To people who struggle with food issues, food can be:
- comfort/solace (mashed potatoes, mac'n cheese?)
- escape (hard to focus on feelings when knee-deep in Ben and Jerry's)
- fun (thinking about, buying, preparing, decorating, arranging, eating, socializing)
- a numbing agent (to dull feelings)
- a sleep aid (carb coma, anyone?)
I don't think most folks with obesity issues are thinking "Hmmm, and what kind of fuel does my body need right now? Protein? Perhaps a complex carb?" If my experiences mirror those of others, we weren't really thinking at all..AND...at least for me, I wasn't in touch with my body and what it needed. I wasn't in touch with my own heart and mind and what it needed, let alone the body. In fact, the real me was lost deep underneath so much fat I was quite out of touch with anything my body was telling me.
Now as I start fine-tuning this process of getting fit, there are always new things to learn. One I am working hard to understand is how my body uses food as fuel. Questions I am trying to figure out include:
- When should I eat the complex carbs (potato, brown rice, etc.)
- How MUCH is okay per day?
- When and how much protein? Fruits? Veggies?
- Should I have whey protein before my workouts to fuel them, or during, or after?
- What about at night to help me sleep and help the body heal/build muscle?
There is an overwhelming amount of information out on the web and weeding through it I realize I need a guide...someone who's followed the path and figured a lot of this out already to help me cut through the b.s. and get to good. solid information. (Thankfully, I have a friend who is helping me.)
But even then, there is trial and error because everyone's body is different and we all react differently. Here are some basics I know:
- If I try to work out without complex carbs in my system, I'm going to tank. I knew this, and last night I just forgot to have a potato or brown rice. I just had some chicken and an apple (it was late getting home from work.) This morning, I was shaky, dizzy and had a hard time finishing 3 sets of exercises which I did last week rather easily.
- If I don't have enough fat in my diet, I am hungry ALL the time and NOTHING will satisfy it. If there is no fat in my day, I can pig out on nonfat dairy, veggies, chicken, fruit and almost immediately after eating them I'm STILL hungry. Real hunger. Stomach growling hunger. But if I add some olive oil onto the salad, or stir some coconut oil into the smoothie...I feel much more satisfied.
- Timing matters. WHEN I eat carbs really matters. WHEN I eat oils, proteins, fruits, etc. I haven't gotten any of it down to a science, but I'm going to start a journal and try to keep track at least of days that are hard, days I feel dizzy and reflect back on what was missing.
I guess the real bottom line is.......somewhere along the line, food has become fuel to me! I am always asking "What's in it for me" before I eat. Is there enough nutritional content, have I already had too much protein, can I add fats or not, etc. so I can be properly fueled. Wow. That's just crazy right there! :-)
Don't get me wrong. I love food. Thinking about it, shopping for it, finding recipes, cooking it, sharing it, looking at tastes, textures, colors and presentation. All of it. But I do it all now with an eye on what I actually need rather than what I am compelled to have. It's amazing.
I'm discovering a freedom from worrying about food and getting food into its proper place - to fuel my body so I can go out and have energy to do all the things I had put on hold for decades.