10 observations from my 7 day food consumption challenge.

By Amy Crawford

Firstly, in the instance that you're not up to speed with my 7 day food consumption challenge, have a quick read, so that today's post makes a little more sense. The long and short of said challenge though, was that for 7 days I was to eat only when I was hungry.

Herewith my 10 observations from a now complete challenge, all the way from Flinders Island, where I so happily and temporarily reside:

1. Food brings comfort when I'm stressed or frustrated. That became clear on day 1. I'm thinking "I'll nail this!" as I eat a solid breakfast at 8.30am. At about 11.30am I'm having a frustrating moment with the unreliable beast that is regional island internet. I'm frustrated because I have much work to do, that I can't do. I get up from my desk, shoulders rising, to go put the kettle on. My very next (mindless) reaction is to reach for a handful of nuts. I stop myself of course, because I'm not hungry, realising right then that this is a behaviour that needs to change.

2. Sometimes the trigger to eat isn't a gnarling, hollow feeling in my stomach, it's simply low energy. And that's ok. I noticed during this challenge that I don't often feel super hungry, but after a few hours (perhaps 5-6) without food my energy becomes poor and that's the sign I that I need food in order to keep functioning.

3. I use cooking (and eating) as a means of keeping busy. At around 4pm on dire internet day, I'm driving back from the beach (having given up on work due to inability TO work). I wonder to myself what I'm going to do next, my mind instantly taking me to the creation of bliss balls! "Of course! That'll fill in time and then I can eat a couple with my afternoon cuppa!" Ha! Gotcha! This type A needs to learn to stop 'doing', and just 'be' a little more often.

4. I snack between meals, out of habit. The old 'you should keep the fuel up all day for consistent energy' mindset. That's an old belief that I'm choosing to let go of.

5. I eat with others because of the belief that it's polite to do so. I've got guests one afternoon and they're accepting cups of tea. I pull out my recently baked cookies and offer them around. I reach for one because, out of habit, I eat with others. I refrain, with a mental note to self that I should let that belief go too, and eat if I want to.

6. I snack mindlessly during dinner preparation. Well, I used to. I note with this challenge the absence of picking during preparation because I'm now mindful of my intake.

7. Sometimes one SHOULD eat because it's the polite thing to do.It's Sunday and there's a slight glitch in proceedings. During my early morning walk I meet my almost 80 year old neighbour for the first time. He insists I wander across the road and join him and his wife for an Irish Coffee, at 11am. I accept, thinking to myself surely he doesn't mean a true Irish coffee, complete with whisky, cream and sugar.

I'm greeted by John and his wife at 11am, John excitedly showing me his collection of Irish whisky mugs. I quickly observe that this is a happy communal tipple that brings him much joy. I sit. Two minutes later a true Irish Whisky is placed in my hands and with that a tin of Tim Tams. Oh dear. John explains that I'm to take a small bite out of diagonal corners of the biscuit and dip it into my coffee, sucking the coffee up through the biscuit. I oblige, because it's all mighty good fun, I'm enjoying their hospitality and it felt like the right thing to do.

8. Not having any access to food over several hours creates a feeling of anxiety. On one particular day I leave home at 12.30pm (not yet hungry for lunch) and drive north on the island to meet a local, a stash of kitchari in my bag for 'ron. Jumping into said local's car I leave my bag (and lunch) behind to go visit yet another glorious beach. I start glancing at my watch around 2pm, a familiar feeling of anxiety creeping in (I'm on a barren beach, there's no food on or near me). It's disconcerting, I've no idea how long I'm on this beach for. I breath, deeply and calmly assuring myself that I'll be ok. By 4pm I arrive home, and pull out my kitchari. I survived, noting that old thought patterns tend exasperate the energy issue.

9. Where there's a will (to eat yum treats) there's a way! I notice a new trend as a result of this challenge: 'I'm not going to be able to have one of my recently baked cookies for afternoon/morning tea so I'll have one with lunch or dinner!' trend. Gotcha!

10. Food has had too much of a role in my day to day thoughts and activity.That bit became very clear and is I expect in part to do with the fact I work in and around food. If I'm not taking photos of it I'm thinking about my next creation to share. It's a significant part of my work and personal life. But I do feel that my eating patterns had become too habitual and mindless.

I'd love to hear from anyone who gave this challenge a go, or from those with other observations to share. Perhaps this post will encourage you to think about food and your intake differently too.

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October 30 2015

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