I stood there alone in front of the open refrigerator, shoveling handful after handful of food into my mouth, barely chewing before swallowing, only to repeat the action over and over again.
Once the ice cream was gone, I was onto the Oreos, then the leftover chicken, then finishing off the bag of chips I had sworn not to eat.
Tears poured from my eyes, hatred fueled my heart, and self-loathing filled the room with an aroma in the spirit too putrid to endure.
Once again, I was on an out-of-control binge.
This was a more-than familiar scene. In fact, it had become a daily nightmare. Despite the promises to ‘never do it again,’ the lists of things I was going to carry out differently, and the rigid plan I had sworn to adhere to, no matter how hard I tried, it never lasted.
The truth was hard to swallow: I was addicted to food.
The extremes of eating disorders began in college. I had gained a few extra pounds from my regular rail-thin high school physique. Instead of learning to eat correctly, I began restricting completely. Anorexia turned to bulimia, and bulimia and overeating plagued my life like locusts eating up a world full for green. My daily existence was slowly slipping away, one day and one bite at a time.
The obsession with my body wasn’t about health. It was about perfection. The infatuation with eating right wasn’t about eating right. It was about staying thin. And the compulsion with food wasn’t even really about the food. It was about being in control of something in a world that was completely out of my control.
Health became associated with bondage, and bondage was a cage I knew all too well.
It took years to get free from my eating disorder (as those of you know who have read my book) and to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle with food. But it’s a freedom I now enjoy COMPLETELY. I don’t struggle with food anymore, because I finally allowed my HEART and the reasons behind the food addiction to get healed. You can’t get free any other way.
Your body is a genius. It’s basic function is survival. You scrape your knee, it bleeds, scabs, and heals. You get a cold, your white blood cells go to work, eliminating toxins from the body.
I want to talk a bit today about the fascinating world of your metabolism and it’s fight for survival.
Now, let me make this very clear, I’m not a doctor. I haven’t gone to school or obtained my degree in nutrition or biology, but after years of meeting with nutritionists, in-patient rehab for my eating disorder, and reading heaps of materials, I do know a thing or two, both from being taught and from personal experience.
As a young college student beginning to gain weight for the first time in my life, I thought that the best solution to lose the excess pounds was to skip meals altogether. This seemed logical. Don’t eat=lose weight. However, I was about as wrong as Hitler.
Your metabolism is like a fire. When you wake up in the morning and don’t put fuel (food, nutrients) on the fire, the fire wanes, thus, your metabolism lowers. Say you wait until lunch to each your first meal. Your body (that’s a genius and geared towards survival) has learned by your lack of food that your eating is inconsistent and it doesn’t know when it’s going to get food again. So the lunch that it SHOULD burn as fuel gets stored as FATS on your body.
Or here’s another scenario. Say you eat breakfast, then you wait 5-6 hours to eat lunch, or maybe even skip lunch and get to dinner. Same thing happens. Your body burns the breakfast food as fuels, boosting your metabolism. Then, by lunchtime, or in the early afternoon, your blood sugar has dropped tremendously, lowering the fire of your metabolism. When your body finally does get the food it needs in the early afternoon/evening, it does the same thing. It stores the food as FATS instead of burning it as FUEL, because it has learned that your eating is inconsistent and it doesn’t know when the food will come again.
It’s a genius. It’s geared towards survival.
I remember my first day in treatment for my eating disorder. We were served 3 enormous meals, along with 2-3 snacks (depending on what we needed), and I thought, ‘There is NO WAY I’m going to lose weight eating this huge amount of food everyday.’ (I had stopped purging the summer before and entered treatment around 30-40 pounds overweight). To my absolute shock, because my metabolism was being recalibrated and regulated, the weight began to come off correctly, eating way more than I’d eaten in years. I was finally losing weight the correct way.
My body and my metabolism were being regulated, the fire of my metabolism kept burning strong all day (because it was consistently getting fuel), and every time it started to go down, I’d have to eat another snack or meal, keeping fuel on that fire to keep it going.
So let me tell you what most of my days looks like.
I ALWAYS eat breakfast. Always. Even if I don’t feel like it, I eat breakfast. (Over the weeks, we’ll get into the types of food and what your body needs). That kick-starts my metabolism and gets the fire going.
Because I’ve eaten breakfast, I’m always hungry faster. By 10:30-11, I’M STARVING. This is a good thing! This just means your metabolism is working the way it should. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If it’s hungry, feed it. If it’s growling, silence the monster. Mid-morning, I give it a snack to kept the fire going, maybe a handful of almonds and raisins or a piece of fruit with some brazil nuts. (pair good fats with sugars to keep the blood sugar regulated. We’ll talk more about this later).
Then I eat lunch. I eat a good-sized lunch and breakfast because you NEED bigger meals earlier in the day. You need the fuel. American culture has built food around dinner, but that’s actually usually my smallest meal of the day, since it’s at the end of the day and I don’t need the fuel.
Ok, mid-afternoon, I’m usually starving again. I eat a granola bar or a piece of turkey and cheese. Maybe almonds again and a piece of fruit.
Then by dinner, I’m usually feeling great, not STARVING since I’ve had a mid-afternoon snack, and I don’t go crazy with my portions (like I would if I had to wait until dinner to eat again). If I’m hungry later that evening, I might have a night snack, but I’m usually not hungry since I’ve fed myself all day long, usually 5-6 times during the day. (But if the tummy does start to growl, I listen to my body and I eat something small!).
By eating all day long, my metabolism has stayed high the entire day. It’s learned that it’s going to get food when it’s hungry, so it’s able to burn the food I eat as fuels and doesn’t store them on my body as fats.
It’s not in survival mode.
Do you ever skip meals, thinking that it will help you lose weight? Is your metabolism shot and you need to press a reset button?
1. ALARM: Set your phone alarm or watch in increments of 2-3 hours, depending on your schedule. Try eating 5-6 times a day for a week and see how your hunger/body/metabolism begins to change. You will eat more frequently, maybe even more food, and you will be more hungry.
This is a GOOD thing. It means your metabolism is getting faster.
Do you have a hard time with portion control, or do you get so hungry you go crazy and make poor food choices?
2. PLAN AHEAD. I always keep a bag of raw almonds and some raisins or prunes (yep, prunes!) in my purse, just in case I get caught in a position where I know I need food, but I’m not able to get what I need. I just pop a handful of almonds and I can instantly feel my blood sugar regulating and my hunger going away. My metabolism is staying strong in the process!
Don’t just ‘hope’ that you make correct food choices during the day. Be prepared. Go to the grocery store. Have little baggies ready with healthy, yet filling snacks (they need to have some sort of fats in them) to keep your body tied over until your next meal. Keep that metabolism going and fired up.
3. TIP: If you are eating out, I can tell you right now the portion is going to be too big. For year after year in my early 20’s, there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to be able to stop in the middle of my plate. I had no idea how to do that. If the food was in front of me, I was going to eat it.
Ask your waiter BEFORE they bring your meal out, to half the portion in the kitchen and put it in a to-go box. You instantly have an accountability system in place, and another meal in the fridge to eat later!
You CAN recalibrate your metabolism. Anyone can.
Start this week and see how including breakfast and snacks does to your appetite and body. Journal the changes you see as your body begins working the way God intended it to as you begin to give it what it needs.
Xx, Sista Christa
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