Sunday 26th June 2022

On Learning About Eating. Part One.10/2019.

On Learning About Eating.  Part One. 10/2019.

I have been eating my way through life for over 69 years now. As anyone does.

Yes, I “am” the baby. I also know my grandmother (left) and Dad struggled with weight issues too.

But, I still do not understand much about eating ….unless it is:

  • diet-based (fail)
  • managing to eat enough for nourishment after cancer surgery in my mouth (pass/fail/maybe)
  • how to moderate my choices for more than a day or so ( pass or is it fail?)

Why I am I writing about this topic?

It has puzzled me (and I am thinking many who read this) why I ate. Because I know it was often not based on sound nutritional practices and in fact was in some way disordered. I do not have an eating disorder but I do/did eat like this:

  • some secretive ways – late at night or when no-one was around
  • using stashes of chocolate to soothe me
  • having take-away food in the car

I have written a long post here about my “weight” and how I played “possum” about it. No-one could (or dared) mention it yet I was/still can be ashamed of my behaviour.

Since my cancer surgeries where I lost more weight through not being ABLE to eat much, I did enjoy the unexpected outcome of buying lovely clothes to fit me and to show my newly acquired physique…thanks to oral cancer…

And that was lovely and I will always appreciate that time in my life from October 2017 to around the same time in 2018.

Some examples of my pre-upper prosthesis meals. Mind you I cannot face any of these as a meal now I am post-teeth.

Then I began to eat more food from late August 2018 on. Because I could. Oh and it tasted so good, the senses were in over-drive and the fact that I could now BITE, CRUNCH and CHEW was amazing. This happened because “I got my upper prosthesis”. Yay.

And my weight has crept up. What did I do? I was glad I could eat from a wider (pardon the pun) range of foods but I sensed my retreat into anxiety about my appearance and that it would become noticeable to others. Early in 2019 my husband could see my emotional state had become less content since my early months of “having teeth” euphoria and we had a very frank discussion where I confessed I was worried I had not learned anything new about eating despite the privations of 14 months with no upper teeth. Because of cancer. If you want to read about my cancer, here is the page with the posts.

Organised and planner me took over for a while and this is what I came up with since that chat:

  • weigh-in once a month
  • focus when I go out on coffee part not the add-on of a food such as donuts, date loaf or muffin
  • eat more regularly: make specific time ranges for three meals a day. Add snacks.
  • plan groceries around my meals (my husband and I eat a shared meal a few times only in a week)
  • resist late-night snacking in bed by allowing hunger to be felt
  • speaking kindly towards myself in any times of difficulty (this is such a different me to old, punitive me)
  • look at the facts about my appearance rather than the perceptions aka mind-based ones
  • move more each day – it has been very hot so it has been better to stay home than to get outside BUT I can walk more when I go to a coffee place in a shopping centre

Then I heard about Mindful Eating. As someone who has practised mindfulness as part of my cancer recovery time along with when I am faced with anxious and scary times, I was very interested. So I bought the two books AND am now listening via CD to this program.

I KNEW I ate for more reasons than stomach hunger! The author who knows from experience of both an early eating issue, is a doctor and a mindfulness practitioner has opened my mind! I am doing some of the exercises and I now know I (we) eat to satisfy:

  • eye hunger
  • nose hunger
  • stomach hunger
  • mouth hunger
  • heart hunger
  • mind hunger
  • cellular hunger

The tracks on the CD are listed here. I am a work-in-progress of course.

Here’s what I am learning so far:

  • I eat visually: eyes it seems come first BUT
  • I also eat by the stomach so I recognise the feelings of fullness
  • I KNEW I ate from mouth hunger but had no idea why. It explains how much I (we) miss chewing, crunching, savouring and tasting….as I did in my 14 months after cancer surgeries.
  • I need to care for and about myself around this issue of eating. Not say anything negative about what I am doing. The inner critic needs to be back in her place. Doing well so far.
  • I need to eat at regular intervals but to also feel the stomach hunger too. I am very much into the early stages of making things around eating work for me but am proud now that I:
  • meal plan – and include some protein at each main meal
  • snacks are well & truly covered and are linked to helping my meet my mouth hunger, visual hunger and heart hunger
  • can look at my image in the mirror or photo and be proud of the body that has helped me overcome cancer 
  • am learning lessons about eating I wish I had known a long time ago

29 Jan 19 : Writing this post after going out for coffee and groceries.

Part Two will be an update. This is most definitely a project in health and head and neck cancer recovery worth taking my time over.

Is eating something you struggle with?

How do you make eating choices?

I would love to know more in the comments!


Joining with Sue here and Leanne for the Wednesday link up MidLife Share The Love.





  1. Great post Denyse. Totally honest as usual.

  2. You know all about me and my cake/sugar addiction. It’s not cute anymore. Sigh.

    I would miss crunching and chewing hardcore. Never been much of a soup person because I prefer having something to munch on. I’m guilty of some of those secretive eating behaviors. I know I’m eating my feelings, so why do I keep doing it?

    Thanks for sharing this. You’ve given me much food for thought! Really bad pun… Oops…

    • In my humble opinion you do so well to care for yourself in a world that is not always kind or going your way. I mean that you are one very intelligent and sensitive woman for all the reasons you know and that I do not need to ‘meet’ you to know as we have built up quite a relationship on-line.

      Before I could even contemplate making serious changes of all kinds (less fear about travel etc) I first had to learn how to be kindly towards myself as I might to another.

      I did a LOT of work learning about self-compassion. It is not self-indulgence nor self-esteem. It is to be as kind, forgiving and understanding to yourself as you would to say one of your kids. I think I was far too over-critical and analytical about my behaviours.

