It can feel like spinning out of control, when we have too much to do, too many responsibilities, too little time, and every time you step on the scale that needle ticks a little higher. It’s frightening. In a word.
You need to find a way to get calm and gain control over not just your weight, but over the whole living thing.
Writing is a great way to think, and thinking is a great way to figure out what matters, what doesn’t, to track data about your body, and of course to lose weight, raise health.
What’s on our minds guides our actions. The physical act of writing out our intentions for taking care of our bodies carves our thoughts into our brains and holds them there a little longer than usual. Long enough to act on our intentions, usually.
The more mindful we are about our eating, the more likely we are to eat less and eat well. It’s not a perfect technique, granted, but it really helps.
Most importantly, tracking how you feel, how you react to different foods will help you find out which foods don’t work for you. There are many foods that my body has a hard time digesting. I don’t do well with wheat, for instance. I can’t handle most of the preservatives used in fruit or meat products. Eating these things generates low-level inflammation. Inflammation not only makes me feel lousy all over, but inflammation is linked to weight gain. Watch out for the next wave of diet books that will talk about inflammation and its influence on weight gain.
Whether it has an influence on weight gain or not, inflammation makes you feel awful. So it makes sense to learn to avoid foods that don’t work on you, or to eat them only rarely.
Got your favorite writing tool? Then start asking yourself some questions about your eating habits. Lately, I’ve been keeping these two lists:
What foods make me feel great when I eat them?
What foods make me feel lousy?
Two little questions whose answers change with seasons, time of day, level of stress. They’re interesting questions to consider and consider again.
For instance, I have noticed that eating raw cabbage slaws makes me feel like leaping small buildings. I write it down. Not everyone reacts to raw cabbage this way, I know.
But eating fresh-baked bread, no matter how much I love it, is a good way to put myself to sleep and wake up feeling horrible.
Something in canned soup stuffs my nose. A good fresh yogurt will ease any anxiousness. It’s reliable as rain.
Serious oatmeal made from whole or steel-cut oats gives me the sense that I can endure anything ahead of me. On my body, the well-being from a bowl of oats can only be matched by the satisfying salt rush of a good proscuitto. The same salty meat is not so good for my husband’s high blood pressure.
I can count on chocolate giving me a migraine and causing me to crave more chocolate within a couple of hours. But it’s so good going down. Same with martinis, which I love nearly as much. When I first heard of chocolate martinis, I both craved and feared them. But i didn’t drink them. I knew and remembered too well to try it.
And this is the real point of the exercise. Every time I do it, I learn something about how my body responds to different foods. Does your nose rebel over nitrates, your sinuses shut down with sulfites? As I work to record these things, I begin to notice and connect foods to symptoms of both well-being and distress.
Write and write and write, and eventually you will learn to avoid some foods, and learn to crave others — because cravings can be learned, I swear. I am unraveling my chocolate craving and knitting up a craving for yogurt. These days I get grabby in the grain aisle, and waltz easily past the deli meats. I hardly recognize my pantry some days.
Did you know garlic-stuffed olives can cut your cold symptoms in half? I double-pinkie swear they work that way for me. I have three colds’ worth of data to back me up on this. (Eat lots of them to prevent the cold from spreading to other people, who will stay yards away for the duration of the virus’ visit.)
I love the surprises. This week’s kohlrabi kick made me monstrously happy, and gave me that giddy kind of rush from food that revs you up. The blueberries gave me a buzzy satisfaction that lasted for hours. But the maple sugar candy sent me hunting for painkillers again. We had a watermelon so good this week, my husband wanted to thank it.
Your body log, your journal, is your maintenance manual for your sweet self. Once in awhile take some time to note which fuels make you purr, and which make your engine knock. Good data rule. They help you find the foods make you go. Or not go.
And you go.