Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week 5 - realizations

This week has been mostly good - I had lots of energy when needed, but I was able to spend a day being totally mellow and not doing much when my kiddo was home sick from school.  She needed some mummy-on-the-couch-reading time and I had no problem doing that, so that was good.

I've had two big realizations this week.  The first is that hunger really isn't an emergency.  Years ago, I remember reading some mostly-silly article about the habits and attitudes of thin people.  The only one that stuck in my head was that "hunger is not an emergency".  And it's undeniably true - when I'm out running errands and I get hungry, nothing bad is going to happen if I wait another hour or so until I get home to eat rather than popping into Starbucks for a snack.  (I say Starbucks because they actually have decent snacks - fruit and cheese plates, veggies sticks and hummous, that sort of thing.  I don't even mean doughnuts, there's just no justification for those.)  Even if it's a good snack, at the end of the day, I just don't need it.  The problem is, under "normal" conditions, it's really, really hard to make a good case for this to a large part of my brain.  "Oh, but there's a Starbucks right there," says my brain.  "It would only take a second. Then you could get MORE done, right? And you wouldn't need as much lunch." (It's lying about the last bit, by the way.)

Now, though, it's really, really easy to not do it. Even though technically, I could eat the raw veggies from Starbucks, I don't even slightly want to actually do that.  Hunger really isn't an emergency any more.  My brain is happy to let me putter on, hungry-ish, until I get my stuff done.  And then I eat.  And I don't eat any more than if I'm only a tiny bit hungry (or not hungry.  But I don't eat when I'm not hungry any more.)  Yesterday morning I got up, had tea, took the kid to school and the husband to work, went to the gym and did a sprint workout on the rowing erg, then on my way home realized that while it was nice and sunny NOW there were some ominous clouds on the horizon.  Remembering the previous day's sunny morning and craptastic rest of the day, I figured the dog and I might be better off going for our walk kind of immediately.  So rather than have breakfast, I went for an hour-long walk.  And then I had a shower, because I didn't want my hair still wet when I went to work and if I waited any longer, it would be.  Oh, and then I had to get laundry in as well.  In the end, I had breakfast at 11:30 and thus didn't even need lunch.  And I was FINE.  Moreover, frequently when stuff gets in the way of eating (which it does surprisingly often), the hunger disappears entirely by the time I get back around to having time to eat.  And bear in mind, this is me operating at a consistent caloric deficit.  It's not like I've already had "enough" to eat by conventional standards.  If hunger were truly a response to insufficient food intake to maintain weight, I'd be a lot hungrier, a lot more often.  But that's NOT what hunger is.  Hunger is a brain-based expectation of food reward.  And if you consistently send your brain signals that there ain't none of that happening, hunger becomes transient and unobtrusive. 

Realistically, this makes sense - much more sense that the frankly stupid assertion that "You have to eat every two hours for your metabolism/blood sugar/whatever" - really?  If humans really NEEDED to eat that often, would we ever have survived as a species?  If we were truly such delicate flowers we'd have been toasted by nature a long, long time ago.  If you honestly think you need to eat that frequently - like, you feel dizzy or faint if you don't - there is something very wrong with you.  You might want to fix it.  And, if you are carrying around a few extra pounds, your body's inability to use those pounds when you've got grumblies in your tumblies instead of steering you into the closest cafe or fast food joint should give you pause.  Because that's not how a human body ought to operate.

The other thing I learned this week is possibly less generally applicable.  And really, it's something I've learned a few times, I just keep hoping it's not really true.  Me and grains? We're not friends.  And we're not going to be.  The potage de semaine now is "variety meat" - meaning I was bored and did some freezer excavations to see what could go in that wasn't chuck roast or stew meat.  I found a heart that had actually been re-frozen due to poor planning on my part, a tongue (yum!) and the ubiquitous liver.  So it all went in, but heart is very dense and high in iron, and as my iron levels are fine, I figured heart for two meals a day might be a bit much.  What can reduce the amount of minerals you absorb from food?  Why, whole grains and their high phytic acid content, of course!  I hemmed and hawed about this for a while and eventually added a handful or two of hulled barley.  It fits the bland requirement nicely, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest that humans have been using grains like this - as a minor addition to food - for longer than we've had agriculture.  And hulled barley, while slightly processed, isn't what I'd call an industrial food (kind of. There's still the monocrop issue, but...)  So I went for it.  And now I am all kinds of bloated and I feel like I have a brick in my guts and bleah.  Fortunately, I only put the barley in a small amount of the stew, so I'm going to ditch that or season it up and feed it to the family, and haul the rest of it out of the freezer for me to eat, barley-free.  Pity - I really like barley, and I'm philosophically ok with using grains in that kind of context - but I guess it is not to be.

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