Shhh…Mind the Baby…Habit

SeedlingI am hardly Miss Meditation. In an early post, I mentioned that I found the idea of Mindful Eating was boring. But my attempts at circling in to better eating behavior were just not working. Sure, I was eating plenty of vegetables, and drinking plenty of water, but the poundage of chocolate eaten on the couch was easily overwhelming my other efforts. And the poundage was sticking to me.

So, on my birthday, the day I found I had re-gained twenty hard-lost pounds, I read the first two chapters of Mindful Eating and tentatively began to practice it.

And found it not at all boring. If I really pay attention to the food, the process has its own pleasure, sort of like stepping into a warm bath, or sitting on the porch on a sunny spring day and feeling the sun on your face. Who knew?

The wonderful side effect of tuning in is that I noticed when I’d had enough – way before eating half a bag of Oreos.

I hadn’t yet blogged about this experience. It felt too new, too tender. I didn’t want to crush it by shining too bright a light on it. Nor did I want to have to admit later that I only kept it up for a week.

A few days into these first attempts at mindful eating, parosmia crashed into my life. Nauseated and disoriented, I stumbled around just trying to find where the horrible smell was coming from, and learning what few foods I could eat.

Three weeks into parosmia, I have a list of foods that taste good or at least all right, and have begun to branch out a bit. Added to white rice, potatoes, and French bread, I discovered pound cake and vanilla ice cream. Yesterday I tolerated a bowl of white rice mixed with plain canned diced tomatoes and plain canned kidney beans. The protein felt so good!

But as I re-discover high-fat, high-sugar foods, I’m realizing that parosmia can become an excuse to return to compulsive eating. “Oh I’m sick, I need special treatment…Honey, would you please bring me another piece of cake?”

So, tentatively, I am returning to mindful eating. Yesterday I baked a small potato, added margarine, placed it in my favorite blue bowl, sat at the table without the radio on, admired the hand-embroidery on the table-cloth, took a bite of potato, rolled the rich, soft potatoey-ness around in my mouth, and enjoyed the feeling of food reaching my stomach. A small potato was just the right food, and just the right amount for that meal. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mindful eating is still new. It’s still tender. I still have parosmia. I continue to stumble around doing the best I can.

Life is good.

Parsley Gratitude

GasMaskAt bedtime I often review the day and name things I am grateful for. The list always starts with my husband Ed, then meanders through the day’s activities, perhaps including pancakes, a chat with a neighbor, a completed project, a hot bath. But not until today did the list include parsley.

A week or so ago I started noticing a vile smell in the house. It assailed me as I reached the bottom of the stairs in the morning. Opening the refrigerator, I realized I hadn’t cleaned it out in way too long. I worried whether the recent sewage leak in our basement was back.

Ed and I cleaned out the fridge thoroughly. I checked the sewer pipe (no leak). I started sniffing everywhere – the heat vents, under the couch, the attic where we have bats, the trash can, the closets. No source found.

The smell got worse and more pervasive — a nice concoction of rotten onion, dog doo, and vomit – flambé.

When the newly sparkling and baking-soda’d fridge started stinking again, I began to realize something was rotten in Denmark. Perhaps I was smelling normal things, but they smelled “wrong” to me. I had heard of this in people who have temporal lobe seizures, but not in any other context. Could there be something called “parosmia”?

Yes, there could. Apparently, damaged olfactory cells are trying to regenerate, but they’re not hooked up to the interpretation center properly, so they just send out random (and in most cases unpleasant) signals.

Turns out the smell at the bottom of the stairs in the morning was Ed’s coffee brewing. The smell of onions makes me gag. The fridge was putting out the gases of ripening fruit and vegetables. Mint is horrible, including toothpaste.

And, I can’t stand the smell of chocolate! I can’t figure out if this is a nightmare, a dream come true, or just God having a chuckle.

I am trying to figure out what to eat. Ed took all the produce out of the fridge and put it in a cooler outside. He re baking-soda’d the fridge (see why he’s first on my gratitude list?) and it is now bearable. I am eating white bread, peeled potatoes and margarine. I never thought I would miss vegetables.

But parsley tastes great. Picked out of my front yard, it’s crisp and fresh, and decidedly not disgusting.

Parsley potatoes for supper.

I’m so grateful!

Many happy returns

carrot bdayToday is my 63rd birthday. The week leading up to it has coincidentally not been a good one. Unfortunately, having a rough week means I ate constantly and skipped my exercise class a couple of times. This completed the gain-back of the 20 pounds I lost two years ago. Sigh…

But I decline to remain discouraged. A birthday is a great time to re-assess, re-group, and get a fresh start.

In reviewing what I have been doing since I started this blog, I realize that I have been dancing around the central issue like the elephant in the room dancing around a maypole.

I just don’t want to give up eating on the couch; with acrostics, with books, with Netflix.

So I’ve been trying to change all the peripheral habits. And having some success. More weeks where I eat lots of fruits and veggies, more mornings where I prepare ice water for the day to have handy, and, till this week, the occasional meal at the table.

But what I’m realizing is that the core of the issue is the couch eating. The mindless eating. The eating for comfort, the addictive eating.

So, “just for today”, as those wonderful 12-step people say, I am going to do the two most important things:

  • Eat only at the table
  • Include fruits/vegetables with every meal or snack

And I’ll keep working on the peripheral things which make it easier to do those two things. I’ll keep prepped fruits/veggies in the fridge, plan what’s for dinner, fill my thermos.

So far my birthday has been great. I went to exercise class, went out to lunch with Ed, (at a table!) and received a sung “Happy Birthday” message from my daughter.

Who could ask for anything more?

Gut bacteria revolting

Calling for whirled peas
Calling for whirled peas

I am fascinated by the notion that my body is simply a cosmos for supporting my bacteria. When I read that our gut flora may be affecting our behavior, I started feeling a warm fuzzy feeling about my microbes. Especially when I watched this cute little NPR animation: http://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=244526773&mediaId=245227995  . So now, if my GI system seems a bit off, I think of it as my gut bacteria trying to communicate with me.

This week has been a case in point. From a recent post, you may (or may not) recall that one of my goals is to include fruit or veggies with every meal or snack. I mentioned that cherry/blueberry season makes this a breeze. I can whip through a pound of cherries a day easy as pie. (Pie? Did someone say pie?)

So I ramped up my summer regimen of radically changing from the XXL Peanut M&M’s to blubes, salads and cherries, only to have my junk-food loving gut bacteria start to bellyache, gripe, and raise a stink. They immediately began picketing (with sharp sticks, I could tell), carrying signs like: “Sugar YES, Fiber NO!” and “New Dietary Practices Unfair to the Masses!” I could feel the rumblings of revolution. In fact, for a day or two, we had outright war, with Kamikaze bugs becoming flushed with fervor. Quite a few bombs were detonated.

Well in order to calm the waters, I needed to give the fruit-troops time to grow, so I continue to eat fruit, but in much smaller quantities. And sure enough, as balance is achieved, things are settling down. What I’m hoping is that they will learn to live in harmony and quit all this ferment.

But I’m there to listen. And obey.

Goal for week 4:

Make a list of habits I have improved. Report this list on the blog next week. Receive praise from my thousands of blog fans (or at least from my gut bacteria.)