I had the most delicious bowl of oatmeal this morning.

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It was a mountain of homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal, topped with a squirt of whipped topping. It’s been a long time since I had apple cinnamon oatmeal, but the last time I did, it was the instant oatmeal packet. Wow! What a huge difference! Ignore the silly plastic bowl- this is a real woman’s breakfast!

One of my friends called me a little while later, wanting to celebrate some good news she had just gotten, and I still wasn’t hungry, even though it was well after my normal lunch time. Still, she headed up, and we ran a couple of errands together before we went to lunch. By the time we were finished with our errands, I was finally starting to get hungry again, so we opted for some Olive Garden for lunch.

For most of my life, I have struggled with this all-or-none, clean-your-plate mentality. It’s always been hard for me to see food still sitting on the plate and not polish it off. That’s especially true when the food is something that I enjoy eating. I’ve been really thinking about this a lot lately, and wondering how much impact that has on my weight issues. I mean, obviously it does, but I guess it’s been really hitting me how screwed up my relationship with food is. Not long ago, I could feel myself returning to the days of calorie counting, working out like a fiend, and not allowing myself to leave the treadmill until I had worked off my last meal or dessert…

The past couple of days, I have been trying hard to listen to my body, and use that to tell me when to stop eating. Yes, I am trying to lose weight, but I think that for so long I’ve been in the mindset of depriving myself of things I wanted or going overboard on those foods that I let food consume me, instead of the other way around. All I have been thinking about lately is food- what I was going to eat, how to make it healthier, what I was not going to eat, how much I was going to allow myself. With that mindset, it’s so hard to cut back without feeling deprived. Instead, the past couple of days, I have been allowing myself to have what I wanted, but listening to my body’s hunger cues to decide when to eat and how much to eat. What I realized is something that I have seen on so many blogs and other places, but I guess it means nothing until you realize it for yourself- I truly do not have to eat it all in one sitting or even all today… I can have more tomorrow. I can make a loaf of banana bread, have a slice, and know that tomorrow, the rest will still be there. I don’t have to “clean my plate.” When I’ve had enough to be satisfied, I can quit then.

Is this a magic answer- no… but it may be one more little piece of the puzzle, and I’ll take all of the puzzle pieces I can find. After I finished the day, I figured up how many calories I had eaten in the day, and I was very surprised to see that by listening to my body, it was just within the range I was shooting for.