Image Source: Stock Exchange

Image Source: Stock Exchange

A note from a blog reader (and friend):

On one of your videos I heard you say, “following a 0-5 food plan,” which really got me thinking, because I have thought of a food plan as an “eat this, in that amount, at such and such a time” sort of thing, as opposed to an approach to how we are planning to eat when we get hungry. I had thought of 0-5 eating as “beyond food planning” or “letting go of food planning,” but, in the grand sense, of course it is a food plan. It’s a plan to wait for hunger and to eat to satisfaction. It’s a different type of food plan, but it is a food plan nonetheless.

I’d like to offer some more thoughts, based on my experiences as a person with a history of lots of very restrictive eating, including following restrictive food plans for much longer than was good for me, on the whole idea of food plans and how I’ve made food planning work for me within a 0-5 framework.

When I first learned about the whole concept of 0-5 (hunger/satisfaction) eating, I felt released from food jail and liberated into the loving arms of God. I was elated. I employed the suggestions and floated my way right into a headlong binge. What happened? It took me totally by surprise. Well, after repeating the same mistake about 25 times or more (I am not a fast learner in this department), I finally realized that I was eating -5 to +10 instead of 0-5. I was getting too hungry and then overeating. But I didn’t overeat each time I ate. Because I was so used to restricting, I was basically getting too hungry and eating too little for as long as I could take it, and then I would compensate by bingeing every few days. The old binge-starve cycle, except that it started with starving until I worked up to a compensatory binge. Aha. A clear problem presents a clear answer: stop starving yourself! My eyes were open to one answer for me: eat to satisfaction each time, and you won’t need to binge. Halleluiah!

As I continue to re-calibrate and re-fine my eating, I have become aware that although hunger and satisfaction are very important and help me to be and feel most connected to God through my body, life is much easier for me if I find my own eating rhythm and plan accordingly.

Here’s my rhythm: I am very likely to get hungry every few hours. I am hungrier in the morning than in the evening, but that doesn’t always fit well with family and social meals. I need to eat breakfast for myself, but I can’t usually gracefully skip dinner. I am hardly ever hungry for an evening snack, so I don’t plan on one.

If I plan to eat three meals and two snacks per day, separated by approximately three hours each, then I find that my brain is not constantly cluttered by calculating and re-calculating what I can or should eat next time I get hungry or how long it will take me to get hungry, etc. I do best when I expect to eat regularly. I eat meals and snacks in accordance with my signals of hunger and satisfaction, but I also plan to eat normal, social meals and snacks. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that three meals and two snacks is my primary boundary and hunger and satisfaction is my secondary boundary, but they both compete for primary (is co-primary a word? twin primary?).

The reason it’s important for me to elevate the regular meal/snack eating is that when I tell myself I’m just eating for hunger/satisfaction, I tend to default to under-eating and then become tempted to over-eat. I guess that’s because of my history of restricting, I’m not sure. But I do know what’s true for me, and what’s true for me is that although I am on the 0-5 food plan, I’m also on the three meals and two snacks food plan, and it is a manageable challenge to integrate the two. In fact, I think integrating the two is what normal eaters do. Normal eaters almost never say, “no thanks, I’m not eating dinner tonight – I’m not hungry yet.” They try to eat when they are hungry, but if they aren’t hungry, they’ll order something, eat a bit of it, and share the rest or bring home the leftovers or whatever seems like a good idea at the time to them.

I don’t always wait for hunger or eat to satisfaction. Similarly, I don’t always eat three meals and two snacks. Sometimes I get hungry for an extra snack. Sometimes I skip a snack. But I really never skip meals. I might delay meals because of life circumstances even though I’m hungry, or I might put a meal off because I’m not hungry yet, but I’m not going without lunch.

The big “never” for me is that I never binge any more (praise God!!) at least so far, since I started to get serious about this approach. The other “never” is that I never starve myself. If I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m not satisfied, I eat more. But I do it in the context of  “I’m going to eat again in another few hours so I don’t have to stuff myself and in fact I don’t even want to because why would a person do that to herself?”

Maybe the main benefit of planning on eating three meals and two snacks is that it decreases my anxiety about starving. A person who eats that often is not going to starve. I am not going to starve myself and therefore I don’t need to overeat to prevent future starvation or to make up for past starvation. I am taking care of myself – I can relax around food : )

I hope this imperfect approach is useful to someone else. I so want to be linear and rigid, but I know that doesn’t work for me any more. It never worked for me, even though it’s how I attempted to live for years. I have to be integrated, complex, and flexible. Darn it.

~ Anonymous 🙂

What About You?

Have you modified your 0 to 5 eating in a way that frees you? Can you relate to this writer’s technique? How about sharing with us how you manage? It might encourage someone else!