One of my favorite movies is the 1969 version of True Grit. Set in the 1870’s, Mattie is a strong-minded young girl who teams up with a hard drinking US Marshall to find her father’s killer. When asked why she doesn’t eat more during her first dinner with the rowdy Marshall, Rooster Cogburn, she replies in a straightforward way,
“I’ve had enough. Enough is as good as a feast.”
I have been mesmerized with that saying since I first heard it in that movie. I used to think it was the brainchild of a savvy scriptwriter, but it’s actually an old English proverb that also appeared in the movie Mary Poppins.
For a long time, I wanted to agree with this proverb, but I couldn’t make myself really feel it or believe it.
“If enough is as good as a feast, why don’t I ever seem to have enough? I never feel like I’ve had enough, even when I am stuffed full and sick from all the food in my stomach. There is still something inside me which screams, “NOT ENOUGH.”
Of course, I realize now that part of the craving for more food had a lot to do with how I viewed myself and that I tried, during every waking moment, to eat a restricted number of calories per day.
But even now, I have times when I want to eat more than my body needs. Sometimes I DO eat more than I need. But now I stop when I realize I don’t need any more. My body usually tells me when I’ve had enough. My mind now agrees and I know it’s okay to stop eating. So, what is the difference between now and back then, when I had the obsession?
How do I stop myself from eating all the chocolate chip cookies I just took out of the oven before my family even gets home?
When I first started this process a little over a year ago, I would just tell myself, I can eat these cookies now or I can eat them later, or tomorrow or any day for the rest of my life. This took immediate pressure off and I no longer felt compelled to eat whatever I was craving. I could then make a choice about what to eat or not.
If I suddenly found myself reaching for a fourth cookie, I just took notice and told myself it didn’t matter how much I just ate, I could still eat what I wanted at the next meal or the next time I felt hungry. I did not berate myself or tell myself I was a failure in any way.
I said this out loud everyday, “I can eat whatever I want now or the next meal, in two hours, two days, next week, or anytime, for the rest of my life.” This helped me to really believe what I was saying.
Once I began believing this, I saw my disordered eating through a different lens. I realized it was a normal response to the signals I give my body via thoughts about food restriction or permission, and that it is related to beliefs I hold about myself and my value. In recognizing this, I am able to stop having pity parties every time I do something I consider ‘bad.’
Once the ‘badness’ is taken away from the food/hunger equation, it’s much easier to choose to eat what you think is good for you and stop when you’ve had enough, even if you don’t feel fully satisfied.
But don’t worry, as you continue this journey, satisfaction will be something you will learn how to feel more than ever before. Most days, you will really feel like enough is as good as feast. And for those times you don’t – everything will still be okay.
Actions to take to begin your binge free journey click here.
“Just because I don’t feel good at any one time, doesn’t mean better things aren’t happening in my life.”