A College Student and the “Freshman 15”
Amy is a college student who gained the “freshman 15” her first year away from home at college. She is very unhappy with her weight now that she is in her third year and has gained a few more pounds.
Amy and I began working together by focusing on the Hunger/Fullness Rating Scale. She acknowledged that she seldom feels hungry until late afternoon, and that her eating habits are quite disorganized and random. Amy sleeps as late as possible leaving no time to eat before her first class at 8 or 9AM. She grabs a large coffee and drinks it during class. By noon she feels she ought to eat, but has no time. She grabs a bagel or a bag of chips, which she eats at the library or on her way to her part time job. By 3:00, Amy feels a little hungry (“maybe”), but still has no time so she eats at the fast food restaurant in the student center. After studying or working until late in the evening, Amy is back at her apartment eating whatever is around, often snack foods, pizza, or Chinese take-out.
We began by focusing on her sensations of hunger. I suggested she wake up 10 minutes earlier to give herself a chance sit quietly, breathe, and focus on the sensations in her body for a few minutes before her day begins. During this time, she can drink some very cold water, and notice the path it takes going into her body. Doing this Amy began to notice in a very different way that what she puts in her mouth goes into her body.
Gradually, Amy began to notice a little hunger about an hour after waking. We made plans for her to have a small breakfast of cereal and milk, a light lunch that includes protein foods, fruit for snacks, and dinner in the dining hall or a salad in the fast food restaurant. Note that these plans took time and attention to accomplish!
As her eating became more organized and she responded to her feelings of hunger by eating, Amy gradually began to lose weight. While she is not at the weight she was before college, she is very pleased with her new approach to food.
A New Mom Finds Time for Herself
Tanya is a 32 year old full-time mother of 2 small children, who has struggled with her weight “forever”. Now that she is home much of the day with her kids, she is continually surrounded by food and the need to prepare and serve food for them. Tanya is very careful about the foods her kids eat, but when it comes to feeding herself, she eats whatever is quick and easy.
As Tanya worked with me on her hunger and fullness ratings, it became clear that she used food to “fill herself up”. As a single working woman, she had time to take care of herself by spending time with friends, exercising, and eating at her favorite Asian restaurant. Since marrying and having the kids, Tanya has noticed that she really wants different things in her life; the kids come first! It has felt impossible to take care of her needs and theirs as well.
Over time, we worked on ways she could fill her own needs, as well as those of her family. As she became aware of times that she tended to eat when she wasn’t hungry, Tanya began to find other ways to soothe herself when she felt drained by the demands of motherhood.
A big part of this work for Tanya was acknowledging that when she feels physically hungry, she needs to eat. Four or five small meals over the day worked best for her, so that she was eating often, and not feeling deprived.
As Tanya progressed in feeling more comfortable with feeding herself, she began to lose weight. While she never got to that “ideal weight” she had in mind, she is content and maintaining her new weight without a struggle.