Eating without Guilt

A few weeks/months ago, Dinneen discovered my blog and left a comment or two.  The name of her website, Eat Without Guilt, intrigued me, so I clicked over and discovered her story.  What she had to say about the way the French eat vs how we eat here in the States went right along with what I’ve been reading lately, and I could totally relate to her yo-yo dieting story.

As I poked around her site, I discovered her coaching business.  I liked what Dinneen had to say about enjoying the food you love without guilt.  I have always struggled with my relationship with food. Even typing that word – relationship – seems silly and melodramatic when talking about food, but if I’m honest with myself I know that it’s the truth.  Even though I’ve managed to maintain my pants size for most of my adult life, it’s been a constant struggle.  I’m the type of person to go to a party and eat myself sick and then skip a meal or two to loose the extra pounds, but this method of weight management is finally catching up with me.  To say nothing of the fact that my mood each day is dictated by the number on the scale.  It’s no way to live.

I knew from Dinneen’s comments on my blog that she was on my page with the traditional eating, so that afternoon, in an impulsive moment, I emailed her and asked her about coaching me.  In addition to developing a healthier attitude about food, I was hoping she could help me figure out if I have food sensitivities that are contributing to my phantom stomach problems.  (Two GI doctors end endless tests have turned up nothing other than the nebulous gastritis and IBS diagnoses, but there has to be SOME thing causing all of my stomach aches.)  For several years I’ve wanted to find a nutritionist to help me get to the bottom of my tummy troubles, but I always felt that I didn’t have the time to go to appointments.  With Dinneen, we can have our meetings on Skype, right in the comfort of our own homes.  It’s the perfect setup!

We’ve been working together for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve had some interesting self-realizations.  For one thing, I eat most of my meals and snacks either at the computer or standing up in the kitchen.  I’ve developed a habit of mindlessly eating while I do other things.  This is bad for both digestion and weight management.  So the first week, my assignment was to eat every morsel of food while sitting at the table.  Along with that, she instructed me to think about why I was eating.  Was I hungry?  Was I celebrating?  Was I drowning my sorrows?  Was I bored?  Do I really want it?

I quickly noticed that when I sit at the table, I am much more aware of when I am full, and I tend to stop eating sooner. Plus, I’m usually busy and eager to get up and do the next thing, so I don’t tend to eat myself into oblivion as I do when I’m mindlessly munching in front of the TV or computer.  When I lapse into my old habit of eating while I prepare dinner or work at the computer, I invariably overeat and feel gross afterward.  Dinneen promises that I can break the habit of eating mindlessly if I make a conscious effort to do my eating at the table.

The other thing I’ve been doing is keeping a food journal, and not only do I write down what I eat and where I am while I’m eating, but I write down how I feel afterward.  I email my food logs to Dinneen before each Skype appointment, and she looks over them and makes suggestions based on my eating patterns.  I wasn’t surprised when she told me that I need more variety in my diet.  She explained that if I’m eating a better variety of foods, I’ll be more satisfied and won’t have as many cravings to eat.  So this week my assignment is to incorporate more protein and fruits and veggies into my diet.  Check. I can do that.  But then she dropped a bombshell on me.

She wants me to work on breaking my addiction to the scale.

For the past 14 years, I have weighed myself every morning, without fail.  Sometimes I get on the scale a few times, just to make sure it’s consistent.  Then I always weigh myself at night, right before bed, to see if I can predict what the scale will say in the morning.  OCD, anyone?

When I get up in the morning and the scale is up, I’m woefully miserable and crabby.  It affects my mood for the whole day.  Sometimes it gives me the impetus to work harder to lower the number, but sometimes it just makes me want to throw in the towel and gorge on a breakfast of waffles and bacon.  If the scale is down, I’m delighted and the sun is shining on me even if it’s raining outside.  Sometimes that happy number gives me the boost I need to keep my eating in check, and sometimes it gives me license to eat more than I should.  These cues are entirely subconscious.  I know intellectually that I still need to eat sensibly, either to maintain the happy number or lose the unwelcome pounds, but that scale sends subliminal messages to my brain, I’m tellin’ ya.

Despite that, I’ve always credited my obsessive loyal weigh-ins with my weight management over the years.  But yesterday Dinneen had the audacity to suggest that this obsession dedication is actually sabotaging my efforts.  At first I was put off, but the more we talked, the more I could see her point.

Irony of ironies, yesterday I came across this post where Emily of Mommin’ It Up! confessed to the same sort of love/hate relationship with her scale that I have, and she committed to putting away the scale.  I read that and thought to myself, Hunh.  That’s brave.  I could never do that.

Well, folks.  This morning I weighed myself one last bittersweet time and put my scale in the closet. I will allow myself to get it out once a week and hop on to check my progress, but I’m going to try to rely on how I feel rather than the number on the scale to determine how I’m doing.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ve also renewed my commitment to get up and dressed every morning before breakfast.  Ever since the kids started school, I’ve been doing this, and it really goes a long way towards improving my outlook on life.

In a few weeks, I plan to do a little interview with Dinneen so you can learn more about her.  Her story is really interesting.  I love her approach because, as she told me during our first meeting, she tells it like it is.  She also doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.  She believes every person has to figure out what works best for them, and that’s where her services come in.  I can attest, she’s really good at pinpointing where the issues lie and suggesting practical changes to help her clients achieve their goals.  I’m really excited to see if she can help me, once and for all, learn to eat without guilt.  I’ll keep you posted!

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17 Responses

  1. Well aren’t we just two neurotic peas in a pod??

    I really, really identify with everything you wrote in this post.

