I was a compulsive overeater, like many other people. From the moment I woke up in the morning until I closed my eyes each night, I obsessed about food and dieting. I was never hungry, yet I was never full…enough.
An entire Little Caesar’s pizza was what made me happy. There was a warm feeling I got when I ate. I would bake a cake, double layer Strawberry with cream cheese icing, and enjoy slice after slice, after slice. Gulping down a glass of milk with each slice made it even better. I just loved that feeling of calm, satisfaction…I would literally dance around the house while I was overindulging in food.
After the food high started to leave my body, the diet obsession would take hold. “Why did I do that?!”, I would scold myself. “Starting tomorrow, I am going to do the Cabbage Soup diet (just to name one fad diet I tried). I am going to be strong and I will do it for 30 days! It will be hard but I will do it! Today, you can eat anything you want. It will be the last time you will taste this for 30 days, so be sure to eat extra. I will lose 50 pounds!”. I would promise myself that on a regular basis. After going grocery shopping for all the foods I needed for my diet, I would go to sleep excited for the new ‘me’ to begin. I’d wake up, ready and determined to finally lose this weight. Halfway through the day, food thoughts started to take over. I would be strict on my diet until I got an overwhelming urge to eat ONE animal cracker. “What would it hurt? I will just eat one and that will satisfy my craving. Just ONE”, I would convince myself. You can probably guess what happens next, I eat the entire bag. When I knew I blew the diet for the day, I repeat the previous paragraph and begin to prepare for my diet tomorrow. That cycle would happen over and over, and over and over again. I went from 120 to 198 in about five years. I couldn’t blame it on thyroid, pregnancy, or any other things I could come up with because I knew I was
emotionally, compulsively overeating.
One day while I was trying to research the best diet, I found a book on Amazon, Overcoming Overeating by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter. It was a few bucks, so I ordered it. Maybe this book will be different, the reviews where incredible and many swore by this book. When it arrived, I could barely contain my excitement as I cracked open the book. I read it over the next couple of days and I stopped around chapter 3. I didn’t need to read anymore of it at that time. The author said so many things that resonated with me. I won’t give away her secrets because that wouldn’t be fair to her and it might take away from her amazing book, but one suggestion she gave began to change my life; ‘You can eat anything, and as much as you want’.
I began to think of myself differently, think of food differently and look at myself differently. Not only did I like myself more, I started to taste food for the first time in a long time. I went from 198 pounds down to 131 over a year. A year may sound like a long time when you’re desperate for a quick fix, but a year was a time to learn a new way of eating.
How did I lose 70 pounds in a year and stay that way? I learned to chew my food! Sounds easier said than done, I know. I gave myself a rule, chew each bite at least 25 times (some foods about 15 times minimum), even cake and ice cream. Now about 7 years later, I actually chew double to triple as many times. I allowed myself anything I wanted. No amount was too much. Each bite took me a while to finish, but I was really tasting the food I was eating. I began to notice flavors I hadn’t before, textures that were unique to me. I was noticing I was eating significantly less food because it took me longer to finish a meal. Tasting food slowly led me to make healthier food choices. I would eat my cake, sometimes only a half of a slice before my taste buds were satisfied, sometimes a couple of slices. I would also crave different vegetables or fruits, different grains and proteins. Over the year, I learned about different foods and cooking them (thanks to the Food Network), what I liked and didn’t like. I would even turn down foods I didn’t find appealing, in contrast to before when I would eat anything just because it was food.
If you would like to view food in a new way and see yourself differently, I would first suggest purchasing or renting at your library, Overcoming Overeating by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter. Then the next time you eat, try to chew your food at least 15-25 times. It will seem strange at first, or impossible at times, but stick to it and it will soon become second nature. Please leave comments below if you have helpful suggestions to other Compulsive Overeaters.