I slept in this morning. Not the best idea when you have to eat five meals on a schedule – one every three hours. I slept so late that I had a caffeine withdrawal headache while I was still sleeping. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. By the time I got up, drank my coffee (to hell, with it, I had my regular half a pot), imbibed the liver cocktail and ate breakfast, it was already time for my first snack of the day. I ate lunch around 2:00 and didn’t have enough time to eat my second snack before I went to my tutoring appointment at 4:00.
The little boy I’m tutoring does not enjoy our sessions. There is a lot of sighing and whining and head smacking, and getting through one book is torturous for him…and me. He is a good reader but lacks confidence, and he spent the first couple of sessions resisting everything I wanted him to do (read a book, practice his spelling words, play a word game – I’m such a meanie!) I had to do something to motivate him, so I resorted to bribery.
Last week, I took a jar of quarters with me. We counted them out ($5.00 worth – see, not a meanie!) and I told him he could have them all if he didn’t complain during our time together. Every time he complained, I would take away a quarter. Fortunately for him, I’m a benevolent dictator, and he walked away from the table with all 20 quarters.
I wanted to mix it up this week, so I asked his mom what his favorite candy was. I stopped by the drugstore on the way to his house and bought a bag of snack-size Kit Kats . He was pretty excited when I showed him the candy and got through most of the session without complaint. He started with three, but I took one away when he balked at practicing his spelling words, so he netted two Kit Kats (and knowledge of how to spell the word environment.)
I could have left the rest of the Kit Kats at his house, but he has three brothers, so I feared the bag wouldn’t survive the week.I brought them home with me. One of the principles of intuitive eating is Make peace with food. This is a major shift in thinking for me. I sort food into three categories: good, bad, and what are you thinking? (Apple? Good! Kit Kat? Bad. Awesome Blossom? Are you freakin’ kidding me?) When you make peace with food, there are no bad foods. A Kit Kat is no better or worse than an apple; sometimes you really do need a break!
Another principle is Honor your hunger: notice when you’re hungry and what you’re hungry for. Is it stomach hunger? Does your body want protein or carbs, yogurt or a banana, fish or chicken? Is it mouth hunger? Are you using chocolate to avoid feelings (guilty!) or do you just want a little something sweet to finish a meal?
On the way home, I noticed I was hungry. I also noticed I was tired – I yawned all the way home and really wanted to lie down. Instead, I ate my snack (celery, carrots, hummus, and chicken) and then met a potential new stylist for my Stella & Dot team. When I got home, it was 8:00. I was ravenous but not sleepy. I felt alert and surprisingly well-rested for 8:00 p.m. I ate dinner, watched Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal (OMG – so good! That Shonda Rhimes sure knows how to do dark and twisty!) and then I remembered the Kit Kats. Sitting in a bag in my kitchen. They weren’t calling to me like this baby,
but I wanted a little something sweet. So I ate one. Or two. Okay, it was three, but who’s counting? The thing is, I didn’t feel guilty, or eat myself into a Kit Kat coma. I didn’t use the Kit Kats to avoid my feelings. Kit Kats aren’t bad, and I’m not a bad person for eating them. HUGE mental shift! It’s hard to undo decades of a dysfunctional relationship with food. It’s not going to happen in three days. It won’t happen in 21 days either, but I’m making progress. I’m giving myself a break, and that’s surely worth a Kit Kat or two.