“Diet” #1: Appetite Awareness

10 Jan

After mulling around and procrastinating the start of a new diet several times, it became clear to me that I am in no mood for restrictions right now.  I am not feeling strongly attached to any particular foods, just my laziness.  All of the diets I have chosen require lots of planning and cooking.  Lately, with winter in full swing, I just can’t seem to get motivated to cook.  The other night, I even ordered a pizza for the first time in my adult life (No joke.  I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a pizza for delivery before…)  Pizza places aren’t really my thing.  People around me want to eat pizza so often that I rarely get around to craving it.  I figured admitting that I don’t care about pizza is like saying that I hate America, so I felt an explanation was it order.  Anyway…

My current desire for convenience lies in the gray days and the lack of sunlight.  Once the sun goes down, (and often even before then), I am useless.  All I want to do is watch Dexter.

My ally from the FructMal days bought me a book for Christmas called “The Appetite Awareness Workbook: how to listen to your body & overcome bingeing, overeating, & obsession with food”(  As a fellow food sensitivity sufferer, she understands the complex relationship that develops between a person with known food intolerances and eating behaviors.  Since restriction is often encouraged or necessary in these instances, it’s very easy to become obsessed with that which you cannot have.  Restriction is the most common cause of binge eating, whether the “bad” foods are an actual threat or just a mental construct.  It’s safe to say that my problems with food are multifaceted.  I believe they started back in 2008 when I first started attempting to eat more vegetarian meals.  I was replacing meat with starches, mostly FODMAP heavy foods.  As a result, a lot of my food was being malabsorbed, making my appetite insatiable.  Binge eating also became a coping mechanism after an overdue breakup  and continued on in a misguided effort to cut out all of the foods that seemed to be making me ill (everything!)

Lately, I am much less obsessed with food than I have been in the past.  I have actually already made great strides towards conquering my bad habits around food.  Since I have a better idea of the foods that I can digest, I am able to shape my diet around those options most of the time.  I am no longer dealing with the sadness of losing a lover or the boredom of being stuck in a dull job, so emotional eating is less of an issue.  I do not consider ANY foods off-limits these days.  That helps food lose it’s power to some extent.  I still eat too many sweets when they are in front of me, but I have less of a need to seek them out.  For example, the last time I had ice cream was when it was served in a tiny dish at Christmas.  I haven’t eaten an entire pint (while sulking alone) for a long time.  To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time I had ice cream in that context.  However my residual bad habits and holiday rationalizations (“Christmas candy comes but once a Nov., Dec., Jan. year!”) have allowed my overeating tendencies to take charge more often that I’d like.

In any case, I am going to use this workbook over the next month (at least!) to try and get a better handle on my binge eating demons.  If you’ve never had a problem with eating normally or you appreciate a good humored approach to it, check out this clip:  The “cookie radar” story is spot on, and the doughnut reference is only slightly exaggerated. 😉  If you are offended by swearing, I don’t know how the hell you ended up here, but I guess you shouldn’t watch the video.

I have been keeping a food diary on and off since about 2008.  My stomach issues really took hold around this time, so I was constantly trying to make connections between my diet and my digestive distress.  I wish I could visit my younger self and hand her a book about FODMAPs, but I’m grateful to be living in an era where these types of discoveries are being made.  I fired up a new food journal around the end of November 2013 and have been logging meals since then.  A fancy term for this is food monitoring.  I have found this method to be a helpful tool for figuring out some of my problem foods and pinpointing unhealthy eating behaviors.

I won’t be keeping  a food journal as of tomorrow, because the AAT (appetite awareness training) specifically forbids it.  The idea behind this rationale is that people have preconceived notions about “good” and “bad” foods and this interferes with our accurate appetite assessments.  Makes sense to me!  Instead, I will be using a a form provided by the book that allows me to gauge hunger and my response to it.

To begin the assessment, the workbook requests an analysis of your overeating behaviors. Thanks to my recent notes, I was able to assemble some data to help shed some light on my overeating patterns.  I wanted to include graphs, but it seems Microsoft Word graphs are not supported by the WordPress format.  Bummer dude.

