Sometimes I still eat without thinking. It’s not that I always eat the wrong foods when this happened, but sometimes I eat food wrong. (How’s that for great English?)
The other night when I got home from work I was actually hungry. This is still a little weird to me because for the first few months post-op, I didn’t get hunger cues much at all, unless I’d gone five or six hours between meals. I still don’t get them as regularly as before, so when one hits, it’s comparatively strong.
I normally don’t eat much before I exercise, but I knew there was no way I could last another two hours until after Tai Chi class. I grabbed a cheese stick and ate it. Then, pretty much without thinking, I followed that up with a few baby carrots which I ate far too quickly. That was the mistake. By eating quickly, I didn’t chew as thoroughly as I needed to, particularly when crunching down a hard, raw root vegetable.
It is the oddest feeling to sense when food isn’t comfortably progressing down my esophagus to the stomach. I don’t know if this is a side effect of surgery or if I was just that unaware in my years of carelessly eating. Some foods are much easier — yogurt, soup, liquids, soft fruits, cheese and pretty much anything that I chew to bits before swallowing. Foods that habitually give me problems — white meat of chicken, breads, and raw carrots. There are a few more, but these came to mind right now.
You would think that a wise woman would have remembered about the raw carrots and not scarfed them down. Had I been thinking and practicing my developing conscious eating techniques, I would either have chosen something else or made sure that I chewed the heck out of those little orange things. I also realized that putting the carrots on top of the cheese stick crowded my stomach pouch.
I figured that things would settle and I’d be okay in a short period of time, so I went off to class. Tai Chi is not an aerobic exercise. It’s performed slowly with great intent and involves lots of balance and stretching. Some of the moves also include bending over and twisting. Normally I love that my improved body permits me to move with much greater ease. The other night, I felt those carrots prod and poke with every single bend or twist. They weren’t finding enough room for themselves in my stomach and mid-way through the set, I was worried that they might want to launch a reappearance.
I gutted it through the set and then, with apologies to my classmates, I bailed on the rest of class and came home. Thankfully, the food stayed down, but the internal physical discomfort remained for a few hours. At that point I always wanted to smack myself upside the head for pure food foolishness. I put it out of my head for awhile and then pulled the incident out this morning to examine and study.
If I don’t look at these things honestly, I can’t continue to modify my own behavior. Unconscious, compulsive eating, even in small amounts, gives me trouble. For my own comfort, well-being, and the sake of fostering long-term success, I always have to be conscious at the time that I’m picking up food and consuming it. This is not a difficult task. It just takes continuous practice. I’m not always going to be perfect in my effort. One does not completely change the habits of a lifetime in eight months. I can, however, remain committed to developing and firming up the new, healthier techniques. One meal at a time.
For today, I will always remember to think before I eat.