever undertaken. If you're looking for clarity and help transforming your relationship with food that empowers you to make healthy living a daily practice, I cannot imagine a better resource.  The $$ to value ratio was fair and both Ying and Julie are fantastic counselors:  Compassionate, inspiring and real masters at getting our group of six women to open our hearts and let our hair down. If you’re someone who reacts intensely to feelings and emotions (your own, others’, etc..) and uses food to mask, anesthetize or otherwise cope with said feelings to the point where it affects your life negatively, you might find this type of group counseling a life-saver."  - KJ

And, I have found it a life-saver.  I am more at peace with feeling feelings and have quite an arsenal of new coping skills when dealing with life's unpleasantness.  I'm quite certain this quest for equanimity and mindfulness requires lifelong practice and that the increase in day-to-day happiness makes the practice well worth it. 

However, the more research I did on over-eating the more I discovered the disconnect some folks have between feelings of fullness, satiation and the hormones ghrelin and leptin.  For a variety of reasons, many overweight and obese people have out-of-whack hunger and metabolic hormones.  And, mindfulness or not, if you're getting a chemical signal to GO EAT NOW or don't have the chemical signal that readily says STOP EATING NOW, you're just hanging on by sheer will.  And that is exhausting and not sustainable.

The relationship between emotions, hormones and the brain and body's chemical signals is complex and opinions will vary about how to approach.  I'm curious about combining a surgical approach to help control the hunger and hormonal aspects of over-eating with continued emotional eating counseling to build mindfulness and coping skills.

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