Here are the number of eating instances in which I overate during the past 7 weeks: Week 1: 3; Week 2: 3; Week 3: 7!; Week 4: 6; Week 5: 4; Week 6: 3; and so far this Week 7 (starting on Sunday): 6The very first day of “Week 3” is when I made all of that Christmas candy with Derek’s mom.  Coincidence?  “Chyea and monkeys might fly out of my butt!”  (<3 Wayne’s World)

This means, that on average, I overeat 4-5 times per week or during 20-25% of my meals

My tendency to overeat more than once in a single day is less than once per week.  12.5% of my overeating episodes occur during the same day.

50% of my overeating episodes involve “objectively large amounts”.  This means that half the time, a person would be apt to look at me and say “You gonna eat ALL of that?”  Otherwise, I just ate more than I needed to to satisfy my biological hunger.

I feel as though I “lose control” while eating less than or about once per week on average.

[This is often dependent on the types of foods I am exposed to and my attitude towards them.  I have identified certain foods as vices, so when I am around them, I sabotage myself into helpless victim mode.  “Well I was going to eat like a normal human being, but then you brought peanut butter cups, and now…nothing matters!  Give me all of them!”  Something like that, perhaps a little less dramatic, but perhaps not. 😉 ]

During most of these “out of control” moments, I eat objectively large amounts.

The book lists unhealthy compensatory behaviors, and I am happy to report that I rarely utilize any of them.  I just like stuffing my face and feeling sorry for myself when I gain weight.  You know, like the average American.

The only “compensatory” behaviors that I occasionally utilize are fasting or skipping meals.  I utilize these methods every week or 2, but I don’t think I would consider it starving myself in the interest of reducing caloric intake.  More often than not, I am just trying to settle my stomach after the abuse or I don’t feel hungry.  I try not to skip meals if I have genuine hunger.

My current weight fluctuates between about 135 and 138 pounds.  Today, I weigh 135 pounds, putting me at the very highest weight I can be for my height and still be considered “normal” weight.  On those days that I weigh 136-138 pounds, I magically fall into the “overweight” category.  Haha!  I’m a magician!  BMI is fairly bogus, but it’s still used by dietitian bozos (like me) and this book.  I’m assuming that its 2006 copyright is to blame, because we have better tools for assessing weight now, such as the waist to hip ratio.  It gives a more accurate idea of whether or not your weight is a heart health risk.  My ratio is 33/40 which yields an average result of .82.  >.86 means “at risk”.  I am not as comfortably distant from that category as I would like to be.

While my current weight is certainly “acceptable”, I would be more comfortable around 120-125 pounds.  This is the weight I used to naturally maintain before I started letting food control me.  Goal #1 is to work on my relationship with food.  Goal #2 (weight loss) should just fall into place when this first goal is underway.

Specific goals (as outlined in pg. 60 of the manual) for week 1: “eat scheduled meals/snacks, avoid getting too hungry, resist urges to eat when not hungry, stop at moderate fullness” and “explain negative feelings” (using provided form)


Craighead, L. (2006) “The Appetite Awareness Workbook”.


2 Responses to ““Diet” #1: Appetite Awareness”

  1. tessatito January 10, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    Good insightful and knowledgeable post. I wonder if that book is helpful for those with an ED or former ed. I’ve been really hard on myself for eating so shitty and not Motivated to cook either. Fuckin wknter. Oh yeah I have A huge problem with swearing 😛

    • thehungryguineapig January 10, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      I believe the book was designed with all eating disorders and disordered eating in mind. My ally used it during her internship (where I believe she worked with individuals with EDs). However, it is definitely more geared towards those who have problems with overeating. It’s fairly cheap on Amazon, but I’d be happy to let you borrow it in a month or 2 if you want. Of course, I will have filled out a lot of the questions which may defeat the purpose of the “workbook” format. I like this approach, because it focuses first on conquering overeating (whether “normal” or true binges) and then delves into how to change the actual contents of your diet without becoming obsessive. I haven’t read that far, but I love the concept.

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