    I’ve been tempted several times to pull out the scale, but I’ve resisted. So far. I figure that the way I’ve been doing it – weighing every day – hasn’t produced the results I want, so maybe trying something new will help.

    Additionally, I don’t want my daughter to see me weigh myself every day. I tried not to do it in front of her, but I’m sure that there were times that she saw what I was doing, and certainly she could see the scale out in the middle of the bedroom. I don’t want her to see the look on my face (or worse, hear the words come out of my mouth!) when I see the numbers.

    And really? I don’t want that for myself.

  2. Thank you for this post. My mother has suffered from a serious food disorder her whole life and only by being open about these things can we prevent them from being passed on to another generation. I appreciate your honesty about this. 🙂

  3. I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time, which in my case involved avoiding the scale at all costs, including postponing doctor’s visits.

    In the last few months as I’ve started a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been weighing myself several times a week (sometimes daily) and found that it actually helps with motivation to eat right and exercise.

    Maybe when I get to the point where my pants size doesn’t continue to increase, I’ll follow your lead and stop weighing myself. 🙂

  4. So nice to hear you’re getting great info from our sessions already!! I’m really enjoying working with you! Your honestly and open-mindedness definitely help the process along. And it is a *process* which you’ve already realized.

    Like I always say, do what you can. Put it (and you) as a priority, but it’s not about being perfect.

    I’m looking forward to helping you even more, and seeing how not only your relationship to the scale will change — but also your relationship with food, your body, and with your life will all become healthier. As it’s about becoming a healthier person as a whole, and that’s what I love about all this.

    You’re on the road to achieving your goals, and I’m so excited and honored to be guiding, inspiring and motivating you along the way 🙂

  5. I’m so excited for you, Jo Lynn! This is going to be an amazing journey, and I really hope it helps your tummy. Thanks for being so open and honest about your struggles–I think you’re going to help a lot of people while you’re helping yourself.

    Go you!!!

  6. I have a recipe to share with you. It’s always nice to have a few more healthy and yummy recipes. My husband LOVES these…even tho there is no meat! They are packed with protein from the lentils and its so easy to make. In the past Ive made it with white rice out of lazyness. However, last night I made it with brown rice and you couldnt at all taste the difference. The seasonings are amazing and make the meal.


  7. I’m glad that you were able to find someone to help you find balance in your diet. I am just finishing up a bible based healthy living plan and I can attest to the fact that the act of writing down your food and having someone look at it is very helpful in the process.
    Also, my scale has been at my friend’s house for the last 11 weeks (we’re using it for our weekly meetings) and it has forced me to give up my obsession with getting on it every day. I feel very liberated and much more at ease in my skin. I hope the same for you. It is a great feeling!

  8. I would suggest taking the scale into the back yard with a nice, heavy sledgehammer (“Office Space”-style, if you will). I don’t remember the last time I owned a scale. I seriously gauge my weight by how my clothes fit. I’m technically 10 lbs lighter than when I got pregnant with my daughter. But my clothes don’t fit as well as they did pre-baby. In my case, the scale gives me a false sense of feeling better about my weight (right now), until I get dressed!

  9. I love her as well. I haven’t had her coaching, but her words of encouragement via twitter, etc. have been so powerful to me.

    I have to say that I have stopped dieting after NINE YEARS of counting points. I got to the point where I no longer wanted to hate food, have it control my life in a negative way and be consumed by the obsession. I also was sick on being a profit/loss symbol for some diet company that told me I couldn’t do it without them.

    It’s about me.

    I think that journaling why you’re eating and sitting down and eating not infront of something is super key. I have found that have a glass of water, tea, coffee with me at my computer or tv has helped curb the urge to sit infront of something in hand.

    Further, the other morning I woke up and looked at the scale, after doing what you’ve been doing for the past nine year, with tears in my eyes and said ‘I am putting you away. You have bound me to mood swings, desperation, and a sense of self-worth wrapped up in numbers. I am scared to let go of you, but I have to.’

    I put it in my closet.

    Good luck. I am excited to see your journey.
    Thanks for sharing.


  10. I’m glad to hear this!

    I have the same issue of when I eat, I’m usually just standing in the kitchen and I usually wait until I’m starving instead of eating at a “mealtime”. I need to work on that.

    Good luck!

  11. I have never weighed myself every day. In fact, the only times I have weighed myself even regularly is when pregnant or when doing a weight loss contest. And the weekly weigh-ins during the contest made me crazy. I definitely prefer to go by how I feel and how my clothes are fitting, instead of a number on a scale. As you know by now, so many things besides food can influence that number. Good luck cutting it back!

  12. I’m so glad you’re taking an active approach! Sounds like Dinneen is giving you great advice. I’m looking forward to your interview with her and checking out her blog!

  13. Really interesting post, Jo-Lynne. I dont know any woman who DOESNT have an issue with eating, the scale, their weight. Even the skinny minnies seem to not be at peace with the whole subject. Funny how we’re never really satisfied with our bodies. Good luck with your journey…cant wait to hear more!

  14. I haven’t been on a scale in YEARS and have no clue what to write down on sheets that ask my weight (LOL) and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I gauge my weight-loss by how my clothes are fitting and surprisingly, I’m alot happier, now, when I can fit in a smaller size pant or shirt than I was with an actual number loss.

    I’ll tell you what, the freedom to eat whatever you want is a beautiful thing. I’ve been following the “eat when you’re stomach growls, stop when you’re satisfied” rule and I’ve done better with that than limiting what I can and cannot have!

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