Somehow I forgot over the years what the connection was between eating and actually being hungry. It almost became second nature to always just constantly be eating, not because I was hungry, but more so because that's just what I did. Maybe that makes sense in some way. Now I am not much of stress eater, although there are times when I was under stress and I would eat impulsively, but the additional eating load then didn't see much worse that the normal. For me, this whole disconnection between eating and hunger is about 90% of my problem.
Now doing something about this 90% problem is easier said than done, although I will say that I've been doing better lately. In some ways maybe I have/had a food addiction, if that's possible. What kind of addiction? I think I was more addicted to the act of eating more than I was the actual food itself. This just proves what I've heard from some very smart people over the years: weight loss and weight maintenance are not physical things, they are mental things.
This is tough to admit: I, Steve Albert, the guy who prides himself on usually having this "stuff" together, for keeping a calm head when all around him is swirling in disarray, has a mental health problem when it comes to his relationship with food. Ironic, huh? Now it's not as if I am morbidly obese or in danger of stroking out anytime soon, because that's clearly not the case at all. What is true is that ever since graduation from college, my weight has trended up.
I don't think that I ever really learned how to eat well growing up. That's not a negative against my mother, as she was faced with a Herculean task of raising four sons (all one year apart) all on her own. Probably more of the culprit is the fact that I had such a hyper metabolism as a teenager that I could eat anything and still be rail thin. Of course getting older put a stop to the metabolism, but while my body could not longer handle the constant eating that I learned as a teenager, my head was still wired to the behavior.
Speaking of my mother, she is a big supporter of the notion that you never stop learning new things. I agree. Lately, the newest thing I'm trying to learn is to change my relationship with food. The thought process is pretty simple:
...Eat when actually hungry
...Keep track of what I eat
...Don't eat so much that I end up feeling worse after eating than I did before eating
...Eat more slowly
...Eat better things
I don't have the discipline to diet. I've tried it and it failed, mainly because it's a quick fix that does nothing to change the underlying problems. I once did drop about 50lbs, the right way mind you, but I ended gaining much of it back because of this unhealthy relationship. It's like going back to that old girl/boyfriend you know will be there and who also know isn't really all that good for you. In the end I have to grow up and actually own what I consume. This includes acknowledging the problems I've had, and constantly being on vigil for those times when it's far too easy slip into a bad habit than it is to do the right thing.