Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brenda's Summerlicious Feedback

Brenda also gave me permission to post her response to my Summerlicious blog post. Didn't I tell you that I have fantastic friends!

Hey Tish,
Just a thought:
No one can accomplish the high degree of control that you think you are lacking. None of us could stay vigilant 24-7. There is a myth in our culture that 'willpower' is a quality that some of us have and others don't. Failure of your 'willpower' does not reflect a personal failing, but is inevitable. At some point even the most vigilant will succumb to temptation. This is why setting up your environment is so important.

You are doing well--you have set up your friends to help--and some of them actually do this. The next step is to continue to spend time (especially when eating) with those friends who help and to avoid eating with friends who don't. Controlling your environment is much more important (and more reliable) than counting on your willpower.

The problem is, if you find it distressing--you will actually AVOID eating out with your friends who support you (and may actually start to gravitate to those who sabotage your efforts). Bad idea. Your next task is to acknowledge your distress and to put more supports in your environment. For example, here is what I have noticed (from your blog and our weekend):

1. Go out with people who will let you carry a conversation. Use your hands. Think of eating out as a time to talk more than a time to eat.

2. Don't go to "all you can eat" places, buffets, or places with too large portions (this will be hard on Chris!).

3. Wine bars and tapas places are ideal for you. The focus is on small bits and sharing rather than on a large plate of food that people dive into. This way, you don't have to compare what you are NOT eating on your plate to theirs. With a common plate(s) there nothing to compare to!

4. Physically remove the plate and move it out of reach at the first sign of 'doneness'.

5. Have people ruin your leftovers.

6. Start to have a policy where you MUST leave something from each selection on your plate (to counteract the 'clean plate' idea).

7. Don't eat with really hungry people, if you can help it. They will be too focused on the food and not on the company.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mary's Summerlicious Feedback

Mary, bless her heart, gave me permission to post her response to my last blog post. By the way, I have fantastic friends!

Hey Tish,
You know, you're kind of hard on yourself. One of the things I really value about your blog is how honest you are. That's not easy. I'm a little surprised that you are still reeling about your response to the leftover elimination at Summerlicious. From what I observed, you did the right thing.

1. You asked someone "safe" for help with an uncomfortable situation where you were conscious that your behavior was self-destructive. Not the easiest thing to do, but you did. Take a moment now to pat yourself on the back and give yourself a hug! Good for you!

2. Even though at the time you were inwardly screaming in dismay at my action, you maintained fair outward serenity (with only a bit of white showing around your eyes)...cool as a cucumber, babe!

3. You are cognizant of what's going on with your reactions. You know what you want to change. You're taking action to make change by trusting others to support your needs. Kudos!

4. You will eventually get to the stage where you can accept that you will likely still have knee-jerk reactions to food issues. You're already on the right track. Inwardly nod at the reaction and move on, happily giving yourself a gold star for self awareness!

This honesty, trust, and willingness to keep trying is inspirational to me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summerlicious & the "I can't believe you did that" moment

Summerlicious; an event in Toronto when restaurants set a fixed price menu.

I had such a great time attending Summerlicious this year. I wasn't able to eat a lot, but I had the chance to try some really interesting restaurants at exceptional prices. However,the topic of today's entry, though it happened during Summerlicious, is not about Summerlicious at all. It's about my reaction to something my friend, Mary, did.

So here we are, at The Citizen. Mary, in the red t-shirt, Mya, in the white blouse and myself. We had a great time! The food was good and the conversation even better.

As the meal progressed and I became full, I pushed my bowl of pasta away from me. However, I really liked my meal and I began to pick at my food. I could feel my stomach become tight and uncomfortable and knew that I needed to stop eating, but could not bring myself to do so. Finally, in desperation, I pushed my bowl to the middle of the table, towards Mary and told her I was full and that she could finish my meal if she wished.

To my abject horror, Mary dumped another bowl of unfinished food on top of my pasta and pushed the dishes towards the end of the table for the waiter to pick up! Though I couldn't eat another bite, I could not believe my emotion response to Mary's destruction of my food. If she or Mya had eaten the pasta, I would have been less appalled! A day later I was still in shock at the event and decided to discuss it with Mary.

I told her about what was going on in my pointy, little head and conveyed my dismay and turmoil. To my surprise, I discovered that her actions had been prompted by the latest entry in my blog that discusses my need, at times, to ask others to "destroy" my leftovers. Well, Mary, being the friend that she is, went ahead and did exactly what needed to be done but I could not bring myself to do. In retrospect, I would have been more comfortable bringing the food home as leftovers and leaving it to rot in the fridge, before I threw it out! But, this experience has brought some really interesting (if not unpleasent) emotions to bare.

I am disturbed about the event for a few reasons

1) That I was not able to push my food away when I knew I was finished

2) That I had such a unwanted emotional response to Mary's actions

3) That there are still lingering waves of that emotional response that I haven't/won't or can't deal with as of yet

So, here I am. Stuck in a place that I am not comfortable being in and feeling a tad out of control, relying on others for strength and trying desperately to develop coping skills that I can act on.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Social Eating

I am a huge foodie (didn't you guess that by now) and I still really enjoy the concept of eating out with friends and family. But since the gastric by-pass surgery, I have not enjoyed social gathers over lunch and dinner as much as I once did.

My friends and family know what I have been through and understand that I have a tiny pouch that is filled by 3/4 cup of food. They have a clear understanding that it is a huge waste of money for me to buy a full meal for myself. So we joke around and laugh when I eat of of other people's plates. (I mean, I don't eat off their plates. I have my own plate and everybody gives me a taste of their food.) And even though that behaviour in itself is somewhat uncomfortable, I recognize that I am with people who really love me and the behaviour becomes more acceptable.

However, the real problem for me is not when I am eating, but when I am full, which is about 5 minutes after the food arrives. What am I suppose to do with all of that time, while other people are "mmmmmming" and "yummmming" their way through dinner? The mouth hunger I feel is overwhelming and, I must confess, I have asked friends to ruin my leftovers so that I would not pick at them. I become uncomfortable, anxious, and feel out of place during the meal and often end up apologizing for my lack of stomach space.

This past weekend my good friend Brenda, came to visit me. We have been friends for 30 years!
Over dinner at the Red Violin (a place you have got to go to if you carnivore at heart), I tried to explain to her the traumatic emotions I was feeling. Casually, she said that I should use my hands more. "What?", you may ask. Well as we sussed it out, we concluded that I should talk more and, since I am Italian, I would then be using my hands more to talk. If I am talking, while others are eating, I am still participating in the social aspect of the meal and, at the same time, distracting myself from the fact that I can't eat. What a brilliant idea!

So friends and family, be prepared. I am going to be, goddess help us, talking more during dinner! Don't kill me!