And the experiment continues (no more calorie counting)

It seems like everyday I am trying something new with my diet.

This weekend (and in the coming week), I have made a deal with myself to try the previously unthinkable.

I am not counting calories.

I have put away the LoseIt and I am going on trust. In other words, I am going to trust my body to tell me what she wants to eat and in what quantities.

For those of you who don’t know me, this is as scary as hell.

I’ve been counting calories (and keeping a food diary) for three years now – religiously.

But I decided that it’s time to cut myself some slack and to try trusting myself around food for a change.

And this doesn’t mean that I am doing the mental calorie calculations in my head and just not writing them down, which is what I sort of what I thought would happen. I literally haven’t even thought about the calories. To tell you the truth, it’s more liberating than I thought it would be (and it sort of belies all of those times that I told myself [and Michael J] that I really loved counting calories)! Because, to be honest, meal time – and life in general – is so much more pleasant and relaxed without it.

The interesting thing is that it seems like I am actually eating less than I was when I was counting calories! I think part of this is because since I am trying to feel that satiation point (instead of eating a certain number of calories) I have really slowed down my eating. It’s amazing how much less you eat when you slow down enough to savor each bite.

The hardest part of this whole thing I am realizing is not the trusting, but the slowing down. Sometimes (most times) I am three or four bites into it before I realize that I am eating way too fast. When that happens, which it does at least twice a day, I have to literally put down the fork (or the spoon or the piece of flax bread) and remind myself to breathe.

I’ve been trying to remember to take three deep breaths before I put anything in my mouth and to continue to take deep breaths through my nose while I eat, but it hasn’t been perfect. Slowing down and breathing while you eat makes a huge difference. I enjoy my food more. I eat less. And I feel much more satiated.

I would like to say that I discovered these strategies on my own, but alas that would not be the case!

To give credit where credit’s due, I am currently reading The Slow Down Diet: Eating For Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss, by Marc David. It’s a great book. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t have any weight to lose. It seems so intuitive, yet potentially life changing.

In fact, it may be that this relatively short, easy to read book may hold the last of the answers I’ve been searching for.

As the title suggests, the key is really about slowing down enough to trust yourself – neither of which I have been able to master in my previous relationship with food. This program seeks to remedy that by encouraging you to get in touch with your “inner nutritionist” and to really be present, pay attention, and get in alignment with your needs and desires.

And although the focus is on food, if you squint a little, you can see quite easily how the principles therein could also apply to pretty much every aspect of your life.

Essentially, The Slow Down Diet is designed to be implemented over an eight week period. Each week focuses on one of the “eight universal metabolizers,” which David identifies as Relaxation, Quality, Awareness, Rhythm, Pleasure, Thought, Story, and the Sacred.

At some point, he states that our approach to food (or eating) mirrors our approach to life. In other words, the way we do food is the way we do life. Reading this book, especially the chapter on awareness, has made me see that not only do I not eat with awareness, I also don’t live my life with awareness to the degree that I would like. That is, I don’t bring my full concentration to bear on many things – not just the food that I used to shovel down unthinkingly, but also my relationships, my work, or my home.

As I work on implementing the principles of this diet in my relationship with food, I also hope to deploy them in other areas of my life. Wouldn’t it be nice to be more relaxed, to have more quality, to be more aware, and to experience more rhythm, pleasure, and thoughtfulness? Wouldn’t it be absolutely joyous to rely (or access) better stories and to be more profoundly in tune with the sacred?

Potential for weight loss aside, doesn’t it just seem like a better way to live?

I know that when something sounds too good to be true, it often is. But there is something so intuitive about this book; it makes so much sense to me at such a deep level that I could not not try it.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted as the experiment continues. I do, however, think it’s worth noting that I do trust myself enough to at least try it, which, for those of you who know my history, is truly saying something and really speaks to the identity-level changes that have occurred over the last three years.

If you’re someone who bolts your food down without tasting it, who eats in the car, or who lives off fast food only to find yourself back in front of the fridge (or back in the drive-thru) an hour later, then I recommend you read this book. Who knows, it might change your relationship with food.

And, if you let it, it might also change your relationship with yourself, if not your entire orientation towards life.

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