In the process of recovery, you and your body merge into one identity. The person you knew was inside you will actually come out into the open, even before you lose all the weight you want. As you become secure in the process of your recovery, and completely free of the diet lifestyle, you will experience a tremendous freedom in your relationship with your body and with food. Naturally, the interval between enlightenment and new identity varies quite a bit. The range I’ve witnessed goes from a few months to one year for the mental/emotional stability and one year to seven years to reach an ideal weight.
These timetables depend upon an individual’s ability to stay off the feast or famine cycle and stay with high quality food.
Recovery is likely to be interrupted by life events that influence eating and appetite. Things that interfere with hunger, such as high stress and illness, may put an individual back on the feast or famine cycle. This can’t be prevented sometimes, but these problems are self-limiting, so usually people pick up where they left off. For the recovering person, emotional difficulties may also interfere with eating and cause cycling. These problems may cause temporary weight gain, and although disappointing for the person in recovery, resolve themselves as life events settle down.
I have heard from a few people who have gotten off the feast or famine cycle, changed their eating behavior and food availability, and reached their ideal weight within months afer starting. Naturally, these individuals are near their ideal weight when they start—usually not more than 10 pounds overweight. However, these relatively thin people often report that they had a history of disturbed eating patterns and were able to recover the freedom to eat normally.
I thought you might be interested to know how one of your readers made out by following your suggestions, which I wish could be put in the hands of every overweight person in America. I immediately began following your instructions and, at the same time, resurrected my somewhat
lagging aerobics classes. Although I have never been obese, I have certainly had my share of issues around food, including cravings, and occasional bulimia. From the day I started your program, 18 years ago, I never had another problem—not one! I love good food and I eat a lot, particularly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and fish. I have almost entirely lost my cravings for sweets, they just don’t interest me. I am never hungry, have loads of energy, and lost weight the first month, without looking at the scale, or even thinking about it. I lost 22 pounds during the first two years and I’ve stayed slim and bulimia free ever since.”
Joanna’s story may seem trivial to you if you have 40 or 110 pounds to lose. But it is relevant because the eating behavior, cravings and bingeing that plagued Joanna are the same ones haunting dieters everywhere. The food palate Joanna settled on is right in line with the recommendations here. And like others in recovery, she admits, “I love good food and I eat a lot. ”
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About Evening Hunger
We’ve discussed the shift from eating most food later in the day to eating most food earlier in the day. People in recovery experience this shift, or at least should experience it, early on. Bodies naturally require most fuel intake during the hours of greatest activity, tapering off to less and less as activity wanes. Although this is normal and makes biological sense, it also makes sense that dieters tend to eat more at night and less during the day. Besides the feast or famine cycle influence, they need the fat that nighttime eating provides. Reversing this pattern is tantamount to recovery and requires diligence during the first months until it is well established. The last meal of the day, sometimes eaten as early as 4 p.m., according to some who have recovered, should be the last time of significant hunger.
My first glimmer of hope came about seven weeks into my new routine. I was out to dinner and half way through my meal, I suddenly couldn’t eat anymore of the delicious meal before me. I was so surprised that at first I thought I was getting sick. But then, when I realized I really didn’t want any more, I burst into tears, right there in the restaurant. I think the waiter thought someone had died. I just couldn’t contain the relief I felt—that my body could control my eating and actually stop me from eating more. The whole key for me was eating enough throughout the day, every day—something I never would have figured out in a million years! I still weigh less than I did most of the time [I was dieting], and now I can live and eat like a normal human being—I’m free!
Just what is “significant hunger at night?” It is hunger that calls for eating a substantial amount of food —more than just a light snack—to get comfortable. It is the hunger that tends to trigger make-up eating at night. And this type of hunger should be a thing of the past if you are on track. Remember, eating good food on time is the only way to prevent excess hunger and the overeating that goes with it. This is the whole focus of recovery: eating good food on time so that you can make good food choices consistently, avoid nighttime and anytime overeating and lose weight.
Strong hunger at night is usually a symptom Either you’ve not kept up with your hunger during the day, you are not completely off the feast or famine cycle, you still have rebound weight to gain back from a diet in the recent past, or you have been more active than usual. Always look at nighttime hunger as a symptom and try to diagnose it so you can fix the problem. It is possible, at least early on, that the hunger you experience in the evening may have to do with the long-standing physical response of your body to having food at that time. Your stomach may actually anticipate digestion in the evening if this has been a common time for you to eat. In this case, a retraining may be necessary to hurry your body along to exclusive daytime eating. To retrain your body, it’s best to avoid eating at night right from the start, and to be consistent in this. The sooner your body gets used to the healthy emptiness of the period following the last meal of the day, the better.
What about light hunger? Light hunger at night is easily managed by some light food such as fruit, a few nuts or, yogurt. It’s better to ignore light hunger at night, if you can still sleep.
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