" For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. " Song of Solomon

October 24, 2007

MIXED MESSAGES: The Message in your Mouth versus the Message in Your Other Parts

Sound bizarre? What, you ask, am I talking about?

Well, think of all the times the tongue in your mouth is saying "o.k." but the "tongue" in your shoes (i.e. your feet) is screaming, "run, run for your life". Which are you going to listen to? You'd be best served listening to the one that would produce the best outcome.

How about this one: the mixed messages you receive when you eat. You eat a particular food and your mouth is saying "yum" but your brain is screaming "bad, bad, bad!". Talk about angst.

Those counter messages can be counterproductive. Which one are you going to listen to? Which one are you going to believe? Obviously, for me, in my life, when it comes to food, the message in my mouth ultimately wins and the proof is in the pudding...just take a look at my body.

Observing me and noting that I need to lose a "few", you'd think the problem was that I chose to follow the wrong message. And I used to think that too. But on closer introspection, I discovered that there was a third process at work. Those conflicting messages--the one in my mouth battling the one in my brain--created a response that I hadn't given much consideration: guilt. And when one feels guilty, he behaves differently than when he feels free. The burden of guilt is a heavy weight, and in my case it played a huge role in my weight increase.

When I'm guilty because I've sinned against God, there is forgiveness given when I confess, which means I admit to God my wrong, and agree with Him that I am wrong and he "forgives" me. But finding forgiveness to the "food guilt" I experience, aside from gluttony, which is a sin, and the Biblical warning that if you're a glutton you might as well put a knife to your throat, because, well, you're killing yourself by overeating anyway, is different because it is self imposed and much more difficult to "escape"and it took me awhile to figure this out.

My response to "eating" guilt was, well, more eating...first eating everything but the desired "bad" food and then finally eating and often bingeing on the "bad" food...a vicious cycle. And the solution to overeating in response to guilt I discovered is to change one of the messages. Now, I knew there was no way I could change the message in my mouth, and convince myself that, say, chocolate or high fat foods like hot dogs tasted yucky.

So, I came up with a new message for my head...one that would not fight the message in my mouth, and thereby eliminate the guilt factor, and now, freed from the burden of guilt and the necessary processing of it which for me is always "heavy", I was able to eat, enjoy, and move on. Whereas before, the guilt was processed in part by self-recrimination and thinking myself a loser and failure with no will power, which I knew to be a lie, hence a second struggle.

So I reprogrammed my thinking about all my "bad" foods. I say "my" because mine will be different than yours. I came up with a list of positive benefits, that would support my "yum" mouth response and not fight it. Like : yum, thank God for this daily supply of sustenance. Or: how wonderful to be able to actually eat this food and not have to receive it through a feeding tube. Sound silly? maybe...but your mouth won't argue with you.

And part of the reprogramming was looking at my bad foods from a different parameter nutritionally. Instead of seeing pizza as a high fat, high calorie food to be exiled, I choose to look at it as protein, fat and carbohydrates. The crust has some fiber, and supplies calories and carbs for quick energy. The sauce, tomatoes, are a vegetable, high in vitamin C and lycopene. The meat, supplies protein to help rebuild my cells. And last but not least the cheese supplies additional protein, but as importantly, FAT...which my body needs, and which will help me feel full longer, and make the food taste good so I can derive some pleasure in its consumption.

The resultant outcome for me is that I end up eating less of the bad food, and experience more joy and pleasure, which, I hear aids in digestion.

So, are you getting mixed messages when you eat? Are they helpful, or counterproductive? As unimportant as it may seem, I think it is something everyone who struggles with eating issues should examine. It is an important step I think to the "right" relationship with food, and especially so, since we must deal with food as long as we are living and able to eat.
"....there have been many times when I have shed bitter tears, when if I had understood the situation better, I would have celebrated my good luck instead."


I am not a doctor and all information, suggestions, etc are my personal opinion only.