Normal Eating–would like your advice

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    • #8994

      Hi friends!

      I would like your input on something regarding eating/times/plans.

      Currently, I don’t eat my first meal till early afternoon. I’ve eaten this way for a long time because I usually have eaten later at night the previous day, and don’t feel hunger yet. My body is used to it.

      I eat that meal, a decent healthy dinner about 7, and as I have said before my “addictive desire” pops up usually around 9/10pm. I expect it!

      Last night about 10pm, my brain told me to have some cookies. It was my son’s 16th birthday, he had friends over and I had ordered some from a special bakery.
      My brain said “have some cookies afterall! It’s a birthday”.
      I don’t see any problem with the cookies but it did not end just there.

      So here’s my question:
      When the addictive mindset comes, as it inevitably will, do I set a “plan” at that very moment about how much exactly I will eat? (i.e. one cookie) Or earlier in the day plan my day out?

      Last night if I had set the plan at the moment, I would have continued with the cookies and handfuls of candy because my brain was in an “altered state of mind”/addictive mindset. I was making justifications left and right.

      I’m tempted to NOT plan out my eating for the day ahead, but it seems like my night time eating would work well with a schedule of some sorts. And then I can better work with my addictive mindset.

      I’m not sure if I’m making sense, but I’d love any help from those who have experienced eating problems and shifting to “normal eating”. I honestly don’t feel hunger until I’m starving and fullness until I’ve overeaten. I’m not sure my body is trustworthy right now!


    • #8995

      Hi Liz! It’s great to hear how you are engaging with the approach and being curious about your habits.

      I can relate to this, because for a long time I would not eat meals on schedule, but snack and graze all afternoon and into the evening. I wasn’t happy with this pattern and it was one of the things I decided to change, using Gillian’s approach.

      My understanding of Times and Plans is that you set a Time for when you are going to eat immediately after you have finished eating. So for example, I have my lunch, and then set a Time for when I will next eat. To start with, this would only be a gap of one or two hours, eg lunch at 1pm, Time set for 3pm. When the Time comes, I make a decision whether to eat again or not, taking into consideration not only whether I am hungry but also whether this is likely to be an addictive desire – a desire for biscuits with a cup of tea for instance. I can satisfy that desire by eating the biscuits, or work through it – my choice, and I take the consequences of each.

      Gradually, my use of Times has evolved into a pattern of two or three healthy meals a day, and that’s where I am now. Snacking, grazing, biscuits etc are very much the exception now and rarely happen. I don’t have to think too rigidly about Times any more, as I always have a rough idea of when my next meal will be, e.g. ‘I’ll eat now, before I go out’, or ‘I’ll eat after I’ve finished this piece of work.’ these regular meals, which are now much better quality and healthier than my snacking and grazing behaviour, have helped to motivate me to keep going, because I feel so much better.

      My understanding of Plans is that you decide what you are going to eat, and how much, immediately before eating, so a kind of visual image of what will be on the plate: two potatoes or three, for example, or one ladleful or two, and so on, and what you’re going to have for pudding, if anything. I was happy with my Times, so I started to use Plans to reduce the amount I was eating. You plan even if it’s something addictive, so I might plan to have two biscuits after my main meal, although when the time comes, I might decide to work through the desire instead of eating the biscuits. I can do either – it’s my life, my choice!

      You ask whether you can plan ahead of when you eat, and I would say no, that doesn’t work. You can’t make decisions about the future, only about what you are going to eat now, at this moment. You say that if you decided a Plan immediately before eating the cookie that it would result in you eating addictively, but I think you are conflating plans with the AD. When you eat more than your Plan, you are satisfying and reinforcing your addictive desire. Your choice! If you planned to eat one cookie, and you then feel the addictive desire for more, you can choose to work through the AD instead of satisfying it. It is a true choice: the Plan is not a rule, it’s a boundary you set for yourself so that you can identify where your addictive desire starts. Remember the mountain image from week 2? We can’t really know when AD starts or ends, but if you have a Plan and you eat more than you planned to, that’s addictive desire – which as I say, you can decide to satisfy and reinforce, or you can decide to feel and experience, in order to create new pathways of expectation in your brain, and get control of your overeating.

      I don’t think anyone can tell you what ‘normal’ eating is, but maybe you could experiment with your current pattern of eating close to bedtime? What would happen if you tried eating a late brunch, then had your tea at 7pm as usual? Why not try it for size for a few days? For me personally, because I have a long walk every morning with my dogs before eating, I have a healthy savoury brunch at about 11.30am, then my tea at 5pm and often don’t need anything else that day. I really don’t feel well if I go to bed on a full stomach and I don’t sleep well, so that’s why I changed that pattern. Another pattern might suit you and of course the family meals you share.

      What I will say finally is that sometimes I have to eat when I’m not hungry, because it’s a convenient time to eat. So on Tuesdays, my friends and I all have a long dog walk together, and we meet at 11am. Therefore, on Tuesdays, I eat my breakfast at 8am, because by the time I get home from the walk it will be around 3pm and I’d be starving, which is silly. So although I prefer my late brunches, I can be flexible and eat breakfast earlier if it makes sense for the way my day is organised.

      Phew! I do apologize for the lengthy reply! It’s as helpful to me to explain my journey as I hope my reply is to you. You can really do this if you are willing to think outside the box and to experiment with doing things differently. We can always find ways to justify not making a change (‘this is what I do’; ‘my body is used to this’ etc) but it’s only when we have the courage to change things that things can change for us.

      Good luck! Love the way you are hanging on in there! And looking forward to seeing everyone-s ideas about this topic.

    • #8996
      Renée L


      Your comments are so helpful and inspiring!

      Following this thread for sure…

    • #8997
      Julie Mann

      Louise I love your response.

      Liz, here are my two cents…

      Cookies according to Gillian are always from addictive desire because they are not really food and we don’t really need them to live. So whenever you have a cookie, you will always want more. They are designed that way (sugar, fat, salt, etc.).

      It sounds like you have your times of eating pretty routinized (two meals, around noon and 7), and it sounds like your two meals are not the issue, it’s only the sweets later.

      So perhaps the next time you have a situation where you want to have sweets, or maybe it’s nightly (?) you create a plan in that moment, for example, I will have two cookies and then I will have an addictive desire for more and I will work through that desire in that moment, knowing it will come, accepting it and allowing it and seeing it as my path to freedom.

    • #8998
      lara w

      Wow! Liz, Louise, and Julie, this is an excellent thread for me! Thank you so much for bringing it up, Liz. And thank you to Louise for your excellent explanation and examples of how Times/Plans work. That was really helpful, especially in light of Liz’s post. Julie, you are so right on about some foods being addictive!

      I come from a strict “No Sugar/No Flour” weighing/measuring Program. It was just not sustainable for me, which is why I’ve been dabbling in Gillian’s books for quite a few years now. I’m so grateful that she came up with an online program, and then cut the price in half, making it totally doable for me. Thank you, Gillian!

      I’ve been absent from posting here because I’ve just been so busy with life in general: teaching, home, and family. I have time today to play catch-up!

      Love to all!

    • #9000

      Liz, may I echo what Louise has said and suggest trying different strategies to see what works best for you?

      I think it’s often the case that the method you develop yourself is the one that will work the best.

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