      The work and research by Dr Kristen Neff is outstanding and she comes from a place of real-life experience. If you want to know more here is a link to a quiz and it’s also to her website. I have done this quiz about 5 times and come out differently each score but progressing towards greater self-compassion each time.

      Let me know if you want to find out more. Currently doing her Mindful Self Compassion Work book and it helps me to write things out as well as read.

      Denyse x

  3. I’ve tried the mindful eating thing off and on over the years (as well as intuitive eating) but not always been as diligent as I should be.

    And yes, disordered eating comes in many shapes and forms and eating mindfully I think is a great start. I almost always do something else while I’m eating – TV, computer etc… and it disappears before I even start to realise I’m full! (Particularly an issue given my smaller stomach!)

    It sounds like you’re definitely on the right track!!!

    • Thanks Deb, I really appreciate your comment and support.

      You know I had the ‘fear’ of how I would comfort or soothe myself without the teeth and it turned out I could. But when the much bigger range of foods was at my side I really did over-do it. I knew it too.

      It WAS time to look for a completely new way to manage eating and so far my insights into me are helping me a lot. I am not dieting at all. However I am tweaking behaviours and so far they are not at all painful.

      Denyse x

  4. Denyse I love how you tackle your challenges head on. I’m vegetarian so find I often don’t eat enough protein. Lack of protein usually ends up in sugar cravings. So that’s usually my dietary battle. Looking forward to your next update #MLSTL Shared on SM

    • Thanks Jennifer! Yes, we know how we can make things better don’t we? It’s the signals not being ignored that helps us make the shift. I can handle carbs (cake, buns and so on) with ease but felt hungry if all I had was say a few savoury biscuits and some cheese for lunch. I pay attention to have protein of some kind at every meal and my mental and physical health are better for it.

      Denyse x

  5. There’s a lot more going on with our eating than just fuelling our bodies isn’t there Denyse – I hadn’t realized how much until I saw all that information in your post. I think we have such a plentiful amount of food and so much choice that we take it for granted and often make poor choices. Being more mindful and intentional is certainly a great way to approach Midlife (and beyond) eating.
    Thanks for linking up to MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Thank you Leanne. It was a revelation for me and one where I no longer felt too different. I have thought about having ‘mouth’ hunger for years and suspect that had a lot to do with why I ate some of the foods which contributed to my weight gain over the years.

      Knowing about all the senses involved in eating and now learning about how companies who make food, and places where we go to eat also influence how much we eat is giving me much “food for thought (couldn’t help myself!)

      I have now removed the nasty and critical voice from my learned behaviours and as a result am a lot calmer about the choices I am making and that is a very big step for me.

      Thanks for your support

      Denyse x

  6. Thanks once again Denyse for sharing your personal experiences. I believe that many of us have issues with food–I know I do. In the past, I regularly ate too fast and past my comfort level. The biggest change I have made is mindful eating. I’m so happy you’ve discovered that tool. I still forget sometimes, but when I remember, here’s how it looks for me. I take a minute to appreciate the look and the smell of the food. I give silent thanks for everything and everyone that contributed to me having that food. Then I eat slowly, savoring the textures and the tastes. I completely chew and swallow each bite before taking the next and put down my utensil between bites. The other thing I’ve done is get rid of the frozen meals I was eating for lunch. Now I food prep every Sunday, cooking a healthy recipe with fresh, real food ingredients that I can portion out for my lunches that week. I have noticed a real difference in how I feel–and bonus, it tastes better! Good luck on your healthy eating goals. #MLSTL

    • Oh Christie this is so good to read about your experiences too.

      The other night I sat at the dining table – alone but ok as my hub eats much earlier- and had literally no distractions. I thought about meals my late grandfather would have cooked and how much he taught me about resilience. I gave thanks (in my way of being grateful) to those who. along the way to my meal being edible, made contributions. I do eat much more slowly now because I have to and even if the food does cool more, I am pleased to allow that time for my stomach to also tell me ‘it’s enough’.

      Mindfulness was not a new concept but applied to eating it’s a case of being ‘in that moment’ as much as possible. Cheers to you in your quest. And right now I am cooking up some meals for me, my hub and my dad so I do not have to cook each night.

      Denyse x

  7. Hi Denyse, Mindfulness plays such an important role in all areas of our lives, yet I only recently discovered it over the last few years. I’ve read about it through reading blogs and this post you have written is as usual honest but also informative. Over eating is linked to more than food unfortunately many don’t realise this. Thank you for sharing this important information with us and I just wanted to say you are looking fabulous and I can definitely see a change in you. More confidence in not only the clothes you are wearing but more importantly your total self confidence. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a great week. xx

    • Thanks Sue, that is very kind and helpful to say, Sometimes we can be our harshest critic and I am learning not to listen to that voice (takes a while after all these years) and instead be mindful and enjoy more of the moments I am in.

      I love learning something new that I can get meaning from and these two books I am listening to and reading Mindful Eating and Mindless Eating (it was recommended by the Mindful eating author) are opening up my ears and eyes to the ways in which the food industry, supermarkets and restaurants use skills from research in human behaviour to ‘get us to eat and eat more’ unless we know what is going on. That is is where mindfulness comes in.

      It was good that Christie shared her experience with me in the comments. Love the connections!

      Denyse x

  8. Denyse you are a real wonder woman, tackling everything in your own indomitable way! I wish you well on your mindful eating journey and by sharing your experiences you are helping others to think more carefully about the reasons they eat as well! Good on you 🙂 #mlstl