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Published June 14, 2012, 11:30 PM

Holt: Finding balance between restriction and overeating

I started using eating as a coping mechanism when I was 15 or 16. If I could say something – anything – to my teenage self to stop her, I would.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

I started using eating as a coping mechanism when I was 15 or 16.

If I could say something – anything – to my teenage self to stop her, I would.

But even if I had that ability, what would I say? Sometimes I don’t know what to say to my current self.

Dr. Michelle May has a few ideas.

I’ve received her e-newsletter for years, so I was excited to meet her Monday at Mikey Hoeven’s Women’s Wellness Expo in Fargo.

During her seminar, she said “you feel stuffed but strangely unsatisfied” when you eat for the wrong reasons.

It’s true.

“I was using food to deal with stress,” May said. “Weight was the side effect.”

Those could have been my own words.

Have you ever heard this exchange?

“I eat my feelings.”

“You must have a lot of feelings.”

Har har.

I’m often asked how I finally took control and lost over 100 pounds.

Sometimes I struggle with the answer. It’s usually some variation of “I ate less and moved more.”

I don’t like rigidity, I don’t follow the rules, and I’ve never been able to stick to a diet.

May, author of “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat,” says you don’t have to give up eating for enjoyment, which is good, because I’m not going to.

Even the healthiest, most normalized eaters eat for enjoyment. Food is fun.

Instead, she teaches you to “balance eating for nourishment with eating for enjoyment without deprivation or guilt.”

Now that I can do. I think.

For me, the “mindful eating” concept May teaches falls somewhere between obsessive tracking and restriction and out-of-control overeating.

Now my eating’s a mix of mindless and mindful.

I bought a bag of the new Blizzard Oreos. Mindless.

I made them last several weeks. Mindful.

On Tuesday morning, keeping May’s words in mind, I picked a banana instead of the breakfast croissant at Moxie, though not without staring at it for a minute.

Then, on Tuesday afternoon when I hit a wall writing this column, I took a break and went to the Taco Bell drive-thru for chalupas.

It evens out, right?

Last weekend at Texas Roadhouse, I ate one too many of their heavenly honey buns, but I took the top off my pulled-pork sandwich.

(Ideally, I’d have no honey buns, ever. But they’re amazing.)

That’s what it’s about: choices.

Sure, I could make better choices more often, and if I did, I’d probably hit my goal weight faster.

But I want to enjoy life during the process, even if it means a little sour cream and cinnamon butter.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays.